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Minnesota sculptor's metalworks on display at Nemeth Art Center

This deceptively wood-like sculpture is actually mild steel. Sculptor Dave Linder primarily works with metals, such as stainless steel, copper, silver, gold and aluminum. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)1 / 2
Linder's sculptures, like this anvil, appear old due to "custom manipulation of the oxidized patina," he explains.2 / 2

Using age-old blacksmithing techniques coupled with modern-day fabrication techniques, sculptor David Linder forges metal sculptures.

His work is featured at the Nemeth Art Center's community gallery during July.

Linder, 39, lives and works in Buffalo, Minn. He's a full-time sculptor, while also holding a day job as an insurance adjuster.

"The objects depict two images, that of several bulls and two anvils," Linder explains in his artist statement. "I use age-old tools (hammer, anvil, swage block, coal forge, a wooden stump, etc.) and modern machines (a power hammer, tig and mig welders, a plasma cutter, gas forge and torches, automated rollers and benders, shears, etc.)."

The anvils are "portraits" of real 140-year-old ones that Linder owns and uses.

"I've got seven old anvils that I use in my shop," he said.

The bulls express different emotions — wisdom or wanderlust, for instance.

All of the stand-alone sculptures were forged and fabricated using mild steel.

"There's so many different kinds of steel," Linder said. "Mild steel is pretty much what you see in commercial applications, like trailers or steel girders."

During his 20-year career, he has worked with stainless steel, copper, silver, gold and aluminum as well.

"Why I use mild steel, for the most part, is when you're heating it up it moves really well under the hammer. If you are doing it by hand over an anvil or using a power hammer, it just flows real nice. It's kind of like if you took butter and hit it with you hand," he said.

While the sculptures appear antiquated, they were, in fact, made with new steel. Linder utilized a custom manipulation of oxidized patina to craft an aged look.

Some of the shapes seem to be "found objects, but are all intensively hand-formed with the aid of some specialized automation processes," Linder said. "The fluting, all the shapes, and these compound curves, I have to figure out how to make. I just like the challenge of it."

His aesthetic is influenced by his northwest Illinois farming background. Linder recalls tinkering with farm implements as a young boy.

"I think there was a spark of love, some sort of affection for tools and just getting dirty and feeling good about fixing things or putting things together yourself," he said.

While studying fine art oil painting at Western Michigan University, Linder serendipitously enrolled in a metalsmithing course. Through graduate school, workshops and experimentation, he learned coppersmithing, welding and blacksmithing.

The theme of "persistence" emerged while Linder fashioned the pieces for the Nemeth exhibit.

A self-described "obstinate artist," Linder says his "20-year, full-time affliction with art has taught me to control the materials using my craft, while at the same time recognizing the beauty of the natural stubbornness of the materials and allowing it to influence the direction of the artistic intention."

The artist's nature is to persist, he says.

"I am thankful that artists persist in making art. I am equally thankful that art lovers persist in exhibiting and discussing art," writes Linder.

His work will be on display through July 29.

Admission is free to the NAC galleries, which are open Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through September.

The Nemeth Art Center is located in the upper level of the historic county courthouse, located at 301 Court Ave. For more information upcoming exhibits and membership privileges, visit www.nemethartcenter.org or call 218-616-2064.

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