Day Trips

The Texas Metal Arts Festival in Gruene features 25 of the top creative metalworkers in the state showing their creations ranging from fine jewelry to large outdoor sculptures

Warren Cullar and Kevin Box
Warren Cullar and Kevin Box (Photo By Gerald E. McLeod)

The Texas Metal Arts festival rocks and rolls with the heavy guns of regional artists. These aren't guitar slingers, but rather sculptors and artists who mold and twist metal into fine art. Their work is as raucous and wild as any heavy metal band.

The annual festival in Gruene features 25 of the top creative metalworkers in the state showing their creations ranging from fine jewelry to large outdoor sculptures. The show and sale include blacksmiths, cutlers, goldsmiths, and artists showing a sense of humor with their whimsical garden art.

During the two-day event, many of the artists will be demonstrating their techniques of forging, cutting, and welding metal. One of the artisans showing his work and demonstrating clay modeling for bronze casting will be Kevin Box of Bastrop. "The reason I do this show is because I get to meet a lot of local people and establish relationships," Box says. "Art is about communications whether someone buys something or not. It's supposed to be fun."

At 28 years old, Box has studied the visual arts and design in New York and Georgia. After working in graphic and package design in the East, he moved to Central Texas. "Like a lot of guys, a beautiful girl led me here," he says with a chuckle. More than that though, the Hill Country attracted him because of the large number of foundries and a community of sculptors. "There were a lot of opportunities to work here," he says.

After working at an art foundry in Marble Falls, Box helped establish the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry as one of the premier monument foundries in the state as production manager. Three years ago he struck out on his own as an artist. "It keeps getting better all the time," he says. "It's been an awesome journey."

Box melds his background in working with paper and bronze to produce unique creations that are sometimes traditional and sometimes push the limits of his medium. His signature pieces are probably the ones made with paper molds that look like origami frozen in bronze. He does a wide variety of creative pieces ranging from large public art to light fixtures.

"Having learned the techniques from the ground up," Box says, "I learned how to build the sculptures before I began designing them. I knew what I could get away with." That doesn't stop him from constantly trying new methods. His paper-to-bronze pieces look as light as a feather but weigh several hundred pounds.

"I want my art to be memorable," he says. "It should be a conversation piece. I want the geometry to tell a spiritual story and relate to the surrounding architecture." Box was recently recognized as one of the top 21 emerging artists in the Southwest by a national art magazine. Over the last few years, he is becoming established at art markets in Colorado and Santa Fe, N.M. "Dallas has really been my patron city," he says.

Although he has a studio in Bastrop and works out of the Cullar Studio and Gallery in Austin (www.artwarren.com), Box hasn't found the market for his work that he had hoped to find in the Capital City. "Austin needs more art festivals to bring the artists out to meet the community. I'm looking forward to establishing a relationship with more local people," he says.

You can meet Kevin Box and the other artists at the Texas Metal Arts festival in Gruene on Sept. 10 and 11 from 10am to 5pm. Admission to the festival is free and the E-Flat Porch Band will be playing in the oldest dance hall in Texas during the afternoon. Rodney Crowell takes the stage on Saturday night. For more information on the festival, call 903/852-3311 or go to www.texasmetalarts.com.

Box does not open his studio to the public on a daily basis, but does have regular studio and gallery showings in and around the state. The best way to contact him is through his Web site at www.outsidetheboxstudio.com.


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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Texas Metal Arts Festival, Kevin Box, Rodney Crowell, E-Flat Porch Band

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