A New Fire Burns
Introducing the Shane Urquhart Metals and Glass Studio at TACS
You may not have heard of him, but Shane Urquhart changed our world. His might be an ordinary story but for the fire in it.
Gerry Drew and Walt Myers watched the young man as he approached the TACS Forge for the first time, commenting to each other. “Here comes a blacksmith.” Indeed, he was. Urquhart (Erk-hart), in his mid-thirties, was seeking a greater level of the excellence he demanded of his art and his craft. He found it in the older men with whom an instant affinity developed and grew over the next years as Drew and Myers mentored Urquhart. And he perhaps, mentored them as well.
Tryon Arts and Crafts School (TACS) invites you into the remarkable story of a young man whose end of life was transformed through his association with the men of fire in the Forge at TACS, while at the same time, he inspired the future of TACS.
A new state of the art metals and glass studio stands in his memory, ready to hone skills of current and future artisans. This studio is an addition to the Michael Bell, Eagle Scout project forge which was erected in 2008.
Licensed architect, Julie McIntyre drew and along with Brady-Trakas Architecture, donated the design. Urquhart’s parents provided seed money. Quickly funds to complete the project were raised. Soon, Jerry Pospisil’s tractor rolled into the valley and ground was broken.
A construction company did not build the new studio. Despite a few disbelievers, an intrepid troupe of ‘Boomer’ volunteers have worked on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the past two and a half years through heat and cold, rain and sun to bring the new studio into life.
Urquhart’s father, Colin, was there every workday plus many additional hours. While a few aspects were contracted out, the volunteer team of men and women mostly in their 60s and 70s prevailed. And over months, determination, high spirits and hard work, directed by the knowledge and skill of Walt Myers have turned dreams and doubts into something magnificent. The Shane Urquhart studio offers artisans opportunities not available before in our area. A studio of torches invites new skills. Propane, acetylene, argon and oxygen from secured outside tanks are piped into workstations inside.
The creative spirit dances in the valley around TACS. It lives in the forge and new studio. Hand wrought scrollwork was pressed into hardening concrete floors. The plans called for plexiglass windows to bring natural light into the south facing wall. Stained glass artist, Jerry Pospisil offered glass instead. Yet he struggled in his mind with how to translate the essence of young Urquhart into the windows.
One day, on I-26 returning to the mountains from Spartanburg with the glass, the answer suddenly came to him. A rainbow. The windows he created depict the dark storm clouds necessary for a rainbow to form, both ends of a rainbow and the following blue skies. Urquhart’s life knew more than an ordinary darkness. Facing illness, Urquhart’s blue skies were found in the valley through the camaraderie and creativity of TACS. Pospisil’s inspired stained glass windows light the studio with the fire of Urquhart’s young spirit. Urquhart’s mother, Cyndy, seeing the installation being completed, stunned Pospisil with the story of a particularly influential college professor who had told Urquhart that “the most important part of art was utilizing color – the colors of the rainbow”.
Please follow a series of articles over the next weeks, as TACS shares some of the new opportunities this new studio offers the people of Polk County. Classes such as glass lamp work, and artisan welding of metals such as copper can now be offered. TACS instructors Joe Cooper and Julie McIntyre will be sharing their craft in the next two articles. Shane Urquhart’s parents will conclude the series with their story of their son’s life and struggles and how his association with TACS brought resolution and peace to his creative spirit.
The team of contributors to this amazing project and TACS are excited to present the new studio to the community of Tryon, Polk County and beyond, at a celebration of Grand Opening on Friday, April 3, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Artists will be at work inside the new studio and the forge demonstrating some of the capabilities to be offered to our community.
TACS is honored to present the work of Shane Urquhart as the April Artist of the Month. Selected works of art from throughout his life as well as the remarkable pieces he created in his last years, including the unforgettable blade that won the top award at the Juried Show at TACS in 2014, will be on display inside the TACS main building.
Please join us for a jubilant celebration of the New Fire Burning at TACS – the fire of the life of Shane Urquhart, the fire of the volunteers and the fire of the creative spirit. In its 60th year TACS celebrates growth through the Urquhart studio which stands as a symbol of hope for the future and our belief in the power of creative art to change lives. This story is everything but ordinary.
For more information about the school, call the office at 828-859-8323 or visit www.TryonArtsandCrafts.org.
Submitted by Judith Webb