By Sue Moore
Three years ago, Brian Brook, a celebrated Three Rivers metal sculptor and good friend of Don and Maureen Wiertella of Vicksburg, offered to create a work of art for placement in the village of Vicksburg as part of his giving back to the community.
He put out a call for materials for the work at the time, and came to the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market to examine and work on the pieces of metal dropped off for his work.
The result was unveiled June 14 in an event sponsored by the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center with village council members and art aficionados in attendance. Brook described the piece he created for the village in his comments to the group. The saw blade as the sculpture base is symbolic of the saw mill which cut a place out of the wilderness upon which Vicksburg is built. The large gear is from the Simpson Paper Mill, as are some other odds and ends. The plowshare and cultivator head are symbolic of the history of farming in the area. The flowers are meant to evoke a sense of growth from the pioneer base, farming and industry, to whatever may be envisioned in the future. Some smaller round pieces came from an old Linotype type-setting machine in the office of the village’s hometown newspaper, the Commercial-Express.
Where to locate the sculpture is now in the hands of the village’s parks and recreation committee. Its members are charged with making a recommendation to the Village Council to accept the sculpture and find a suitable location. The committee, headed by village Trustee James Earl, debated placement in Oswalt Park and settled on a former fountain area that is currently a raised flower bed. In the meantime, the sculpture will be on exhibit at the VCAC.
Brook and the market managers in August 2015 sent out a request for historical pieces of metal that Brook could weld together and would in some way represent the community’s heritage. In the interim, Brook had serious health problems and had to quit his day job. He was doing counseling and had been the supervisor of psycho-social rehabilitation services in Van Buren County. His second job is creating 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.
Brook began working with metal art as a student of Holly Fisher’s at the Smart Shop in Kalamazoo about 16 years ago. He likes the challenge of taking interesting pieces of metal and working with them to make a public sculpture. The result is likely to be somewhat abstract, he said then, as he won’t know what he is getting to work with until that day. The final result will depend on what is donated.
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 have enjoyed putting it to good use with a sculpture for the Vicksburg community,” Brook said.