On Aug. 2 and 3, the Central Oregon Metal Arts Guild (COMAG) is having its 13th annual show at the Oxford Hotel and it is going to melt your face—if your face is made of metal.
Metal working is ancient and can be traced all the way back to 8700 BCE with the discovery of a copper pendant in Northern Iraq. Eventually, metal objects were assigned worth and even religious significance until even the survival of entire civilizations became dependent on their metal working technology for war and conquest.
While the art aspect of metals has never been lost or truly forgotten, modern culture's focus certainly has softened in the years since the advent of more cutting edge technologies. But COMAG has not forgotten and its members certainly still create fine metal art—much on display, in big and small objects, this weekend.
Instead of the show being a hodgepodge of everyone's work (a melting pot, if you will), each of the 24 local guild artists will have their own booth and arrangement of their work. The show began as a way for the different stores that carried the artists' work to have a place to sell their stock, but the event has evolved into an artist-driven showcase.
Show designer and committee member Goph Albitz has been an artist for most of his life. "I have been at this now for 46 years. I started my career in 1958 as a precision toolmaker for the aerospace industry," Goff says. His work ranges from ornate, almost battle-scarred rings to very modern sculptures and water features.
When asked about what he wanted to accomplish with this show, Goph told me, "Our hope with this more elegant and larger format is to finally be able to present ourselves to the community and show the very diverse talent held in the 57 current members. Jewelers, sculptors, blacksmiths, fabricators—even a stone cutter and a glass blower—as long as they incorporate metal into their work."
Stuart Breidenstein's (Stuart's of Bend) art also will be on display. His unstuck-in-time work looks like it was forged in the fires of Mount Doom and hardened by Medusa's glare; his metal fire pit designs at last Winterfest, which literally spit out fire, were one of the festival's most talked about highlights.
Ashley Scholtes, owner and designer at Mitch Jewelery, is another one of the local artists present at the COMAG exhibit. "I took Metalcraft 1 at COCC. I loved the class so much, I ended up taking it three more times in a row! Then I stopped going to school, cut my hair and got a real job. When I quit, I worked for a couple places here in town making jewelry, and then started my own company, and haven't looked back since!"
Central Oregon Metal Arts Guild Show
August 2-3, 10am-9pm
The Oxford Hotel, 10 NW Minnesota