Local sculptor David Sheldon, who also paints, took a concept inspired by the Blue Ridge mountains and adapted it to the Eastern Sierras. Following a month spent at the Buffalo Creek Art Center in Gardnerville, Nevada, Sheldon expanded the motif of a smaller installation he called “the Asheville Series” to create “Buffalo Creek Quartet” — four steel totems that stretch up to ten feet high. Suggesting the form of jamming musicians, the abstract figures, mounted on pedestals, are orbited by kinetic airborne shapes; the effect is breathless, suspenseful, a tableau caught in space and time like a held note.
Sheldon reminisces about the opportunities at the center, “with a huge studio to work in and every tool I could ask for at my disposal.” He says he used a 3/8 inch “thick mild steel” for the main forms and a 1/4″ version of the same material for the pedestals.
“I achieved the rust patina by first coating the steel with muriatic acid, rinsing that off, and applying a homemade patina ‘recipe’ of hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, and sea salt. The initial beautiful, golden-hued patina usually departs after a while to the traditional rust colors,” explains Sheldon, “but because of the current dry conditions out there, that process may proceed fairly slowly.”
At press time, the area, near Lake Tahoe, was being threatened by the Caldor wildfire. “It’s an awful situation to witness,” Sheldon notes, “but it’s looking hopeful, at the moment, that Tahoe and Gardnerville might be spared.”
Some of the pieces from the Asheville Series are on view at Mark Bettis Studio and Gallery (123 Roberts St., River Arts District, markbettisgallery.com). For more information, see sheldonstudioworks.com.