Dispatch from James Calemine
“In a sea of steel
I see a golden glow
Screaming the message
Anyone could know
Cause the chrome do rust
And the rust do shine
Broken could be golden
In its very own time.”
That day, I performed two spoken word pieces with Mark Neill on guitar and Wilby Coleman played dulcimer. It was the first time we met.
Coleman practiced law in Valdosta for over 36 years. His impressive Snake Nation book–Irony: The Metal Sculpture of Wilby Coleman–stands in a class of its own. Irony serves as a guide to Coleman’s creation of 236 metal sculptures. The book also contains a DVD. Julius Ariail shot the principal photographs and Roberta George provided the book’s text.
Coleman’s sculptures appeared in the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Hyta’s Park in Valdosta. the Colquitt County Arts Center in Moultrie and TECH Corporation in Thomasville along with many other institutions.
The artist explained his sculpture inspiration in the Foreword of Irony: “Themes in my work are taken from science, mythology, religion (or lack of it), astronomy, old jokes, songs, common phrases, cartoons, history, literature, and just about everything.”
The objects–all built from scrap metal, junkyard castoffs and raw steel, rank Coleman as a formidable 20th century artist. Inimitable works highlighted in Irony such as The Preying Mantis, Out of Africa, Fiddling with Steel, The Elephants, Universal Eye, Fanfare, Medusa, Barnyard Rorschach and Zulu Uprising confirm Coleman’s rare talent. Blades of a Feather contends as my favorite work of his.
Coleman became legally blind in 2006 as a result of macular degeneration. He still resides in Valdosta and continues to play music. Seek out his work. Mahalo…