Art & Artists
Masters of the Southwest
March, 2012, Page 168
Photo by Garrett Cook
Owners—Ed (left) and Billy Reilly
—Ed (left) and Billy Reilly
—7331 E. 2nd St., Prescott Valley, Ariz.; (928) 772-2378;
—Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
—Joe Beeler, Joe Cajero, Deborah Copenhaver-Fellows, Upton S. Ethelbah, Jr., Fred Fellows, Pahponee, Hib Sabin, Jack Walker, Kathleen Wall, Liz Wolf, and Star York.
Bronzesmith Fine Art Foundry & Gallery showcases hundreds of bronze casts throughout its three-quarter-acre site. However, today’s Bronzesmith is a far cry in size and scope from its early days.
In the late 1970s, artisan Ed Reilly worked in foundries in Sedona and Flagstaff. “Artists spend a lot of time trying to get pieces to look exactly how they want them to look,” he comments. Yet, he says, few collectors know what goes into creating the artwork.
Sharing an interest in metalwork, Ed and brother Billy, an industrial manager, started their own foundry in Flagstaff in 1982. It outgrew the tiny space in less than a decade.
The two envisioned a company that united all aspects of the bronze-casting process and in 1992 built the Bronzesmith foundry in its current location; an adjoining gallery and a sculpture garden followed.
Great Eagle Owl Spirit
is a limited-edition bronze sculpture by Hib Sabin. It measures 72"H x 22"W x 22"D.
“All of the pieces shown in the gallery and sculpture garden are cast in-house,” Ed Reilly says. He explains that many featured artists sculpt Western, Native American and Contemporary works from such materials as clay, stone or wood. A mold is then made from the original, and limited-edition bronze sculptures are cast and patinaed.
Along with seeing completed pieces, gallery visitors are able to witness the entire casting process during weekly guided tours. The brothers’ goal for the foundry and gallery was to teach collectors about the creation of bronze pieces. “It was the master plan when we built the Prescott location,” Reilly states. Now, foundry workers make silicon rubber molds, wax patterns and ceramic shells; fill them with more than 2,000-degree molten bronze; and apply finishes and patinas behind panes of glass, so that passersby can observe the process.
Reflecting on Bronzesmith’s growth, Reilly muses, “I’m still amazed when I walk into the gallery and see the beautiful art that we’ve made.”
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