Sylvan Lake artist shows off work in yard

Sylvan Lake artist Shane Seib was just a toddler when he started working on his first welding project.

Artist Shane Seib crafts sculptures out of metal

Artist Shane Seib crafts sculptures out of metal

Sylvan Lake artist Shane Seib was just a toddler when he started working on his first welding project.

His mother walked into the garage and found him in his diaper, wearing a welding mask and welding a toolbox together.

By age eight he had welded a miniature oil derrick that could pump mud that now sits in a corner of his yard. Soon after, he was using his talent for more artistic pursuits.

Now at his home near Sylvan Lake, his yard offers a garden of sculptures, many three metres or more high, made up of a variety of abstract shapes.

Steel circles and swirls entwine, moon shapes and spheres dance together in his artwork, with his sculptures seeming to erupt in vibrant movement.

Looking at his pieces is a bit like seeing a Salvador Dali or Wassily Kandinsky painting come to life in 3-D form.

He recently showed some of his smaller pieces at the Calgary Stampede’s Metal Art Showcase.

But Seib isn’t the kind of artist who wears a black turtleneck, nibbles foie gras and spouts about the postmodern condition.

He looks more like the kind of guy you would have a beer with on the back patio, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, tattoos covering much of his right arm.

Seib, 39, created his favourite piece and his first large work in 2001.

Called Moonstruck, it has a silver moon-like shape, with a sphere.

Another favourite in his yard, Seib calls the Wreckers and it looks like two Terminator robots with their skin stripped from their bodies.

The sculpture is made mostly from Ford and John Deere parts and consists of two robot forms and a dragon-like dog. The dog’s body consists of a nitrous oxide bottle from a dragster, with the robots’ heads made from a 1932 Ford Coupe lights and chins made out of fanbelt pulleys. Like most of Seib’s work, the Wreckers and nearly all of the other sculptures are made from recycled parts — around 90 per cent of his materials are reused.

Seib looks at metal in a very different way from the average person. Where others would see the hood of a truck, he sees a canvas. Where someone else sees a crankshaft, he sees the start of a sculpture. He works in copper, steel, stainless steel and aluminum, using his MIG welder like a painter would use a brush.

“I’ll get in a zone,” Seib said. “I don’t have a set meaning. Half the time I don’t know what it will turn out like . . . I’ve never been one who thinks every piece needs a story or a name.”

People often drop off parts and pieces of metal to him, which collects in buckets. He’ll dump the buckets of parts on the floor, gaining inspiration and finding a piece to start a project, sometimes not knowing where it will end. Nothing goes to waste, with even punchouts of metal being reused.

Seib occasionally draws out his sculptures ahead of time, but many of his ideas float around in his brain, never making it to paper before he starts welding and shaping parts together. “I sculpt 20 hours a day in my head,” he said.

When he isn’t working on one of his art projects, he welds unique decorative furniture and accessories out of metal with his father Allan, through their business First Impressions Metal Works, near Sylvan Lake.

Seib’s artistic vision hasn’t just touched his yard, but the home he and his wife Jen built together has flourishes throughout that showcase his artwork. He has made stylized beds as a present to his wife and his daughter Callie, who has a loft metal frame, and son Max, who has a spider that sits above a spiderweb bed.

Even former pieces of equipment don’t go to waste, with one sculpture in his entertainment room being made out of a collection of old saw blades from when Seib and his wife built their home.

“A lot of my art isn’t safe. It isn’t supposed to be safe,” said Seib. “I don’t like boring and I don’t like beige.”

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com