The woods and fields outside Jay Sawyer’s barn-sized Studio JBONE in Warren, Maine are a sculpture garden of metal works, from spheres on the ground and in the air to a navigation-buoy-sized F-bomb.
Sawyer (class of 1983) has created public art installations, including A Spirit of Its Own, a spherical piece made with shear rings welded together at the Portland International Jetport, and another along the Rockland Harbor Trail, made with railroad spikes welded in a sphere. He also has sculptures at homes and estates across New England.
His career evolved from early years working at sea as an engineer to coming ashore and starting a welding fabrication business, which he operated for 18 years.
The welding business increasingly led to projects that were on the creative edge, he says. “Fate had me cross paths with three individuals who all had degrees in sculpture. Each one took note of my raw talents and spoke of the gift I had. I was like a sponge for what they had to offer.”
From his Maine Maritime Academy experience, he learned to “look at a situation with the big picture in mind,” he says. “Turns out life is a bit like a steam plant. Decisions in one area have consequences in another. Procedure is important. With my current projects, I call it ‘opening doors in the right order.’”
Among these projects, he is most passionate about a proposed installation also along the Rockland Harbor Trail, El Faro Salute!, a memorial to the 33 crew aboard the ship lost at sea in 2015, which included five MMA graduates.
Sawyer has begun creating sculptures representing two mariners saluting the harbor lighthouse and the sea beyond, which draws inspiration from a previous work called The Maestro.
He welcomes support from other MMA alumni for the project. (Learn more: elfarosalute.com.) The memorial is sponsored by the Penobscot Marine Museum.
Sawyer believes the memorial could act as the final stage of grieving for the community and he is motivated by “the ability to establish the wherewithal to promote hope and compassion in these uncertain times.”█
—By Billy Sims
Photos: Billy R. Sims & JBONE