Roger Finch didn’t start out as an artist but as an aircraft mechanic.
“I’ve always loved machines,” said Finch, 77, who has been teaching a unique class through the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art for nearly 18 years. Registration is under way for the next session of his M.I.G. Welding and Torch Brazing class, which begins Jan. 13.
Finch, whose metal sculptures can be found on the campus of Augusta University, on the north concourse of Georgia Southern University’s Paulson Stadium, the Albany Museum of Art and at Augusta’s Sutherland Mill among other places, discovered sculpture while teaching industrial arts in Maryland from 1972 to 1975 after several years of being a mechanic and mechanical designer.
“I had no inkling of art,” he said.
Industrial arts has traditionally focused on developing the skills needed to use machines or tools.
When an art teacher asked for his help welding some steel together for a project, Finch found a new passion.
He taught the art teacher how to weld, and the art teacher taught him about sculpture. He’s been creating ever since.
That first sculpture moved with him from Maryland to his Hephzibah property, where he opened Mirabella-Finch Studio in 1979.
He received his bachelor of fine arts from Augusta College in 1987 and got his master of fine arts from Georgia Southern University in 1993. He taught art history at Augusta University from 1994 to 1997.
Finch’s 7,000-square-foot workshop doesn’t look like a typical artist’s studio because it’s not.
“It’s a full-blown machine shop,” he said.
It’s filled with lathes, polishers, welding canisters and equipment that’s at the heart of his work. There are bins and racks with pipes, screws, metal of various kinds and glass that are the basis for his sculptures.
Finch said the inspiration for his sculptures come in a variety of ways.
For the two sculptures at Sutherland Mill, he used some equipment that had been abandoned in the building.
One of the pieces is the 30-foot-tall Fly Ball Governor, which is made from cast iron, steel, stainless steel concrete. And Honest Weight is one inspired by the scales used to weigh the cotton. The piece is a working scale, sort of.
Finch said he added what he calls a happy element to it. It’s calibrated 10 pounds lighter so anyone stepping on it can feel better about having lost that extra 10 pounds.
And Finch said he never stops learning and exploring. He’s always putting his techniques to new focuses.
To learn more about Finch’s class and other winter offerings at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, visit ghia.org.
AUGUSTA IS LOSING a gallery and a friend as John Brejda moves to Helen, Ga. Brejda has owned and operated That Place Coffee on the corner of Pleasant Home and Washington roads for two years. The coffee shop, where Brejda baked all kinds of delicacies, closed its doors on Dec. 8 and there was a final reception at the shop on Dec. 15.
Brejda opened a restaurant in Helen in August and will be relocating there in January.
That Place Coffee paired with 4P Studios across the parking lot for monthly art exhibitions.
Best wishes to you, John, on your new adventure.
THE GARDEN CITY CHORUS will be funding $500 music scholarships at eight area high schools in 2018. One choral student from each of the following schools will receive the award to be used for college education – Evans, Lakeside, Greenbrier, Aiken, North Augusta and Cross Creek High Schools, the Academy of Richmond County and John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School.
The Garden City Chorus has performed in the area for 54 years with priorities of celebrating the barbershop harmony style and serving audiences through musical entertainment. New singers are welcome when the chorus meets from 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays at North Augusta Church of Christ. For more details, see gardencitychorus.com, find them on Facebook or call Steve Wilder at (803) 599-4228.
THE GREATER AUGUSTA ARTS COUNCIL is planning for its annual Wet Paint Party in February. The early deadline is Jan. 10.
Those submitting by the early deadline will have the opportunity of the possibility of having their artwork contained in promotional materials. The Wet Paint Party will be Feb. 24. For more details, go to augustaarts.com.