By Joanna Bastian
Several years ago, my husband and I were at a Christmas bazaar, choosing each other’s gifts. He spent a long time admiring a metal sculpture of a larger-than-life heron that stood serenely on display. He has often reminisced aloud about that heron, and commented upon the severe lack of garden art in our yard.
Enter Steve Love, the well-known and talented sculptor of the Methow Valley. At the Methow Valley Farmers Market this last summer, I stopped to admire his whimsical pieces, including turtles, fish, a horse rolling on its back, and a face intertwined in leaves. Remembering the heron that captured my husband’s attention, I asked, “Would you make a life-size heron for me? Do you have time to make one by Christmas?”
Over the next week, we discussed design ideas, and Steve drew some sketches. He suggested blue aluminum, which sounded just perfect for a blue heron.
Steve’s studio in Pateros, the Beyer Foundry, is located at the end of Pateros Memorial Park. With an expansive view of the sunny hills and blue waters of Lake Pateros, it is easy to see his inspiration. “I’ve always been interested in art, since I was child,” he said. “My first carving was a turtle out of a deer antler.” His earliest works were drawings, which then morphed into carvings of bone and wood.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Steve first traveled to Winthrop with a friend to pick apples. He was so impressed with the area that he moved here with his wife, Rosie Sirek, in 1985. A few years later, in 1991, Steve began working with noted sculptor Richard Beyer in Pateros, at the Beyer Foundry. Working with Richard, Steve added metal casting to his range of art mediums, and in 2002, Steve bought the Beyer Foundry from Richard.
Steve is the creator of several large public works throughout the United States. Here in the Methow Valley, we are very lucky to have several of his pieces on public display. In Winthrop, “Cowboy Draggin’ His Saddle” was a collaborative project with Richard — Steve created the saddle. On Glover Street in Twisp, Steve’s giant tortoise stands with its neck outstretched in front of the D*Signs Gallery. At the Twisp Ponds, an intricate display of spiraling wasps and salmon tell the story of the salmon’s life cycle and habitat. The “Methow Fishing” sculpture in front of Twisp Self Storage conveys yet another historical detail of salmon in the Methow Valley.
More of Steve’s art can be found on his website, www.beyerfoundry.com. In the summer, he can be found at the farmers markets. Steve creates all sizes of pieces, both big and small. I believe my favorite public art piece by Steve is the playground bears at Whitman Elementary in Lewiston, Idaho. Four life-sized cubs frolic about the playground, and one climbs the pole of a picnic shelter. Another one my personal favorites is of an old man sitting on a stump, holding a fish larger than himself, a tribute to a beloved elder who told many “big fish” stories.
Steve’s works are well thought out, down to each whimsical detail. The nuances make the difference between a mere piece of art and a masterpiece that conveys a story.