Terry Welker is both a successful architect and a successful sculptor specializing in kinetic art. His work is shown in galleries from Mexico to New Mexico and in exhibitions around the Midwest. About a year ago, Terry and his friend abstract artist Ron Rollins moved into a new studio in a formerly vacant storefront.
I have visited the studio three times in the last year, twice to watch Terry work and once to attend an art exhibition in Terry’s studio for two other artists.
Terry’s studio is in a highly visible location, with a steady flow of car traffic and foot traffic passing by. Although this is a working studio, it is filled with art and is easily mistaken for a gallery. The sign on the front door encourages visitors, and Terry seems to enjoy talking with people as he works.
Entering, a visitor to Terry’s studio often smells incense and always hears loud music. Terry and Ron have stocked the studio with all types of CD’s.
When I arrived Terry was starting to work on a small mobile for a local gallery. Terry said it was part of a series. Each one of the dozen pieces in the series is similar to the others but with some variation in shape or color or even materials. This small scale “experimentation” eventually leads to a design that will be used in one of his large scale installations.
I asked Terry how this new studio was different from his previous workspace.
“For years I worked in the basement of my home. This height of this studio is a big plus, and I have installed tables that I can stand on”.
“But the most important improvement with this new studio is the light. To me the most critical part of designing a mobile is color selection. When I worked in my basement I was constantly taking pieces outside to check color. Now I have the light I need right here in the studio.”
I asked Terry how he happened to get a gallery to sell his work in Mexico.
“I was vacationing in Nueva Vallarta and met some people active in the local art scene. They encouraged me to make some art while I was there, so I gathered some of the local materials and went to work. The next times I visited I brought supplies and started making larger work. Everything I have sold in Mexico has been made in Mexico”.
As Terry used his press brake, I mentioned that his studio has the most colorful waste basket I had ever seen. Terry said that every once in a while he notices an interesting shape among his discards. A few times he has used these bits and pieces as inspiration for new designs.
Terry works in one end of the studio and Ron Rollins uses the other. In between is a sitting area where they can take a break or a visitor can relax and watch them work. I asked Terry about sharing space with another artist.
“It works great. I get the ceilings and Ron gets the walls. Seriously, Ron is a good friend and I have enjoyed watching his art career grow. We don’t always work at the same time, but when we do I like the company”.
My photo session ended just as Terry finished the small mobile he was starting when I first arrived.