Many have unsuccessfully tried to describe the centuries old, unfathomable bond between horse and man. One man does not attempt to describe it. He creates it in metal.
Artist John Lopez originally made a name for himself in the world of sculpture through his bronze castings. If you had ever visited Rapid City, South Dakota, you probably noticed presidential statues on almost every corner of the downtown area. Realistic and meticulously thought out, these pieces are the pride of Rapid City and an ongoing project for John Lopez.
Apart from presidential portraits, John is quite taken by the South Dakota ranching life and all it entails. In his portfolio, you can find sculptures of cattle, horses, bison, deer, and even dinosaurs. Surprisingly, his bronze sculptures are not the ones that are creating all the stir. His welded sculptures on the other hand, the likes of the Draft Horse above and the Friesian below, turn heads wherever they are placed.
The unusual detour from bronze sculpting into sculpting with repurposed farm equipment began a few years ago, after John's beloved aunt passed away. The project that started it all was a cemetery fence. Lopez moved to his widowed uncle's ranch to build a family cemetery. As he was working on the fence around the cemetery, John ran out of materials. Being 35 miles away from the nearest town or post office made him look for scrap metal he could use to finish the project. After some experimentation, he finished a gate into the cemetery, and then made a small angel peering over the top of the gate. Everyone who saw the gate was amazed at the result, and the rest was proverbial history.
Not wanting to depart from his bronze casting expertise, John found a way to merge the two art forms into a new hybrid sculpture form that combines everyday objects with limited edition bronze castings. Hybrid Metal Art, a sculptural fusion of figurative and funk, a blend of iron and bronze, of stately and steampunk was born. Once you see it, you will know it's like nothing else out there, and it is so unmistakably John Lopez.
In 2008, John placed his scrap iron monument, Triceratops Cowboy, in front of the Grande River Museum in Lemmon, SD and later that same year, a scrap iron T-Rex statue found its home in Faith, SD in honor of the largest T-Rex ever found. A year later, a life-size scrap metal horse sculpture won the People's Choice Award at the Sculpture In The Hills show in Hill City, SD. Matter of fact, that same horse now greets visitors in front of a couple of galleries in downtown Hill City. In 2000, John Lopez was commissioned by the Pro Rodeo Hall Of Fame to create two bronze monuments for their sculpture garden: one of the World Champion Calf Roper, Paul Tierney, on Coffee Jeff - a horse raised by the artist's uncle Geno, and the other featuring Charmayne James on her famous horse, Scamper.
Oftentimes, John is asked what he imagines his grandfather, a pioneer stockman, would have thought of his scrap iron sculpture. The artist answers with a quote from an elderly gentleman who came to one of his exhibits. After peering intently at a scrap metal saddle for a long time, the man announced, "Now, that's art!"
We at hART Sense Design completely agree. John's sculptures are so realistic yet so unique, and what makes them even more appealing is that he chooses subjects that can be found on the vast prairies and in the Black Hills of our home state. Thank you, John Lopez, for showing the world that South Dakota is anything but boring!
To find out more about John Lopez and his art, visit his website at www.johnlopezstudio.com
the mind and hands behind hART Sense Design. I am a designer and hand-maker of one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewelry and accessories for artistic, chic cowgirls, boho babes, and lovers of all things western.
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