Bart Kerwin, whose metal sculptures are featured at Ortman Family Wines, is modest about his talent.
“I'm not going to say that I'm a creative artist” who brings a work to life from his imagination, Kerwin said. “I really see something that's already there,” such as shapes found in nature.
“A lot of my work has elements of geometry in it, which I think has something to do with the way my mind works,” said the retired engineer.
Some artists go through the school of hard knocks, but for Kerwin, the galleries of Carmel provided his education. For 35 years, he and wife Carol traveled to the famous art community for two-week vacations, exploring the galleries, adding to their collection. Then it was back to Los Angeles and their jobs in the aeronautics industry. “Technical stuff,” Kerwin said.
Fifteen years ago, he began exploring metal work, but once the couple retired and moved to Arroyo Grande in 2000, Kerwin gave free rein to his creative urges.
He can't pinpoint a specific influence among other sculptors, but he credits them all with blazing the trail he has followed.
“I see work and it gives me ideas,” Kerwin said. “It could be anything, marble, granite. Then I go home trying to figure out how I could do something like that in stainless steel.”
He creates various themes of free-standing and wall-hanging sculptures of formed, plasma cut and welded steel, with marble, granite, glass and brass. Also a drummer, Kerwin does some musical sculptures, such as chimes, along with other yard art.
Kerwin did take a welding and a sculpting class, but he's chiefly learned his craft “the way I've learned how to do most everything: from books,” he said. Other sculptors are also helpful and willingly share information, he added.
Often he will get ideas for another work while he's making a particular piece, keeping the ideas flowing.
As Kerwin began creating more sculptures, they kept piling up in the house. So three years ago Kerwin began to part with some of them through exhibitions.
In 2009 his construction “On the First Day” earned the Purchase Award for the United Methodist Church's Beacon Art Show.
“That was a big boost to my belief in myself,” he acknowledged. He also won an Award of Merit in the recent Beacon show.
This past year, Kerwin has exhibited at the Loft Gallery in Paso Robles and Cambria's Schoolhouse Gallery sculpture show, and is set for a one-man exhibit at the San Luis Obispo Art Museum in November.
Going full circle to the site of inspiration, Kerwin also exhibited at Carmel's Sculpture Garden. Although the Kerwins no longer need to “get away from it all” since moving to the Central Coast, they continue to visit Carmel, where Bart Kerwin replenishes his creative juices.