Newspaper Archive of
Indian Valley Record
Greenville, California
January 11, 2012     Indian Valley Record
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January 11, 2012

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II _: - -- !'.11 I JmuiiiRBiJJl .llllmRIImln Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 1B Alicia Knadler Indian Valley Editor Kest Porter dons a thick apron, a soft cap, welding helmet and gauntlets before sending arcs and sparks flying over his current project, a fawn that looks as if it's about to latch on for a warm drink. Blue flashes light up the shiny steel face. It's obviously cold metal, yet there seems to be the warmth of life there in the eyes, the tilt of the head and cant of the ears. With haunches still in the tacked-on stage of the welding process, the fawn already expresses the pose and attitude Porter hopes people will see. He strives to create an intriguing glimpse into the wild kingdom, one that inspires people with enjoyment and wonder about what thatanimal might be thinking. Porter grew up in a family full of such wonder, and they'd marvel at sights of . wildlife on hiking trips at Point Reyes and in the Sierra. He and his wife, Susen, continued that tradition with their daughters, especially after moving to northeastern California for their careers in education. A sculptor ever since he can remem- ber, Porter's college classes powered his imagination with skills and knowledge. He honed his vision and learned new ways to draw, paint and sculpt with field biology, art, welding and industrial technology classes. Some of his metal sculptures are done with welders in steel or aluminum, and others are cast in bronze with the lost wax method, which he learned after moving to Greenville in the 1980s. He begins each project with a photo- graph or a picture of an animal in a pose he finds intriguing. He opens the anatomy and reference books to determine how the animal would look from all directions. He might form his desired animal from clay first, or maybe he will draw it until he solves any troubling perspective or shape isst es. Then it's time to cut, shape, weld, grind and repeat until the cold metal takes on the warm lifelike quality he's after. If a little spiky fur-like texture is needed, he uses the welder to splatter hot metal on in directional sweeps. The finishing touches include polishing the bare metal, or adding patinas for a warmer effect. Now that he is retired from a career in education, Porter has become a dedicated artisan. Several completed animals are on display at Sterling Sage in Greenville, including large and small mountain lions, a bear cub and a sleepy red fox. They join the works of several other local artisans, which include jewelry, photography, textiles, burl woodcarvings, caustic wax, collage, greeting cards and other visual arts. The shop is located across from the Masonic Hall on Main Street in Green- ville and is open every day: from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The pose and attitude of his subjects in their natural state intrigue Kest Porter so much, he recreates them to share with others. This view makes one wonder just who this cub with bronze coated steel claws was looking at and what it was thinking at the time. The fur's dimension comes from a splatter effect applied during MIG welding. A sleepy, bronze covered red fox, to p left of page, curls up on a stool at Sterling Sage in Greenville, where several of Kest Porter's metal sculptures join the works of other local artisans. Drinking from a stream at top right, a thirsty cat is distracted by a sound, a nearby movement in the forest. Metal sculptor Kest~ter~c~locts photos o~ wildJjfe like. this from books, magazines and other places. He studies the poses that intrigue him, the anatomy, and then the work begins. Greenville artisan Kest Porter uses a metal inert gas (MIG) welder to make a seam on the haunch he tack-welded in the design and fitting stage of his sculpture process. Photos by Alicia Knadler I one of his early works, this 28'year'old owl takes flight over Kest Porter's shop while he works. One of his larger works, this mountain lion reclines in a restful yet watchful position, as if with a full belly, she's too lazy to bestir herself and pounce on the nearby prey. She's MIG welded steel with a combination of Japanese brown and tan patinas with black wax and bronzed eyes added for effect. A viewer of this lion in real life might not like to be on the other end of such a pounce-ready leonine gaze, especially when there's no help nearby. These cats are cast in bronze using the lost wax method.