Statements in Scrap

By Beacon Staff

Stepping into Robert M. Seymour’s garage means more than just stepping over and around what he calls his “organized chaos.” It means stepping into the artist’s mind.

Seymour has always been an artist, having studied it in college, but recently he’s embraced a new medium, creating something he calls “pipescapes.” The durable pieces are stitched together with scrap metal, copper pipe and solder to create something that makes a statement to him, but also lets the viewer come up with their own interpretations.

“I know what he means to me,” he said looking at one of his recent pieces. “The whole concept is that you’re looking into another universe.”

Seymour was born to a family of artists in New York. His father did oil paintings and, according to Seymour, his brother Dan was involved with creating the now iconic “Charging Bull” on Wall Street in New York City. When he was younger, he studied fine art in New England and for a time lived overseas. In 1993 he moved to Montana.

Seymour and his brother first made art from scrap when they were kids in their grandfather’s massive barn. Seymour said they would find things, like an old radio, take it apart and create something new from it. Today, he creates similar work, most of which is done in his Kalispell garage. Seymour has gathered material everywhere from scrap yards to river bottoms to create metal sculptures that tell detailed and intimate stories. One of them, titled “Democracy and the Devil,” depicts Seymour’s views on the current political culture and within the art are details specifically chosen for the piece. Details such as the year of coins he used: 1929 for when the stock market crashed, and 1971 for when the gold standard was dissolved. Another piece, called “Bull Number 9,” is a “mythical male wearing his heart on his sleeve ready to take on the world.”

“I’m trying to create an ecosystem to where you can stare at one section and it’s viable, but it also works as a whole (piece),” he said.

A figure made out of pipes and metal pieces emerges from Robert M. Seymour’s piece “Gross Domestic Production.”

Seymour said creating the sculptures are an escape from everyday life, adding that his favorite moments are when he’s “in the zone” focusing on the art. In the last few years, he’s done six large sculptures, everything from a simple lizard to a chaotic tree. But, he adds, even if the pieces are mounted and titled, the work may not be done.

“I still look at pieces and think, ‘I’d like to take it apart and do it over,’ but at some point it has got to be done,” he said. “That’s the cool part is that it’s an evolution, a process, an adventure.”

On Wednesday, March 21, Seymour’s art will be on display at the Great Northern Brewing Co. in Whitefish. Marketing manager Jessica Lucey said Seymour’s art is easy to connect with and will be displayed in a perfect setting.

“I liked the industrial feel of his art and it will really complement the brewery’s architecture well,” she said.

Seymour, who has rarely shown his work, said he doesn’t do it for money, only himself. He said those who have seen it have different reactions; some people instantly understand his implied meaning and some come to a different conclusion.

“I’m always adding layers and you’ll never know what you’ll get,” he said. “For me, other than music, it’s a distraction, an escape. I can always come back here and find a sense of peace.”