‘Heavy Metal’ performances on the streets of Vail
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” For three nights after dark, Vail’s streets will come alive with the glowing heat of fiery metal. Artists, dressed in fire-safe clothing, will be loading bronze and iron into two ancient iron-melting cupolas on Vail’s International Bridge. The cupolas, the technical name for metal-melting ovens, will heat the metal to temperatures of nearly 3,000 degrees. Molten metal will be poured into sculpture molds.
The “Heavy Metal Weekend,” which will bring the 5,000-year-old industrial process out of the foundry and onto the streets of Vail, is sponsored by The Town of Vail Art in Public Places (AIPP) and the Vail Symposium.
It is no accident that these heavy-metal pours are being called performances.
“The fire-resistant suits will make the artists look like invaders from outer space,” said Art in Public Places Coordinator Leslie Fordham. “The effect, combined with flames and liquid metal will make the event fun to watch for all ages.”
Sparks will fly during the process, which is why the performances are taking place after dark, in order to increase the visual impact of the process.
Over 30 visiting artists will be transforming their work into metal, and they are not the only ones. During the month of December, artist Mark Guilbeau led workshops for local students and community members, teaching them to craft wax sculptures. Molds were made from wax plates of their sculptures and will turn to bronze today and tomorrow from 5 to 9 p.m.
Called “The Original Recycler,” metal casting is considered to be a labor-intensive industrial process, only accomplished in a foundry. But since 1951, artists have been challenging this idea by fabricating their own furnaces and casting their own sculptures. The process includes heating metal and then ladling or pouring liquid metal into molds to create sculptures. Art in Public Places donated a iron and bronze model, which will be thrown in to the cuppolas and melted to make some new sculptures, Fordham said.
The idea for Vail’s iron casting performance came from Guilbeau and his wife, University of Colorado sculpture professor Rian Kerrane, who describe the event as “more exciting than an erupting volcano.” In addition to entertaining and educating the public on the casting process, the two consider the event a unique opportunity for artists to learn from each other. While iron casting performances have taken place all over Colorado, this will be the largest gathering of artists and art students at one event.
Friday night at 7 p.m. Guilbeau and Kerrane will give an informative talk. The husband and wife duo have collaborated on many other art works and performances in the last 10 years, have poured thousands of pounds of metal for audiences across the United States. In addition to educating others about the origins of items in every day use, Guilbeau and Kerrane firmly believe that it is important for artists to share their expertise and learn from each other.
Internationally renowned sculptor and installation artist George Beasley is joining the weekend festivities to participate in many of the events, including a free public lecture on Sunday at the library at the Sonnenalp Resort from 4 to 5 pm. Beasley, one of the original artists to transform the foundry process into a performance art form, will share slides of his life and art.