Jaroslav Vrabec, Jerry, upon immigrating to Canada (1984), has stayed the course as teacher, inventor, technician and a true artist for the inception of Custom Art Metal Work (1996)
Mixed metals media and the traditionally smithed, welded and soldered composites are transformed under the resolutely Czech influences of this master craftsman and engineer. A drapery of stainless steel in his piece Sewing Machine, the red oxide glow intended for Pig Moby Dick and the well-tempered muscularity of his steel life-size horse depict Jerry’s shaping of these physical substances into engaging works of art.
Every year since 2005 Jerry has welcomed the public on the London Artist’s Studio Tour into his own studio gallery and workshop at Custom Art Metal Work.
Jerry’s compound metal grates gates and railings, inherently utilitarian metalwork, have left timelessly graceful and ambient marks. An exterior security gate slips into the skyline; a steel interior wall grants an angler’s wish for fish!
Three life-size horse sculptures race through the sky at the entrance to “the 17 ranch” outside London. On the installation of this signature weathervane-type piece of outdoor steel art, the owner/operator of this farm writes with pride and gratitude for talents shared, “When our visitors and horse aficionados drive into the driveway they continue to comment on how we have ‘honoured The Horse with style and beauty’.
A steel pig sculpture was created for a London meat shop, where it stands out in front in a muddy patch. It’s perky little showmanship tail wordlessly conveys the business’ message: Canadian Grown Meat Products Sold Here.
Reeling with symbolism researched prior to his sketching and 3 dimensional modelling, his tribute pieces culminate steeped in meaningful juxtaposition of multi-parts. Coming from Confederation, a Canadian sesquicentennial celebratory sculpture, is replete with Jerry’s weathervane style. Consider the stainless steel sail (a parchment) that swivels about its mast (a quill) anchored in an acrylic blue-lined ink well beneath this navigable ship’s molded copper hull, the unequivocal shape of our seventh province, home to the Charlottetown Conference. The Charlie Fox Memorial Overpass sculpture soars 36 feet in the air, in the centre of London’s first roundabout traffic circle. This weathervane type aeroplane structure is Jerry’s translation of the apprisal for freedom fighters worldwide and a tribute to WWII Pilot Charlie Fox.
A lofty gust is revealed again in the spin of the anemometer atop Western Wind, a 14 ft multi-part steel weathervane type sculpture located at Custom Art Metal Work, London ON. This elemental motion gives welcome pause to the range of quality of experience – of the sensuous richness of life – to be found in the metal art of Jaroslav (Jerry) Vrabec.