Meet Stereo Mike. He’s got the brain of a disco ball, the head of a fire extinguisher, the nose of a hammer head, and the torso of an exhaust pipe.
Stereo Mike is the brain child of local metal sculptor Andrew Stacey. It started when he found an old, non-working microphone at a garage sale for $1.50.
“I immediately thought of a robot singing into a mic,” he told me. “The rest of it was constructing a robot guy around the microphone.”
Mike’s arms are made from metal tubes Stacey found in the scrap bin at Princess Auto. The eyes are the nuts off his old utility trailers and the shoulders are from a piece of cylinder tubing he got from Downie Saw Mill. The result is a singing robot, with fully poseable arms, that looks like it came out of a 1950s B-movie.
Stereo Mike is exemplary of the way Stacey works – he’ll find one piece and work from there. Bob the Gargoyle – a nine-foot tall, 900-pound sculpture complete with wings and horns – started with some metal pieces a former co-worker found. “That just started with the pieces for the toes,” said Stacey. “Because the feet were so big, that meant the gargoyle had to be nine-feet tall.”
Likewise, some big chains he got from Downie, led Stacey to create Fluffy, a three-headed hydra that sits in his yard.
Stacey began creating metal sculptures while working for Monashee Manufacturing, a fabrication shop in Kelowna. “The truth is, I was stuck for a Christmas present so I started making things out of the scrap metal that was there,” he said.
He went to the corner of his workspace and pulled out a five-armed candle holder made from some left over metal cuts that were laying about the shop, some pipe pieces that fit the tea lights and a base. He welded it all together and came away with a gift for his wife Joanne.
“I didn’t go out of my head to make a five-arm candelabra,” he said. “I went and found pieces that looked like arms and turned them into a five-arm candelabra.”
The roughness of that piece stood in stark contrast to Stacey’s later work, such as the steel bench that was sitting on the work table of his workspace. With a perforated metal seat, and square steel tubing for the legs, it has a polish and refinement that makes it suitable for the right space.
Stacey was born in Vancouver, the son of an electrician and grandson of a millwright. “Fixing and building stuff is how I grew up,” he said. He got his start as a sculptor in Kelowna and after gaining some recognition there, he and his wife moved to Calgary, where he rented a studio and tried to make a living as an artist. When that didn’t work out, he took a job as a conductor with CP Rail and moved to Revelstoke, where he’s been a fixture at the Visual Arts Centre and at Art First.
Stacey’s workspace is filled with pieces of scrap metals – metal hooks, gears, pipes, and whatever else he found or was given. He works with two types of welders, a plasma cutter, sand blaster and air compressor.
His work is a mix of functional design pieces like the legs of his dining room table, which were made from some big metal chains; and creative works that are heavily inspired by science fiction and fantasy.
His sense of humour is also a feature of his work. A spike-mace driven into a keyboard is titled ‘Press any key to continue’ and one of his more unique pieces is a ray gun sculpture he calls the ‘TK101 Planetary Destabilizer.’
I asked Stacey why he likes working with metal.
“It’s infinitely functional,” he replied. “You can manipulate it endlessly.
“With steel, you can take it, cut it apart, re-use the pieces. If it doesn’t fit quite right, you can patch it up, you can fill it. It’s such a flexible medium.
“This was a good fit for me because there’s so much cool stuff you can do. You can add wood, you can add rock, you can add glass. You can add other components but the basic structure is so versatile that I love it.”
You can find Andrew Stacey’s work at Art First Gallery at 113 First St. West, or visit his website at www.andrewstaceyart.com.