Santa Barbara residents may be familiar with the metal sculptures of local artist Brian Chessmar if they’ve ever been to Cottage Hospital, where his stainless steel “Yin & Yang” sculpture has decorated its boardroom terrace since 2009 and where his silicon bronze “Wu Wei” piece has stood in its central garden since 2011. The public will soon have a one-stop shop for admiring his work, as the sculpture artist is holding the grand opening of his new Chessmar Sculpture Studios gallery on August 31.
Mr. Chessmar told the News-Press he is greatly looking forward to his gallery’s grand opening, which is being held just one day before his 51st birthday. He first purchased the gallery’s location at 320 E Anapamu St., formerly a chiropractic office, eight years ago and has worked on it consistently since then.
According to a press release, Mr. Chessmar’s gallery will serve as a showroom and office, utilizing indoor and outdoor spaces to display his sculptures. It will also have models for commissions and finished works available for sale. However, it will not serve as a workspace for Mr. Chessmar to create his sculptures, as that would be too loud for the surrounding area.
“To make a sculpture, you gotta make a lot of noise,” he said.
Mr. Chessmar was influenced by art at a young age from his parents, his mother a potter and his father a painter. Between the ages of six and nine, he lived in Paris, France, where he was greatly influenced by the city’s architecture and the statues that stood around its streets. He honed his artistic skills at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from which he graduated in 2005. Though he has experience making sculptures from bronze, Mr. Chessmar’s favorite medium is stainless steel, which he prefers because of its longevity.
When asked what he likes about the material so much, he simply said, “It’s permanent.”
As one can see on his website chessmarsculpture.com, some of Mr. Chessmar’s works have human figures, but many are non-representational designs, or what the artist called “conceptual.” Despite working with such heavy material, he tries to “push the physical limits” of the metal and give his pieces a light, dreamlike, and whimsical look.
“I push for a graceful feeling, to make it look really soft and light,” he said.
While some people may not view the kind of outdoor sculptures he creates as fine art, Mr. Chessmar hopes the skill with which he produces his pieces will make viewers recognize them as such.
“I try to push my work into fine art due to the craftsmanship,” he said.
As for what feelings he intends to evoke in those who see his sculptures, Mr. Chessmar said he hopes viewers will not only find his pieces pleasing to the eye, but walk away with a “peaceful, spiritual feeling” as well. Ultimately, the positive public reception is what keeps him driven to create new sculptures.
“What keeps me engaged and drives me to continue creating my work is the positive responses I get from my patrons, friends, family and the public,” he said.
The grand opening for Chessmar Sculpture Studios’ gallery will take place between 3:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and feature a silent auction for “Dimensions 5,” one of his sculptures valued at approximately $6000. The opening bid will be at $1,500. The proceeds from the silent auction will be evenly split between his children’s school, Roosevelt Elementary, and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, where his wife works. Mr. Chessmar will speak to the attendees at 6 p.m., which will be followed by a question-and-answer period. There will be live music and hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served throughout the evening. Complimentary parking for the event will be provided at the neighboring First United Methodist Church located at 305 E Anapamu St.