The Riverfront Arts Center (RAC) will hold an opening and artist reception for its new exhibit, Time Transcending Iron, from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at the gallery at 1200 Crosby Avenue along the Wisconsin River in downtown Stevens Point.
The exhibit, which will run through Saturday, Oct. 28, is the first solo show of Boleslaw Kochanowski, a blacksmith and iron artist based in Junction City.
He can be reached at 715-457-2801 or through boleslawkochenowski.com. A portion of any commissions received during the show will be donated to the RAC.
The RAC is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Kochanowski recently took time to answer some questions from The Gazette. The questions and his responses follow:
Q: What is your background? How did you get interested in iron?
A: I was brought up in iron. My father was a blacksmith from Poland, a fully apprenticed blacksmith from Poland. He started his journeyman blacksmith’s training in his uncle’s shop in Poland, and then in World War II he was forced to work for the Germans and his skill… kept him. They liked his skill, of course. He came to Chicago with his family and worked in the Chicago Transit Authority as a blacksmith, and he was head blacksmith there. As a little boy, once in a while, he’d take some of us in the family there to the shops and I was pretty impressed with it, the smells and so forth.
Q: You were impressed with the smells?
A: The smells of iron, yeah. There’s interesting smells; they kind of build on you. I also became aware, and I’m talking pre-school, of the wrought iron in Chicago; it caught my attention. I liked a lot of green, a lot of the wrought iron was painted green, and I noticed that. That all worked on me. My dad worked in iron; I liked the decorative iron, I liked the wrought iron I saw… Bridges, parks; Humboldt Park, the rails around the park and so forth, storefront rails… I didn’t think I would follow in my father’s footsteps. I studied political science, thought I was going to go into government service and international relations. I had, you know, language ability and so forth and thought I’d work in government service, maybe involved with my languages, but as I finished school, that didn’t interest me… I’m physical and I like to move and I like to do things… Somewhere along the line my father said, his name is Boleslaw also, I’m the second, he said, ‘The apple doesn’t roll far from the tree.’ I discovered what that meant… Out of college he had property up here and he helped me build a shop with his money. We built a nice shop and that’s where I started my work, my business. He helped me start out in it (in 1979).