A new foundry, Domani Bronze Finishing Studio & Gallery, has opened south of Cortez, and its owner hopes to secure
bronze jobs that usually go to New Mexico and Arizona.
Owner Dimitry "Domani" Spiridon moved from Santa Fe to open his business to continue to finish the sculptures of
world-renowned artist Veryl Goodnight in addition to his own bronze creations. Spiridon first began working with
Goodnight as her assistant in Denver in 1985 before branching out on his own.
Spiridon said he and his wife, Nadine, have had the relocation planned ever since Goodnight moved near Mancos a
couple of years ago, but they were waiting for their house to sell.
"She can run, but she can't hide," Spiridon said jokingly about Goodnight.
Spiridon doesn't just transform clay sculptures into bronze statues for artists like Goodnight. He works on his own
creations as well. Two of his works are on permanent exhibition at the Romanian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Spiridon kicks off the bronze-casting process by creating a rubber mold, which he then pours or brushes melted wax
into, creating a replica of the statue.
"I take other people's sculptures and make molds from the originals," he said. "Whether clay or marble or whatever -
it doesn't matter what medium - eventually (artists) want to do it in bronze, so they bring it to me," he said.
"There are artists right now from Telluride, Pagosa Springs and Durango who ship their work out of state, so now they
can bring them here to Cortez," he said.
Spiridon has arranged to move into the neighboring part of the warehouse-turned-shop, which will give him the room to
add equipment to melt bronze at his facility. For now, he ships the piece - or pieces if it is large - to a
full-service foundry to have hot, liquid bronze poured into the mold.
Once the sculpture is shipped back to him, he "finishes" it by welding it back together, smoothing fine lines through
sand blasting or grinding tools, and applying patinas to add color.
"You make the model, I do all the work - the welding and the metal chasing and whatever color patina the artist
chooses," he said. "The only thing I don't do yet is the bronze casting itself."
Spiridon said the first foundry in the Four Corners will eventually create more than a dozen jobs.
"I've been working in the business for 22 years but moved it here, so I'm still getting organized but at the same
time doing some work," he said, pointing out a few life-sized bronzes.
Spiridon said he will soon provide foundry tours, which will also show off a gallery of his own work in bronze.
With parents of Italian and Greek descent, Spiridon also goes by "Domani," his mother's maiden name. While growing up
in Romania, Spiridon showed promise as early as high school when he was accepted into the highly competitive art
school of Timisoara.
Spiridon's father and older brother suffered 11 years of imprisonment under the communist Nicolae Ceausescu regime, so after completing the required two-year draft term in the Romanian Army, he risked his life to escape in 1978, walking 75 miles and swimming the Danube River before being caught by Yugoslavian police.
He was held captive as a political prisoner for a year, eventually seeking political asylum in the United States -
Spiridon was allowed to immigrate to the United States in 1981 after numerous interviews at the American Embassy in
"When I escaped Romania, I was a political refugee, so when I came to the states, I wanted to continue to work with
art," he said.
Spiridon immediately set to work at art foundries in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles before moving to Denver and
connecting with Goodnight.
In Santa Fe, in 1988, he established his own studio in addition to working on Goodnight's sculptures.
"When I moved to Santa Fe, I wasn't her employee anymore, so I opened my own business, Domani Bronze Finishing, and I
still do her work ever since. Now she has moved to Colorado, and I follow, too."