Local sculptors’ whimsical iron crane greets Sheldon visitors

MIDDLEBURY — While still an orthopedic surgeon in Utica, N.Y., Dr. Warren Rinehart used a team of Belgian draft horses to work his farm. He soon tired of hiring a local blacksmith to shoe the horses, and took up blacksmithing and forging. His childhood had been spent on a farm in Kansas and Dr. Rinehart was comfortable tackling the multiple chores associated with animals and crops. Before retirement he settled in Vermont to join the Medical Center at the University of Vermont.
Rinehart’s utilitarian hobby soon became an artistic passion. He has created imaginative metal sculptures that adorn public and private collections. From his studio located on the grounds of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, he also teaches forging to eager students of all ages. His own creations range from the utilitarian — metal railings, lighting fixtures, key chairs, and gates to those reflecting his love of nature — waterfowl, birds, leaves, and flowers. His “Crane” in the Sheldon Museum’s garden can be found beneath the flowering crab apple tree waiting to greet visitors at the garden’s entrance.
Sculptures also on display in the garden are Marty McGowan’s “Big Fish” and John Matusz’s “Anyman.” Marty’s Big Fish is a hand-carved core of cedar covered with pieces of copper bath tubs, buckets, and old stainless steel water tanks. For stability, the stand is a table leg welded to a truck rim base filled with cement. McGowan’s sculptures offer not only the beauty of oxidizing steel in the natural elements but a cost-effective way of making a grand artistic statement. McGowan is celebrated for his inventive, sophisticated welding skills coupled with his humorous, ingenious, visionary imagination. Often working with found objects, in welded steel, stone, and wood, Mautsz’s “Anyman,” aka “The Head”, at the Sheldon’s garden entry, departs from that norm. “Anyman” is a large bust profile fashioned from Ferro cement with a bronze metallic finish, accentuating the subject’s profile and contemplative, ethereal demeanor.

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