Brewery: Los Angeles has impressive place for artists to live and work
Metal sculptor Bruce Gray's home/studio is rimmed with impressive spirals of barbed wire to repel trespassers who might gain acess from the adjacent train yard. Yet the feeling of his space is anything but grim. One of his creations, a steel cat the size of a Clydesdale, bekons visitors through his wrought-iron gate. Salmon pink cactus flowers blossom in his yard, alongside a dragon constructed of several hundred railroad ties. He describes the Brewery as "mellow and very social" - strong praise from a guy who bends steel bars with his bare hands. Gray, who has lived and worked in the Brewery for five years, initially sculpted wood but became frustrated with its inability to hold a razor-sharp edge. Today he works with hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel as well as aluminum, bending, cutting, grinding and welding shapes together to form urban assault furniture and heavy metal decor with an unbearable lightness of being. "I've been cutting the cheese for four days straight," he says, patting a work in progress - a wedge of welded aluminum Swiss cheese that would fill the trunk of a Cadillac. Aluminum, he explains, offers the sculptor many advantages over steel and other metals. "It's light," he says, easily hefting the huge wedge over his head, "and it doesn't rust. And you can get almost holographic effects by working the surface." Gray's work has an appealing dark side as well: a "chain mail" chair and a table set would be at home in a hip dungeon or on the set of a "Xena" episode. The chair was recently featured in a Madonna video. Gray used brilliant sign painter enamels on his work until recently. Now he favors the sharp contrast of dark, unpainted steel against the bright finish of brushed aluminum. he continues to incorporate "found" metal objects, including lenghts of heavy duty chain, gears, and train parts. "I haven't had to forage for metal in years," he says. "Now that people know my work, they bring me boxes of treasures all the time.
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