Working with your life partner is known to be both exciting and challenging. Cardiff metal sculptors Sheri Fox and Jon Rawlinson are making it work.Their partnership began soon after meeting at the Encinitas 101 Artist Colony in 2001. According to Sheri, she thought Jon was cute and would make an excellent apprentice in her shop. After only a few weeks of indentured servitude, Jon discovered a passion not only for Sheri, but also for welding and working with steel. Thus began their collaboration.
Sheri, who purchased Trios Gallery in Solana Beach after showing her own work there for seven years, says, “My experience selling in galleries taught me a lot about how to treat artists so they’d feel supported, which helped us attract a lot of incredible artists.”
With the work of up to 200 artists in the gallery at any given time, she says, “It was a huge, never-ending challenge to keep the place full of art in all price ranges that technically didn’t work together, but somehow looked beautiful in one space.”
During the decade of promoting other artists as managing owner of Trios, running the business didn’t leave Sheri much time for creating artwork. Since closing the gallery in October 2011 she has resumed creating a new collection of whimsical animal sculptures made from scrap steel.
Jon, who has been producing and exhibiting his up-cycled steel furniture and sculpture in galleries since 2003, says, “I started making furniture to use to display some of the artwork at Trios. Sheri basically put aside her work while running the gallery, whereas my work thrived.”
The artwork of both artists is influenced by the surface discoloration, dents, scratches and shapes of the salvaged materials they collect.
Jon, a self-taught artist, says, “I have always found it more freeing, creatively, to work with surplus materials. Somehow there’s a lot less pressure when I’m working with stuff that would otherwise just be discarded.”
Jon, who earned a degree in physical science, continues, “Designing and building furniture stimulated both the artist and the engineer in me. It was the perfect balance between my practical nature and my creative soul.”
Having spent over a year living and working in Spain in the late ‘90s, Jon developed a distinctive style, which reveals influence of Spanish masters such as Salvadore Dali and Antoni Gaudi.
Flowing, organic lines and asymmetrical shapes are featured prominently in Jon’s work. His beautifully designed tables can be seen at Ballast Point Gallery in Point Loma and First Street Gallery in Encinitas; while his colorful steel flowers are currently featured in the San Diego Botanic Garden’s “Sculpture in the Garden” exhibit.
Sheri earned her BFA degree from University of Arizona but didn’t start making her playful animals until taking classes at UCSD Craft Center.
Each animal is pieced together from scraps of steel and infused by Sheri with individual character and personality. “I like to think each one is already living somewhere inside of me and waiting for a chance to come out and make people smile.”
Rancho Santa Fe residents Peg and Peri Urvek were regular visitors to Trios where they discovered and collected works by local artists, including Sheri’s.
“Her animals go beyond ‘cute,’ although they definitely are cute, and attain actual personalities,” say the Urveks, adding that, “Sheri recently completed a family of gryphons for us…full form, three-dimensional animals who look both terrifying and adorable at the same time.”
Sheri’s critters can be seen at Pacific Gallery in Laguna Beach, Calif. as well as in a show of the Carmel Valley Artists at Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens in Sorrento Mesa Dec. 8.
Living and working together is not without its challenges, but ultimately the couple agrees the pros far outweigh any cons.
Their secret, they say, is to not take themselves too seriously in or out of the shop.
Sheri says of their collaborative lifestyle, “It’s so cool to be able to work on individual projects, bounce ideas off one another while we’re working, and then stop and have a few laughs together over lunch.”
More about the artists and their work can be seen at: scraphoundstudio.com and jonraw.com.