Art & Artists
Masters of the Southwest
masters of the southwest
2014 master of the southwest robert myers - bronze sculptor
2014 Master of the Southwest Robert Myers - Bronze Sculptor
March, 2014, Page 122
Photos by Garrett Cook
Robert Myers finishes up the patina work on one of his top-mount Kamakura bronze sinks at his foundry in Sedona, Arizona. This sink comes in two sizes: 161/4" and 211/2" in diameter, and has a smooth interior.
Bronze Sculptor Robert Myers Elevates Sinks to Works of Art
Robert Myers has long had a passion for art. Growing up on a farm in Michigan, surrounded by fields and forests, he first discovered carving. “I used to carve branches, boards, anything I could get,” Myers recalls. His parents—mother Holly Stedman, a stained-glass artist in Sedona, Arizona, and father, Robert, a writer—encouraged his creativity. “Even though my parents didn’t have much money, they always made sure I had art supplies,” he notes. By age 5, he wanted to paint.
It wasn’t until Myers entered the Kresge Art Center at Michigan State University in 1983 that he began to quench his artistic yen. Surprisingly, painting was soon replaced with sculpting. “Back then, the instructors were mostly Abstract Impressionists, like Jackson Pollock. I’m more detail-oriented, so I didn’t want to throw paint on canvas. I decided to try sculpting, starting with marble and granite,” he relates.
Before long, he was working in Kresge’s foundry. He learned how to use the equipment and became enchanted with an environment where “so much creativity is possible because you have all the right tools.” Myers’ love affair with bronze had begun.
, 131/2"H by 16"W, bronze, is an asymmetrical design with an irregular edge. Each of Myers’ sinks comes with its own grid-style drain kit in a matching patina to ensure the coloring is seamless.
In 1991, with a bachelor’s degree in hand, the budding artist couldn’t find a job. “I graduated during the first Gulf War with a fine arts degree. The only job offer I received was sweeping land mines in Kuwait. I was all set to go, but my family talked me out of it,” he says. Instead, he decided to move to Japan. It didn’t take long for him to find work teaching English. He also met his future wife, Chikako, with whom he now has two children.
In Japan, Myers visited museums and learned about Tetsubin—ceremonial cast-iron vessels. The elaborately textured and atypically shaped pots are used for boiling and pouring water. “My interest in textures and colors completely changed after looking at Tetsubin,” he reports.
Two years later, he returned to the states and settled in Sedona. “I located a foundry in need of a bronze chaser and worked there for a couple of years. In 1996, when an abandoned foundry became available, Myers took it over. There, he designed and poured his own works along with those of other sculptors.
Fast-forward to 2005, when the artist was having trouble selling one particular spherical sculpture. “I showed it to a friend who owned a company that sold bronze sinks. He said, ‘If you add a drain, I can sell it as a sink.’ I did and the sink flew off the shelves. So I sculpted another style sink, and it sold out too. I didn’t set out to make sinks but when something is that successful, what do you do?”
The Kyoto top-mount bronze sink, 71/4"H by 161/2"W, features a decorative rim, textured exterior and bronze rings.
It’s been 18 years since he ventured out on his own, and this Master of the Southwest continues to wow people with his bronze wares. Not one to shy away from hard work, Myers can be found daily at his foundry. When pouring bronze, which gets heated to between 2,050 degrees F to 2,200 degrees F, he dons fire-resistant Kevlar garb. Although the work is messy and laborious, the results are anything but.
Myers’ sinks come in an array of styles, shapes, sizes and patinas—gold, antique bronze, green and copper—and some weigh in excess of 50 pounds. Each has a unique look and texture; all echo ancient relics, as if unearthed from an archeological dig. “I like my sinks to look old, rustic and well used. I also like contrasting smooth, highly refined surfaces with rougher textures,” notes the artist, who does all of his own metal work and patinas. “People are hardly sculpting anymore. Many use 3-D scanning machines. The pieces are perfect but lack character. I prefer Old World ways. It’s an honor for me to sculpt, to create something that is meaningful to others and that will last,” he confides.
Photos - From left:
, 51/2"H by 181/2"W by 181/2"L, bronze, boasts a graceful, Contemporary shape. •
, 61/2"H by 18"W by 4"D, bronze, features a sculptural, curvaceous form.
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