Texture, depth mark Rodriguez art – Powell Tribune

Jerry Rodriguez is a Powell native, artist and farmer. Each label feeds the others. His work is currently on display at Plaza Diane Community Center for the Arts, through May 20.
“I always …
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Jerry Rodriguez is a Powell native, artist and farmer. Each label feeds the others. His work is currently on display at Plaza Diane Community Center for the Arts, through May 20.
“I always made stuff, even when I was little,” he said during a recent interview. 
After he graduated from Powell High School, Rodriguez attended Montana State University and earned a bachelor’s degree, then went to graduate school at San Jose State in California. Those environments influenced his artwork.
“I was around casting at Montana State, around all those processes,” he said. “I adapted the processes to aluminum using sand casting. I could get aluminum free in Montana, because nobody was recycling it.”
Things were a little different in California, though. There, aluminum was recycled and Rodriguez had to pay for his metal. That made him switch to lost wax casting, because it used less metal. 
Before aluminum is cast, Rodriguez said, it is basically brown, similar in looks to bronze. After casting, it is like shiny tin foil. But sandblasting the piece makes all the difference.
“It [sandblasting] makes pits in the surface and the colors flow around and blend. You never know how it is going to come out,” he said.
Many of his pieces in the Plaza Diane exhibit show the earth tones of the high desert, while others carry the jewel tones of a peacock, ranging from plum to lavender with a hint of teal and gold thrown in for good measure.
Rodriguez has also taken workshops in marble carving and has cast glass and worked in ceramic. 
After San Jose, Rodriguez came back to Wyoming and life happened. He was married with a daughter and began coaching swim teams. He is also busy helping out on the family farm, where he does a great deal of mechanic work.
Even making repairs to equipment is an inspiration to Rodriguez.
“I see things when I am welding things, things I want to make from the scrap,” he said. 
He gets ideas everywhere. 
“I grew up on a farm, with all the machinery. I’d find skeletons and fossils. I like them and the manmade mechanical stuff,” Rodriguez said. Some or all of it wind up in his art.
“I kind of have an idea when I start on a piece. But they turn into what they are. The tall ones are to honor the big monuments like Easter Island or Stonehenge. There are even those kind of things in the West that have no name,” he said.
Most of the current show is older work.
Rodriguez said he wants to get back to creating new pieces someday, but he doesn’t like to be interrupted while working on a piece — and he needs time to think about the art before he starts on it.
“But the show inspires me to go back at it, if I don’t have to leave it sit for a long time,” he said.
The show of Jerry Rodriguez’s art will run through May 20. It’s open from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Plaza Diane Community Center for the Arts, 211 N. Bent St. in Powell. For more information, log on to www.plazadiane.org or check the social media page @Plazadiane on Facebook.

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