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Welding

Sculpted Sturgis

By Meghan Boyer

October 2010- To create his sculptures, Dale Lamphere typically first finds a large stone and lays it on a sheet of stainless steel. He then begins to draw around it in response to the shape of the stone. Once he has determined a basic outline, he uses a plasma cutter to cut out the metal shape.

"It's very much a process-oriented method that I use. It's exciting for me because I never know quite where I am going. I am looking for an honest gesture something that creates a context around the existing stone that's meaningful," he says.

Lamphere is among the artists who displayed sculptural pieces at the inaugural Sturgis Sculpture Walk in Sturgis, S.D. The show, which Lamphere also helped organize, runs from May 1 through Oct. 31 and features 15 sculptures exhibited largely along Main St. in Sturgis.

Fabricating sculptures
Fourteen artists from nine states created sculptures using a variety of techniques, says Bob York, founder and president of Weaver Art Gallery, Sturgis, S.D., and an organizer of the exhibit. "We have a good cross section of artists from all over," says York. There are multiple stainless steel sculptures in the exhibit, one hammered steel piece, multiple bronze sculptures, and bronze and steel combinations, he says, noting the artists used a variety of metal fabricating and forming techniques to achieve the looks they desired for their art.

To create the sculpture "Eve," artist Gary Mitchell used a technique he learned from the aircraft industry. He draped an armature with hand-shaped pieces of aluminum sheet metal and fastened the pieces with rivets, according to the Sturgis Sculpture Walk website. The work is impressive because "everybody welds at this point because welding technology has gotten to such a high level," yet Mitchell chose to hammer the aluminum sheets by hand and rivet them together in "very much the same way as the Statue of Liberty was created," Lamphere says.

For his sculptures, Lamphere uses a TIG welder to add dimension after cutting out the metal outlines using a plasma cutter. "I try to integrate the stone into the stainless in such a way that it becomes a new object," he says. Lamphere, who owns D.C. Lamphere Studio, Sturgis, S.D., has fabricated pieces up to roughly 35 ft. tall.

Inaugural event
The goal of the Sturgis Sculpture Walk is to add interest to Main St. in Sturgis, which holds multiple events throughout the year, including the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. York and Lamphere, who worked on planning the project for roughly 1.5 years before it began, tried to model it on other sculpture walks in cities such as Sioux Falls, S.D.

Sturgis as a location, however, presented some unique challenges. "We have a few hurdles" other cities don't have, says York. "We have a snow problem on our Main St. through most of the winter, so our pedestals would have to come up at the end of October," which is why the exhibit is running for six months instead of one year, he says.

The pedestals became one of the largest projects related to the exhibit, says York. The pedestals that hold the sculptures are made out of interlocking patio blocks. "The insides of the pedestals are hollow, but we had to pour a leveling pad [of concrete] on the street," he says. Building them took all of April. To find artists, York and Lamphere distributed applications throughout the art community nationwide to recruit participants, and they received roughly 35 completed applications. One of the major draws of the Sturgis Art Walk for artists is the exposure to thousands of consumers, says York. "Sturgis being the largest motorcycle rally in the state, we pitched it with the idea that the artist would have a 500,000-person audience over a two-week time period," he says. The two evaluated the applications and "chose the ones we felt were best designed for a good visionary experience down Main St.," says York. FFJ

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