Heavy Metal Weekend in Vail | VailDaily.com

Heavy Metal Weekend in Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Daily file photo

VAIL, Colorado ” People strolling through Vail Village this weekend will see what looks like a volcano exploding on the International Bridge. Don’t worry: It’s just artists pouring liquid metal into molds.

“There’s a lot of sparks flying around,” metal artist Mark Guilbeau said. “There are flames shooting out of the top of the equipment. It’s visually quite interesting.”

That interesting display is the second annual Heavy Metal Weekend. Guilbeau, from Asheville, N.C., will team up with 16 other artists to demonstrate the ancient art of metal casting.

What is metal casting? Like heavy metal music, it involves some smashing and pyrotechnics.

To prepare for Sunday’s iron pour, artists swung by Denver to pick up 1,000 pounds of iron. Friends of the artists had collected old iron bathtubs and radiators from defunct housing developments. Artists then smashed those appliances with a sledge hammer to get them ready for melting.

Once artists reach Vail, they’ll heat the iron to nearly 3,000 degrees inside a special furnace. Finally, they’ll pour the liquid metal into molds local students designed last month during workshops with Guilbeau.

“It kind of looks very chaotic,” Guilbeau said. “Once you watch it for a while, you start to see it is very choreographed.”

The result is metal sculptures.

Saturday night will focus on bronze. Artists picked up 200 pounds of bronze bars at a Denver metal shop. They’ll heat the bronze to 2,000 degrees in a furnace made from a dryer drum. Finally, they’ll use a device called a crucible to pour the bronze into sand molds and make bowls.

“It looks like gold water basically pouring out of the crucible,” Guilbeau said.

Some archaeologists believe metal casting began about 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Guilbeau travels around the country demonstrating metal pours at schools and museums in an effort to keep the ancient art alive. Guilbeau, 48, said the concept of molding is the foundation of mass production.

“Our economy, this capitalist economy, is based on mass production and these ideas that we are going to be visually exploring in the middle of Vail, they are the basic core of that process,” he said.

The town of Vail’s Art in Public Places program funded Heavy Metal Weekend.

“It’s performance art and it’s a spectacle,” program coordinator Leslie Fordham said. “It’s something you might not see many other places in the country. We think it’s a great thing to treat our residents and our visitors to, in part because it brings the casting process out of the foundry and that’s not something a lot of people get to do: visit a foundry.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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