Artist Jay Sawyer’s twisted humor revealed in his new alphabet sculptures

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 11:00am

WALDOBORO — Who says art has to be so serious?

Sculpture artist Jay Sawyer, well known for his sculpture garden now known as Studio J Bone in Warren, only needed one letter in the alphabet — e — to trigger his sense of humor. Forging the lowercase version out of iron, he created what he called Iron e. As Alanis Morrisette would say, isn’t it ironic?

“All of the feedback I got from that one piece was to keep going and create the entire alphabet,” he said. “I was actually resistant at first.”

But he kept going with it and it took three years to create all 26 letters (plus multiple incarnations of certain letters). “I imagine the phonic of the letter and then picture it uppercase or lowercase, then I work a fair share of puns into the piece,” he said.

Take his F-bomb. It’s constructed of a coated ball of steel. From the top emerges a length of pipe on which he welded two additional pieces to form an “f.” From the mouth of the pipe emerges the “wick” of the bomb, which is actually a piece of cable from a guard rail.

Sawyer said art doesn’t always have to evoke a heavy feeling, as long as it evoke some kind of feeling.

“This is a new direction for me,” he said. “There’s a lot of color in these pieces. When I stand next to the F Bomb, it puts a smile on my face.”

“I’ve got a kids’ version of the alphabet I can show and an adult’s,” he says with a grin. “It’s enough to keep you interested, for sure.”

That’s evident in his bluer pieces, like the Screw U (welded entirely of screws) and the G spot (self-explanatory).

With each piece, he feels a personal connection, but none more so than the J Walking sculpture, a welded J with playful legs. Sawyer has positioned the piece on train tracks, on a stone wall, and smack in the middle of the road

“Even other people have commented this piece is more of a self-portrait,” he said. “Whatever he’s doing he’s strutting it.”

Sawyer is hoping to turn his letters into a commercial franchise with a book, cards, t-shirts and mugs.

With more than 40 pieces created, he’s going to be debuting the letters at the University of Maine at Farmington at the Emery Community Arts Center on Aug. 29. The show has a reception planned for Sept. 9,  from 5 to 7 p.m., and they plan to have an opening reception and concert on Sept. 9, from 5-7 p.m., with a concert to follow on the side lawn at 8 p.m. The show will hang for two months.

Let’s hope the public finds the iron “e” in all of it.

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