((L-R) Anton and Goph working on a collabrative piece of sculpture for the show, Claire forging hot steel with an Air-hammer and Breezy Anderson grinding with 8”grinder on one of her steel sculpture | Photos courtesy of COMAG)
COMAG Hosts Eighth Annual Show & Sale
The Central Oregon Metal Arts Guild, or COMAG, is excitedly hosting their eighth annual show and sale from August 27-29, in the beautiful ballroom of the downtown Oxford Hotel. For three days at the end of the month, COMAG will be presenting the work of 24 artists, all of which are guild members, whose work includes unique, innovative and collaborative touches. Every art installation will be available for purchase.
In its eighth year, the COMAG show and sale is led by Goph Albitz, a seasoned artist with 55 years of experience as a jeweler and sculptor. First brought on as the show designer eight years ago, Goph now holds the title of show director, as well as designer.
Of the 24 artists, this year’s show will include work from jewelers, sculptors, metal fabricators, glass artists, welders and more. Some pieces will be collaborative, meaning that a single art installation will include the work from two or more unique mediums. A jeweler and a welder might work together and influence one another’s style, or maybe a glass blower and sculptor will put their heads together and create something truly innovative.
This spirit of innovation through collaboration runs deep with COMAG, so much so that it is even mentioned in the guild’s mission statement, which states that the guild is, “Dedicated to the promotion, education and collaboration of the metal arts and crafts.” Goph stated that the guild has monthly meetings, which are always held in a guild member’s workspace. In these meetings, the hosting member will share some work or a technique with the rest of the guild members. These demonstrations help artists of all mediums learn new techniques and to continue thinking outside the box. According to Goph, “a welder’s demonstration might teach a sculptor something new about how to create their structure, while a jewelers demonstration might show the welder a new technique, just on a smaller scale.”
These meetings are paramount to the guild when it comes to fulfilling the mission statement, but their efforts to support one another do not stop there. COMAG has set up the Peter Small Scholarship, in honor of Peter Smalls, a sculptor from Sisters who died a few years ago. The scholarship grants funds for a young artist’s classes and seminars within the guild, which increases overall accessibility to the guild’s classes, seminars and metal arts as a whole.
Even the founding of the guild back in 1999 was due to a need for collaboration. A handful of jewelers got together to discuss their work and share techniques, and it wasn’t long until Joe Elltiot, owner of Dry Canyon Forge and experienced blacksmith, was invited to come share his work. After that, the members decided to make the guild inclusive to all metal arts, and COMAG was founded.
The guild would spend over a decade doing small-scale shows around town where each artist could only showcase one or two pieces. Around 2010, these shows began to dwindle out. In 2014, the then-and-current president of the guild, Kellen Bateham, contacted the Oxford Hotel to see if they could hold a much larger show, and the Oxford accepted. The 2014 show, which allowed each artist to have a booth full of work, was a success, and each year has only gotten larger, with 2021 being the largest and most successful show to date.
This year’s show has been designed with the word “garden” in mind. Goph says that the jewelers and other small-scale pieces will be in a ring on the outside, while larger pieces like sculptures and statues will be artfully arranged in the inner section. Complemented by ample amounts of plants and greenery provided by the Oxford Hotel, the inner section full of sculptures and statues will resemble a lush garden that guests can stroll through.
Guests are encouraged to sign up for the raffle, which will grant one lucky person each day a $100 gift certificate to the artist of their choice. This is the perfect opportunity to purchase a large statement-piece for any room, as well as smaller, handmade pieces of jewelry for any birthday, anniversary or special occasion coming up. Prospective metal artists are encouraged to come, make connections with guild members and learn new techniques from the artists at each booth.
The COMAG show and sale will take place August 27, 12-8pm, August 28, 10am-7pm and August 29, 11am-3pm. For more event and guild info, visit comag.us.