'Alchemy' in flight

"Alchemy of Light," a bronze sculpture by Talent artist Kevin Christman that for years sat outside Soundpeace in Ashland, has been chosen for an exhibit of sculptures from around the world in the European Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona, Spain.

"The piece is about healing through listening and going internal," Christman says.

The exhibit runs from Oct. 3 to Nov. 17. From there, "Alchemy of Light" moves to two other museums in Spain. Christman and his partner, Julie O'Dwyer, leave for Spain Sunday to attend the artists' reception and to participate in panels answering questions and talking about their works.

"I just made the piece without a buyer, I just had to get it out of me," Christman says of "Alchemy." The sculpture is still for sale, with a price tag of $50,000. O'Dwyer and Christman hope whoever buys it will display it publicly for all to see and enjoy.

"Kevin's intention is that it be on public display," O'Dwyer says.

When the crouching angel sculpture was put up at Soundpeace in 2007, it was found to be in violation of Ashland's antiquated sign code, which prohibited three-dimensional objects. After a lengthy debate, the City Council rewrote the code to allow artwork, but kept limits on commercial promotions.

The exhibit at the Barcelona museum, called "Figurativas," drew more than 2,600 applicants from around the world. Christman was one of 43 sculptors selected. Judging by the names on the list, he may be one of only four or five American artists, he says.

As part of the selection process, sculptors had to ship their pieces to Spain, then judges traveled to the museum to view the art in person.

"They flew these people in to jury these pieces," Christman says.

Christman started sculpting after working at a foundry in 1990. Before that, he painted and worked as an engineer for eight years.

The couple plan to be in Spain for two weeks to take in some of the sights, including architecture by Antoni Gaudi and art by Salvador Dali. Christman hopes the trip will provide some inspiration for his more religious pieces, including the stained glass windows and sculptures he's been commissioned to create for St. Mary's School's new chapel. He hopes to finish that project sometime next year.

"I can't believe how many famous artists have works right there in Barcelona," Christman says. "When I started looking into it, I was amazed. The museum is right around the corner from the Picasso museum."

Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or by email at avalencia@mailtribune.com.

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