Saturday , 18 November 2017
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A Morning at the Ranch with George

On a cool February morning, about an hour out of McKinney, passing through Pilot Point, we arrive at the Ranch.  It’s my second visit to George Tobolowsky’s Mountain Springs Sculpture Studio and is the place where he transforms scrap iron junk….err….”found objects” into works of art.  A dirt road greets us as  we enter the Ranch, making us glad we came in the Range Rover.  Part way up the hill on the right is a piece we recognize as George’s:  A steel structure with ribbons of curves partnered with several of his signature circles.  A little farther up on the left is a James Surls piece with components Surls is known for – primarily pieces of cedar held together with steel.  It looks like a sunburst.

When we arrive, George greets us warmly.  This is no simple art studio.  It’s a male artist’s real man cave where completed works of art are created with welding gear and weigh several hundred pounds.  Heavy equipment is required to move them from place to place.  George has just wrapped up several shows around Texas, so there were many sculptures in the storage shed/ warehouse that he uses as his studio.  Most are six to eight feet tall and we spy several that we are interested in.  In one polished stainless piece, I see a circle that looks like a head on a group of supporting curves representing a body.  Another lower circle reminds me of a child.  With two blue circles included in the piece, I think “Madonna and Child”.  George has named it “Working Woman” but he says my title fits as well.  The thing that I love about George’s art is that you can see so many different things in it.  Like reading a favorite book, with each reading you focus on a different aspect.  With George’s pieces, you can interpret them in different ways depending on your own state of mind at each viewing.

We are drawn to a piece that George entered in the “Call for Public Art”  to be included in the redesign of Love Field.  It represents a flight map of the approach to Love field and has longitude and latitude lines as well as a blue body of water that is Bachman Lake.  George sometimes paints elements of his pieces or sometimes the color comes from what was originally  on the found object.  I ask George how he makes his selections when he goes to a scrap yard.  He says, “I’d like to take it all.”  He says when he and his wife go places, she has to drive so he can write down highway exit numbers if he sees a piece of scrap metal he would be interested in acquiring.  When he does acquire found objects, he likes to keep pieces together that were previously together and often incorporates them with their partners in a single sculpture.  He shows us a piece with many circular elements that look similar.  They all came from the same place.

This has been another fascinating visit and now it’s time to leave the Studio and head back down the road for lunch at Clark’s Outpost in Tioga.  Great barbeque, fried corn and chocolate cream pie stacked with a toping of 6 inches of meringue.  Great day – great art and great eating!

(Note:  Two of George’s sculptures can be seen in McKinney.  They are in the lobby at City Hall and across the street in the lobby of the Development Services building.  These pieces were made with McKinney’s own “found objects” from the demolition of the old Courthouse building.  George has also created 3 other sculptures made from the same materials.)

By Linda Spina, Chair, City of McKinney Arts Commission. 

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