Arts and Entertainment

Heavy metal, as emotion

by MICHAEL DASHIELL
Sequim Gazette

The last thing metal sculpture artist Larry McCaffrey does to complete one of his pieces is name it.
As with other works of contemporary art, McCaffrey’s pieces leave much more to the imagination than others with varying degrees of realism.

“They either understand contemporary art,” McCaffrey says, “or they want to see a horse.”

Visitors to the Fairhaven Originals Gallery near Bellingham won’t see any animals — unless a serpent’s tail counts — when the Sequim artist opens his feature show there on Jan. 14.

The show runs through February.

“Everything I do doesn’t start (with) being something,” McCaffrey says. “It’s usually something visually nice.”

A 35-year veteran of sheet metal work, McCaffrey says he’s always been interested in art. But for years he lived on a sailboat, hardly the place to store and work with large, metal-manipulating machinery for the kind of art he wanted to do.

That changed when he moved to dry land, coming to Sequim about eight years ago. A member of the Blue Whole Gallery, McCaffrey shapes metal into bold, abstract expressions with a polished look that separates it from more industrial, raw metal sculptures.

That theme is carried out in the 10-plus pieces of work he’s displaying at the Fairhaven gallery, a venue that opened in June.

Some are quite heavy — one piece called “Lava Cooling” combines a 20-pound basalt column with metal — while others include several separate layers that give wall art a three-dimensional feel.

The Fairhaven exhibit features five brand new McCaffrey pieces.

McCaffrey first makes full-sized mock-ups of his art using poster board, then uses one of three kinds of metal for his art: powder-coated, mild or stainless steel.

Between conception and the finish, he uses plasma cutters, shaping rolls, welding devices, grinders, and even nitric acid that takes discoloration away.

McCaffrey saves the hardest part for last: giving it a name.


Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.

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