The art scene in our little corner of Colorado soon may come out of the past and into the Bronze Age. That is, if Dimitry Domani gets his way.
Domani, a Romanian born sculptor and painter, has begun the process of opening a foundry in Cortez, the only one in the area. Bronze sculptors no longer will need to ship their work to other states to be cast.
You just give me the piece, says Domani in a thick eastern European accent, Ill take care of the rest.
Domani recently moved his studio to Cortez from Santa Fe talk about culture shock. Why would a successful artist uproot from one of the most thriving art scenes in the Southwest to start over in a quiet town known more for Indian ruins and rodeos than painting and sculpture?
I wanted to move here because there are no foundries here, says Domani.
I decided it would be a good place to start.
Domani said there are many artists from Telluride to Farmington who would benefit from the presence of a foundry in Cortez.
Veryl Goodnight, a Mancos-based sculptor of Western art, is one of them. Domani and Goodnight have been working together since 1985. Three years ago, when she decided to move to Mancos, she gave Domani all the tools and supplies that he would need to open his own studio.
She gave me all the equipment she had, remembers Domani. It was a good start for me.
Domani actually got his first start at a prestigious art school in Timisoara, Romania. At the time, Romania was an oppressive communist dictatorship.
I wanted to get out of there, he says in the detached manner of someone who has reconciled with some distant trauma. I finished school, then I escaped.
After his mandatory draft service in the army, he escaped with several friends, walking 75 frightening miles through the country as fugitives. Eventually they were caught and imprisoned in what then was Yugoslavia. After a year in prison, he was released, only to spend two years in a refugee camp in Austria.
Long story short after all that, all he wanted was to come to America. That, and to be a sculptor. In 1981, three years after escaping his home country, he got his wish. His visa was granted, he immigrated to the States and began the long journey toward becoming a successful artist.
Domani plans to have a full-service foundry open within the next year.
The full service is as encompassing as it sounds. The artist forms the sculpture in clay and then brings that work to Domanis shop. He takes it from there, making a mold of the original and then filling the cast with wax, a process called lost wax casting. He builds a ceramic shell around that casting, after which the wax is melted out. Molten metal then is poured into the void and, voila!, a bronze sculpture is born.
But the work isnt over yet, as there is much sanding, welding, and polishing to be done ere the finished product is ready for pickup.
The only thing he doesnt do at the moment is pour the metal into the mold. He still has to ship that to another foundry, but he is hard at work to remedy the situation.
Domani hasnt advertised, but the word is out. A full-service foundry close by with an experienced sculptor behind the wheel is a boon for local artists.
In Santa Fe, everybody knew who I was, and I worked by word of mouth, said Domani. Its the same here, you know?
Anna Riling is a geologist and writer. Reach her through www.AnnaRiling.com.