There's some fantastic work gracing Fort Wayne's Artlink gallery now... paintings, drawings, sculpture. But the truly inspiring stuff, art that takes your breath away, is off in a corner along a hidden hallway...small handmade metal works hammered out of sheets of copper, brass and bronze that recall the grace only nature can exhibit..subtle and imaginative delights born in the mind of a true master and brought to life, in a shack in the woods.
“I started drawing probably as soon as I could hold a pencil,” says sculptor Steve Shelby. “I wasn't good at much else.”
Steve Shelby began making art as a kid and as he grew he found himself seduced by the natural world we all inhabit.
“I love to observe nature and observe growing things, plants,” he says. “If you really observe how a leaf starts out all curled up and then unfurls in a very specific way it's just an amazing thing.”
Shelby studied jewelry making in college and his finest pieces reflect the techniques used by jewelers. Many of his pieces look like things you find on a forest floor or inhabiting the woods..remarkable work especially when you realize they were beaten into shape with a hammer on a homemade anvil. And then there are his fantasy pieces. This is one he just finished, a teapot made of copper and brass. Shelby fashioned a clay sculpture of the piece before he began the metal work just to act as a guide.
“Usually the piece I make looks a little different but usually I can say it looks better,” he says. “I like making new things that I've never made before that are different from what I've made before.”
Despite their beauty selling his work is a challenge for the artist, most art galleries sell only paintings. But Shelby still manages to sell work all over the globe..China, Australia, much of Europe. Wherever people are charmed by nature and impressed with perfection.
'What gives you the most satisfaction about your work?' we ask. “That I set out to make it a certain way, I had a certain thing in mind and it looks like what I had in mind. 'How much longer are you going to do this?' we ask. “Until I go blind or get crippled. 'Physically unable to do it?' “Yeh. I'll keep doing it.”