By Sue Moore
Sculpture may be coming to a site in Vicksburg’s Farmers’ Market or one of the village’s parks. And residents will have a hand in its creation.
The project, Public Art in the Park, will begin as a demonstration during market hours, 2:30-6:30 p.m., on Friday, Aug. 21.
Brian Brook, a metal sculptor from Three Rivers, will donate his time and talent to build a piece of art that could eventually be placed there or in a park. But the process will begin even earlier. Brook is asking residents to donate pieces of metal that they would like to have included in the sculpture, especially if they have historical significance to the community.
The market managers will be collecting donations on Fridays leading up to the 21st.
Visitors to the market on that date are invited to watch him create with his drills, cutting discs, angle grinders, and oxygen acetylene torch to turn the pieces into art. He will not be welding on site. He will be using his brazing torch to fasten the pieces together.
Brook began working with metal art as a student of Holly Fisher’s at the Smart Shop in Kalamazoo some thirteen years ago. He likes the challenge of taking interesting shaped pieces of metal and work with them to make a public sculpture. The result is likely to be somewhat abstract, he said, as he won’t know what he is getting to work with until that day. The final result will depend on what is donated.
He grew up on a dairy farm in Bath where he learned a lot of skills–but not welding. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University in 1979 with a degree in recreation administration, never dreaming he would become an artist. He was hired by Starr Commonwealth in Albion as a weekend recreation provider, then as a house parent and finally as the supervisor of a boys’ cottage where he provided group therapy as well as interventions.
After leaving Starr, and traveling for the summer of 1981, he was recruited to be the recreation supervisor for Bendix Field Engineering Corporation (BFEC) in Saudi Arabia, where he worked for four years as recreation supervisor, human resources, providing orientation for new employees, and organizing travel services, medical care and mental health care for BFEC’s multi-national workforce. Upon leaving BFEC in 1985, he traveled the world for two and a half years, ending up circumnavigating the globe.
He was interested in doing counseling so he enrolled for his masters degree at Western Michigan University in 1990. He has been the supervisor of psycho-social rehabilitation services in Van Buren County since then. His second job is metal art with a studio at his farm near Corey Lake, west of Three Rivers. He and his wife Judi, who is a weaver, raise llamas. She uses their wool for her creations.
Cindy Krill has hosted his sculptures for sale at her annual November open house and sale at Prudential Nursery. Brook has also displayed at Kalamazoo Art Hops. Brook sells his work at seven or eight juried fine-art fairs throughout the summer and has pieces in public displays and corporate collections throughout the Midwest.
“I like the creative process. When I see something extra good, it gets me thinking how to incorporate it in a design. “I can get into a groove in creating a piece and time becomes a different dimension. This is the other side of my brain, and I will enjoy putting it to good use with a sculpture for the Vicksburg community,” Brook says.