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THURSDAY, AUGUST 23, 2007
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An iron pour at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham. Alabama Art Casting will be casting iron similar to this in Decatur this weekend at Carnegie Visual Arts Center.
Courtesy photo/Sloss Furnaces
An iron pour at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham. Alabama Art Casting will be casting iron similar to this in Decatur this weekend at Carnegie Visual Arts Center.

Pouring It On
There's heat
behind this art

Cast-iron pour, sidewalk art sale at Carnegie center

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

With a cast iron pour scheduled, plus a sidewalk art sale, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center is the place to be Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Also, the annual Brooke Hill Run for Awareness will take off from the Carnegie, 207 Church St. N.E., on Saturday.

This is the fourth year for the artists’ sidewalk sale, with more than 30 expected to participate, including painters, potters, wire sculptor, jewelry maker, calligrapher and purse designer. One will demonstrate throwing pots on a wheel.

However, this will be the first time an on-site iron pour has been scheduled, said Carnegie Executive Director Laura Phillips.

Johnny P. Williams and his company, Alabama Art Casting of Eutaw, will bring a crew of eight for the iron pour outside the arts center.

The nonprofit organization is featured regularly at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park and has done demonstration pours for schools and groups across the Southeast, Phillips said.

A miniature coke-fired furnace will heat the metal while Williams explains the process. Those wanting to participate can purchase open molds for $20 and carve a design of their choice backward into the packed sand mold, she said.

When the iron reaches the required temperature, around noon, all the forms will be filled with molten steel and cooled to become three-dimensional works of art.

“Iron pouring is labor intensive and hot work, so the crew works in two shifts of four trained people,” said Phillips, who saw a pour at the Kentuck Festival in Northport. “It’s an exciting thing to watch.”

Setup will begin Friday afternoon, with breakdown Sunday. Nucor Steel is sponsoring this iron pour.

“The Carnegie has been focusing on three-dimensional art all summer,” said Phillips. “This pour will continue the study that began with our ‘Of Stone and Ore’ exhibit by sculptor Dennis Brickell of Eva and continued with creations by our summer art campers.”

The annual sidewalk art sale at Carnegie will be Saturday.
Daily file photo
The annual sidewalk art sale at Carnegie will be Saturday.
Brickell will be one of those assisting Williams with the pour.

“(Brickell) hooked this up and invited us to Decatur,” said Williams, who worked with Brickell eight to 10 years ago.

“We hope those who come not only appreciate the technical aspects, but also make at least a small artwork,” Williams said. “And it does play into the history of the Tennessee Valley region and the iron industry’s impact on Alabama.”

During the demonstration and sidewalk art sale, the newly reorganized Decatur Arts Council will sell refreshments. Bob Wians will provide music, and people will get a preview of fall events and classes at the Carnegie.

“We’ve also arranged for a cool mist tent so people can come and cool off,” Phillips said.

“It’s going to be stupidly hot,” Williams said, so they’ll try to fill the molds by 2 p.m. After a cool-down period, those who made molds can come back and reclaim pieces or pick them up at the end of the event.

To accommodate the activities, Oak Street will be closed between Church and Lafayette streets.

The Carnegie will again be a sponsor of the Brooke Hill Run for Awareness through Old Decatur.

“This is in memory of one of our founding directors who died in 2004, and we wanted the annual run to coincide with a Carnegie event,” Phillips said.

Registration will begin outside the arts center at 7 a.m. The 5K run will start at 8, and the 1K at 9. The fee will be $15 on race day, with proceeds benefiting ovarian cancer education activities.

Also on Saturday, merchants on Bank Street and Second Avenue are planning special sales, while some Old Decatur residents will hold attic sales to benefit neighborhood projects.

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