04 Jun Artist Spotlight: James Brenner
Sculptor James Brenner began using weathering steel more than 20 years ago and has been a valued customer of Central Steel Service since then. Brenner primarily uses steel and glass in his sculptures. He came to appreciate the structure, durability and low-maintenance qualities that weathering steel offers.
“The steel part of the sculpture provides the structure to house some of the glass, and they work together with natural light,” Brenner explained. “I try to build something that will last for at least 50 years, so the weathering steel is perfect.”
The warm color and patina of weathering steel also appeals to Brenner.
“I love the idea of the steel having what I call a ‘living finish’ in that it changes from the light orange, to the darker red, to the brown to the deep brown when it has matured,” Brenner commented. “To me, it’s a very organic color. The warmth of the color and the protection that it gives is well-suited for my aesthetic. I like to really show off the qualities of the glass and the steel in its natural state.”
Prior to installation, Brenner advances the patina process in order to not only mitigate the run-off on surrounding surfaces but also so that the warm color of the patina is visible upon installation.
Integral to their surrounding physical and social environments, Brenner’s sculptures serve as platforms for social dialogue. They encourage the viewer not only to observe, but also to engage to become a viewer/participant either in the process of the making or the way the sculpture is experienced.
Speaking of the process, Brenner’s passion for sculpture and fabrication lies in overcoming the ever-changing fabrication challenges. “It’s never the same,” Brenner said. “You’re always thinking about how do I build this, how can I make it correct, strong, durable and aesthetically pleasing.”
To date, Brenner’s favorite project is “Convergence,” which is located in the center of a roundabout in Bloomington, Minnesota. Check out the video below to learn more about the making of Convergence.
We look forward to seeing more weathering steel sculptures from James Brenner! Thank you for being a loyal customer of Central Steel Service.
About James Brenner
James Brenner received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In the 20 years of his professional career as a sculptor, Brenner has served as a core artist for the Chicago Public Art Group, the director of Chicago Sculpture Works, and the director of the annual “Paradise Pour” iron pour and artist residency in Columbus, IN. Brenner’s work ranges from large-scale, interactive steel sculptures, to collaborative, public art projects, to synergistic iron casting events.
Brenner has participated as a visiting artist on over 20 occasions nationwide, completed over 30 public and corporate arts commissions, and his work has joined numerous public and private collections across the country and abroad.