September 30, 2016

Bellmaker of Dewyville

Art, Family & Alchemy

Bellmakers once served very important roles in both Eastern and Western culture. The job description conjures up visions of a lonely hermit Bellmaker Utahsmithing away at church bells, but I’ve come to learn that nothing could be further from the truth.

First, Doug Adams is robustly middle-aged. A steel worker for thirty years, his artist wife, Diane, inspired him to follow his passion and create metal sculpture. Diane saw a bell he made 25 years ago and encouraged him to have fun with his life and pursue bell making. If the success of his work is any indication, he is out of the steel mill for good.

Doug’s creations are at once modern, historical and powerfully spiritual. Stone and steel are Zen symbols that represent good fortune. “I certainly feel very fortunate since I’ve been working in stone and steel,” says Doug. One bell incorporates a piece of ancient quarry stone from the Salt Lake Temple foundation.

Diane, an artist since childhood, works with nature themes such as leaves, fish and rocks, frequently incorporating recycled glass and metal into her pieces. In a recent painting of an old car, she used glass to make real-looking headlights on the piece, which she then covers with a heavy varnish. Diane is a study in contradictions. She is a pretty petite blonde mom with an immaculate and well-appointed house that also wields a mean acetylene torch and fuses glass.

On first inspection of his work one might assume that Doug has a background in Eastern philosophy, however, Doug is an active member of the LDS church–and the tree and sun symbols he uses have personal religious significance for him. The term Zen, Doug adds, means “without scripture.”

Both Doug and his wife are nature-lovers committed to using recycled and found material in their work. In addition to being a “classic dumpster diver,” friends and strangers alike frequently drop off scrap metal or glass for them to use. Their collection of scrap metal alone could pass for a modern sculpture. The pile of rusted raw material in back of the house is impressive, with cart wheels, rods, and an antique car front destined to be for Doug and Diane’s new gallery sign.

Doug and Diane’s work has literally and figuratively fused together. It all started with a dream Diane had where she wanted to create a steel frame and incorporate real rocks into a painting. She approached Doug and said, “I’m going to have to learn how to weld now.” His metal work bell making is seen throughout her paintings and frames and her glasswork is fused into his bells. Their lives and art have seamlessly melded into alchemy of sorts, and they move towards the future feeling very fortunate indeed.

Visit www.dougadamssculpture.com for more information.