The Art of ConservationTuesday, February 10, 2009 By Jessica Holmes
There are posh lofts trendily bare except for a few pieces of furniture, not to be used, meant to make a statement and tiny apartments fashionably deteriorated and stuffed with mismatched furniture, all intended to set an atmosphere in which to create art. On the other hand, these art labs lack what all art depends on—originality. Television and movies would have one believe that artists can only be found in these stereotypical settings, but, in our small Southern community, modernity and urban decay are hard to come by. That does not by any stretch mean that art is nonexistent here. Amid the piles of scrap metal and tools, here is originality. Clanging and banging follows almost every step in Tim Pace’s workshop. There are no canvases, no easels, and no paint. There is, however, metal. Lots of it. Everywhere. In this studio, scrap metal serves as the medium, and flame is the paintbrush. Tim Pace’s eco-art technique may not be taught in art schools, but he has it down to a science, making cats from old pipes and turtles from hubcaps. “I hate to see things just get thrown out,” says the artist, and in his mind, anything can be made into something. Tim Pace swapped the easy-going, balmy California scene for the flighty weather and Southern hospitality of Tennessee in 1990, not intending to start a new career. He was an electrician by trade and had no formal art training. Inspiration came one day from one of life’s most frustrating problems—gift-giving. “It started as a humorous gift for my step dad, who is a golfer,” says Pace. From a pile of scrap, the rusty figure of a golfer emerged. Two years after the move, the Pace family built a garage for the car, but the car did not stay there long. The sculptures kept piling up, and soon Pace turned his hobby into a career. His inspiration can come from just about anything. “I look at something, and say to myself that could be a dozen different things,” says the artist. Once, as he was driving, his young daughter pointed out a stray piece of twisted metal and figured it would be perfect for the body of a bee. Coming up with the actual ideas for his sculptures takes anywhere from a day to a week, the layout takes from 10-15 minutes, and the actual welding takes from 5-7 minutes. Though he received no formal art training, Pace’s sculptures have gained the praise of many. “You can work at McDonald’s, work in a factory, or be the president of a bank,” he says, “but there’s no guarantee that those things will be permanent and no guarantee those things will make you happy. If you find something that you love and have a knack for, get out and do it.” Pace began selling his sculptures in galleries and art shows and began taking his works to art shows in 1998. Today, his workshop is as full as ever. One of his grasshopper sculptures can be seen at the Jackson Public Library, and he is currently creating a copper piece for the Tennessee’s Governor’s Mansion made from the copper gutters taken off the mansion. His work can be seen here in McNairy County, along with the works of many other artists, on the AiM Artisan Trail March 21, 2009, from 10 am to 5 pm.