ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Redlands artist David Rowe creates copper sculpture with Western appeal
WHAT: Open Studios Tour
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat., Oct. 12
WHERE: All around GJ
Editor’s note: The “Artist Spotlight” will be a monthly series, featuring Grand Valley artists, their work and creative process. Want to nominate a local artist who’s creating some really exciting art? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When David Rowe first moved to Grand Junction 40 years ago, it was chance — “the flip of a coin,” he said” — that brought him from Tucson, Ariz.
“I went driving through on vacation and never went back.”
And then western Colorado’s red-rock beauty inspired another big change decades later.
“I was hiking at the Colorado National Monument one day, and I noticed a bright sunspot on a sandstone spire,” Rowe said. “I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to replicate that brilliant sunburst.’ But I couldn’t replicate that with traditional media, so I thought about copper.”
That was in 2009, the same year a family member asked Rowe to fabricate a piece of art for her home. Rowe — whose previous careers spanned advertising, graphic design and architectural services — used his skills to create a copper metal sculpture as a gift, and from that his next career was born.
“Without those other disciplines, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.”
Now, Rowe works as a full-time metal sculptor (known as DavRo) who specializes in creating large copper pieces for residential and commercial spaces from his studio in the Redlands (located at the base of the Colorado National Monument, a big inspiration for his work).
“Most of my custom work is commissioned for residences, both indoor and outdoor,” Rowe said.
He also recently produced a piece for HopeWest, a Grand Junction hospice care provider, he added.
DavRo pieces are generally large, using circles and other Western motifs in abstract ways. Still others are pictorial, showing “landscapes, shapes and themes.”
“Art takes on a story,” Rowe said. “I usually start with a design concept; I give it a theme and a story, then write a bio about it, how the piece evolves and what the concept is.”
Then, the description is sent along with the sculpture to its new owner.
One sculpture generally takes one or two weeks to complete, Rowe continued, with an extremely involved planning process.
First, a DavRo piece is committed to paper with a rough sketch. Next, the artist produces a full-size model of the sculpture in matboard. Then Rowe transfers his model to paper again with a line drawing that’s scanned into a computer system. Finally, he uses that data to operate a CNC Machine, which cuts the copper pieces for assembly.
“Then I get to play with it again — assemble it, weld it, paint it and bead it up,” Rowe said.
CHECK OUT ROWE’S STUDIO
Rowe’s DavRo metal studio will be open to the public Saturday, Oct. 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as part of Grand Junction’s Open Studios Tour.
“It’s a tour of professional studios, featuring 17 Grand Junction artists,” event organizer Linda Brotman-Evans said. “It’s very exciting because on the tour there is artwork for the wall, along with sculpture and pottery. We have someone who does bookmaking by hand, and a fiber artist as well. … A lot of it is functional, as well as eye-catching and also decorative.”
Open Studios tours occur every fall and spring through Brotman-Evans’s local art nonprofit, Artspace and Open Studios.
Art displayed along the self-guided, free tour is “for everyone and every budget,” she added.
To download the Open Studios Tour map, visit http://www.artspacecolorado.org.
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