Lakewood Ranch Herald

Art at the Ranch: Metalwork, juried art shines

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Spectators praised Jorge Gutarra’s metalwork on display at Art at the Ranch on Main Street on Saturday as “amazing” and “clever.”

And for good reason. His sculptures are made from stainless steel flatware: forks, knives and spoons.

“They’re gorgeous,” remarked Rona Duff, of Apollo Beach. “This is definitely unique.”

Gutarra was one of 70 artists at the ninth annual Art at the Ranch sponsored by Art Center Manatee and Lakewood Ranch Communities. The show continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The two-day juried art show is a fundraiser for the art center, which uses the funds to offset operating costs throughout the year, according to Bill Mears, chairman of the show.

Art at the Ranch began nine years ago in the parking lot of the Publix on University Parkway with 40 artists, said Mears. The show debuted on Main Street two years ago, attracting about 20,000 people the first year and about 15,000 people last year.

“The turnout has been pretty good,” said Mears. “Main Street has a tremendous ambience.”

This year hundreds of people strolled Main Street perusing the many artists’ booths, stopping occasionally to get a closer look. Artwork included sculpture, printmaking, jewelry, glass art, fabric art, leather work, photography and painting.

Rich Shisler, of Ohio, was pleasantly surprised by what he saw.

“It’s great,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of creativity here. You see things here you seldom see anywhere else.”

About half of the show’s participants were local artists like Bradenton watercolorist and longtime Art at the Ranch exhibitor Arthur Dillard. Dillard is best known for his extensive collection of jazz artist renderings, some painted monochromatically and others in vibrant colors.

Dillard’s subjects mirror his lifelong passion for jazz music, and his research always inspires him to do more.

“When you start doing a jazz painting, all of them are intertwined,” Dillard said about his work. “It’s like a family tree. They either played together as a group, or they played with another one. Once you do one, you start researching other ones.”

It was by accident Gutarra started welding spoons and forks one day in 1976. Once strictly a New York display artist and now a Lakewood Ranch transplant, someone initially asked him to do a piece for a window display.

Now Gutarra spends months working on his complex sculptures.

“I don’t make sketches,” said the artist of Peruvian descent. “I don’t work from templates. I just do. It’s a systematic improvisation. They are very time consuming and very expensive.”

An eagle took six months to finish, and is comprised of 2,000 pieces of flatware and weighs about 190 pounds. Because of the weight, time and expense it takes to create his art, Gutarra only brought a few pieces to the show: a fish, turkey, horse, mask and hat.

Still, onlooker Jamie Duff marveled at the craftsmanship.

“I think they’re wild,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”