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Metal Artistry Shines in Vargas Gallery’s “Autumn Selections” Exhibit

James Herbert, lover of the ocean and metal sculptor, created “The Mermaid” with recycled steel parts, such as car parts and pipes. To construct the mermaid’s flowing and voluminous hair, Herbert cut metal up into strips and grounded down, sanded and shaped each piece of “hair.”

Herbert’s half-human and half-sea creature is now resting on land at Mission College’s Vargas Gallery in the “Autumn Selections” exhibit, put on by the Monterey Bay Metal Arts Guild (MBMAG). In this exhibition, two jurors examined the entries, without the artists’ names shown, and chose their favorites based on the merit of the work. The show opened on Sept. 15 and will continue until Oct. 31.

“We selected about 55 pieces out of about 70 pieces submitted,” said Lynda Watson, show juror, MBMAG member and retired faculty member at Cabrillo College. “We tried to choose a diverse group of pieces in terms of the ideas, concepts and the materials used. There are things here made out of steel and there are things here made from gold.”


Brian Evans, metal sculptor and former Santa Clara resident, produced the interactive “El Pulpito de Bicicleta,” Spanish for “The Little Octopus of Bicycle.” A large octopus sculpture Evans spotted at Burning Man called the “El Pulpo Mecanico” (created by Duane Flatmo and Jerry Kunkel) inspired this work.

“Most of the octopus I constructed was built out of bicycle chains,” Evans said. “My sculpture was made with welded fabrication from found objects or reused steel. Welding is a process for joining metals where the metal itself is melted and usually a small amount of the metal of the same type is added to form a joint. The hand crank mechanism is a fairly simple device. The crank itself came from an old angle grinder, a tool used to grind the surface of metal. Each arm has a rubber band that pulls the arm open and then it has a wire on the other side, that when you pull the wire, it causes the arm to curl. When you turn the crank, you’re slowly turning the arm inside the octopus which sequentially pulls each of the arm wires.”

Evans’ mother, Pat, is the President of the MBMAG and also a metal artist. In the show is her fashion accessory “Lotus Blossom,” designed with color pencil and constructed with silver metal clay.

“My specialty is silver metal clay,” Pat Evans said. “That is a product where you use recycled silver mixed with an organic binder and so it works like clay. But you fire it in a kiln and the binder burns away and you’re left with pure .999 fine silver. Sterling silver is .925. So this is more pure than sterling silver.”

The Vargas Gallery is located inside the Gillmor Center at Mission College. Mission College is located at 3000 Mission College Blvd.


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