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National exhibit features Pagosa sculptor Clay Vyzralek

By Denise Coffee
Special to The PREVIEW

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Photo courtesy SHY RABBIT
“Spray” (hand-formed, recycled stainless steel and paint), by Pagosa Springs artist Clay Vyzralek, is included in The ART of it ALL 2, a national exhibit on display at SHY RABBIT Contemporary Arts through Jan. 11.

Pagosa Springs artist Clay Vyzralek is one of the local talents currently featured in The ART of it ALL 2 — a national juried exhibition at SHY RABBIT Contemporary Arts.

Vyzralek’s hand-formed recycled stainless steel sculptures were inspired by earth, wind and water, combined with his love of surfing and sailing.

Like many others with a passion for expression through original work, Vyzralek’s personal history is deeply rooted in his metal sculptures. The materials he uses and the shapes that evolve are far from accidental. Each element, whether physical or intangible, is a thread that firmly ties the pieces he creates to who he is and what he loves.

The first thread developed as Vyzralek grew up surfing and sailing along Southern California’s South Bay coastline in the early 1960s. He considers himself extremely fortunate to have lived in an environment rich with opportunities for spending free time on, in and sometimes under the water of the dynamic Pacific Ocean.

Through his passions for sailing and surfing, he learned not only to respect the power of sea and the forces created by the interaction between the wind and the configuration of ocean floor, but also to appreciate the shapes associated with utilizing all of that energy to produce momentum and speed.

In the early 1970s, necessity for earning a living wove a new thread into Vyzralek’s life. He incorporated what he learned about shape, aerodynamics, and speed from sailing and surfing into his career as an automotive shop owner specializing in restoration of vintage Lotus sports and racing cars.

The aerodynamic shape of the Lotus cars made sense to Vyzralek — they were fast and efficient, not unlike the waves he rode or sailed. This new thread evolved when metal fabrication became an essential skill in building and restoring Lotus cars. Sculpting with metal was challenging and fun for him, even if he was working with a simple bracket.

Vyzralek’s interests took a new leap as he began to experiment with stainless steel. Emerging threads formed as the steel took shape in his mind and sculpted waves evolved.

“Although I take liberties with my wave sculptures, for the most part they are intended to not only represent credible shapes and related forms generated by the interaction between water, wind, and the earth’s surfaces, but also a sense of the beauty of waves, their colors, and ever changing forms,” Vyzralek said.

“Spray” and “Hot Spot” are sculpted from sheets of “repurposed” stainless steel, originally used as plates in a label printing process. Vyzralek incorporates a blend of hand-hammering, cutting, heating, and painting of the steel to achieve a sense of motion and play of light for the viewer.

Vyzralek, a 15-year resident of Pagosa Springs, said he feels honored to be part of The ART of it ALL 2 as an emerging artist. He had hoped for a venue to share his work and is pleased to have found that through this exhibition.

This diverse, all-media national juried exhibition features 90 original works of art by 46 emerging to nationally recognized artists from 15 U.S. states and is on display through Jan. 11.

The range of artworks on display include contemporary basketry, fiber, bronze and ceramic sculptures, collage, digital, hand-formed recycled stainless steel sculptures, mixed media, paintings, fine and re-purposed furniture, fine art prints, drawings, photography, assemblage, ceramics, wax-resist egg shells, fabric art quilts and glass, among others.

Among the lengthy roster of artists selected for display are a number from Pagosa Country, including Sandy Applegate, Valentina Bezney, Todd Condon – Todd Condon Fine Furniture, Kathie Disner, Linda Echterhoff, Charla Ellis, Buster Griggs, Ursala Hudson, Ivy King, Susan Martin-Serra, Polly McLaughlin, Dee Pitchon and Vyzralek.

SHY RABBIT is located at 333 Bastille Drive; two blocks north of U.S. 160, off of North Pagosa Boulevard, and is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at no charge.

For more information on SHY RABBIT, visit www.shyrabbit.com or call 731-2766. For more information on exhibitions, visit http://www.shyrabbit.com/Exhibits.html.

This story was posted on December 12, 2013.