This past weekend I attended the annual Long Beach Open Studio Tour – an open invitation to peek inside the studios of over 40 Long Beach artists. I heard about this tour last year, but, unfortunately, could not attend. Like a little reminder from the universe, the link to the tour popped up on my web browser while searching for possible studio spaces.
Most of the artists on the tour were painters and photographers. As I do love painting and photographers as much as the next person – I found myself more incline to visit studios of artists specializing in 3d art. I invited my friend Jurate as my space invading partner. With our list in hand, we headed out to meet and be inspired by some Long Beach creatives. The first on our list was the home studio of Ron Leiter.
Ron Leiter, is a self taught metal sculptor in his early 70’s. His work is large in scale – we were stunned when approaching his sculptures as they look much much smaller on the tour brochure – ranging from 2′ – 4′. Made of mostly steel sheet and rod, Ron’s sculptures are built entirely by hand. Each piece is constructed by cutting and shaping the steel sheets and rod using anvil, hammers, grinders etc., then welding pieces together using oxy-acetylene torch – a very similar process to us in the metalsmithing world. Ron learned how to weld (if I remember our conversation correctly) in the 60’s during a time, as he put it:
“when people were searching for God, and I was searching for a new skill”
During his young adult and adult years, Ron graduated UC Berkeley, taught high school, and owned and operated a landscaping business for years in Southern California – all while practicing, exploring and refining his skills as a Metal Sculptor. During our very brief chat (I didn’t want to ask too many questions as there were other interested visitors waiting to probe as well) he mentinon one detail that threw me for a bit; he’s been sculpting metal for, basically, 4 decades, and this was his first time showing his work to the public! *Insert gasp here* And I am so thankful he did!
To say his work is ‘amazing’ or ‘cool’ is to call a butterfly ‘cute’. I’m no wordsmith, but if I were to attach a word or two to his work, it would be ‘quiet’ and ‘alluring’. Again, I am no wordsmith.
I’ll post about reminder of the studio tour shortly.
Thanks for reading,