Brian Brook

Metal Artist

What I do:

My metal art is… Garden art. Wall art. Big art. Small art. Outdoor art. Indoor art. Found metal, mostly. Whimsical, mostly. Art to make you smile, laugh, think. Art that, well, when you get up in the morning, you can look at it, smile, and know you’ve done something good for yourself. Much of what I incorporate in my art has a reference to current or past farm life, some of the interesting places I’ve been, and the unique personalities of animals or people I’ve met throughout the world.

Everything I do is unique and one of a kind. It can’t be reproduced in quantity. Much of it is pieces of farm machinery rescued from a fence row or scrap yard. The retired implements of an agrarian life. Some incorporates industrial metal recovered from city scrap yards. Everything has a story to tell. And now, old metal has a new life.

How I do it:

I weld, braze, solder, rivet, bolt and screw. I heat up metal and bend it, grind it and shape it. I look for a new life for cast off, old, used up pieces and parts of just about anything. Sometimes I incorporate metal other than steel, like copper or brass. Sometimes I use stone, glass, or feathers. Sometimes (rarely) I use new metal. Mostly, I want someone to look at a piece of my art and identify with it in some way. To want to make it a part of their life, garden, or home.

Who I am:

I’m a social worker by education and practice, and spend my days running a psychosocial rehabilitation program for mentally ill adults. I’m also a farmer…again. I grew up on a family dairy farm, and spent the better part of my teenage years arranging for my exodus from the farming life. Yet, I find myself back on a farm. My wife, Judi, and I have raised llamas for the past 17 years. Our little 40 acre farm is home to 21 llamas, 5 dogs: 4 Yorkshire Terriers and a rescued greyhound (plus occasional litters of Yorkie pups.) Not to mention 5 cats (well, the number of cats keeps changing depending on how many are dropped off or wander in.)

I’ve traveled extensively through the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australasia. I’ve spent time living in Saudi Arabia and Australia. And I traveled on the cheap throughout Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe for 3 years, ending up circumnavigating our wonderful and fascinating world.

In 2003, I stumbled upon a metal art school and gallery in Kalamazoo, The Smart Shop. At the Smart Shop I began my firrst art class in 30 years. After 2 years or so of weekly instruction and shop time, I had created enough pieces to enter my first art fair. I sold enough of my work to begin thinking of entering more art fairs. But I needed more shop time than Thursday evenings and an occasional Sunday. So I took the plunge, quit the Smart Shop, built an large shop on our land, and purchased the requisite equipment to allow me to create metal art whenever I want and whenever I can.

I currently show at 5 – 6 juried fine art fairs every summer around the midwest. I also display at an occasional local show and, of course, at Three Rivers Artists Guild events.