Mesa Library: Metal Menagerie by Richard Swenson and David Trujillo

Local artist Richard Swenson with his larger than life ‘running man’ piece at Audobon Park in New Orleans. Courtesy/MPL


Metal Menagerie: Scrap Metal Sculpture by Richard Swenson and David Trujillo

Mesa Public Library Art Gallery Jan. 16-Feb. 27

Public Reception 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16

Metal artisits Richard Swenson and David Trujillo are Los Alamos neighbors, friends and fellow sculptors of fantastic forms.

Their delightful rabbits; prancing, stylized horses; plunging and cavorting wild hogs; giraffes; whales; sinuous dragons; armadillos; porcupines, not to mention elegant, abstract humans, are melded and welded from all manner of scrap metal.

“Do you know what this is?” Swenson asks, smiling and pointing to a very solid chunk of precisely machined metal that happens to be a giraffe’s shoulder. “A piece from a tool to yoke oxen together!”

Or, as part of an expressive, rearing  horse, the mane is made of something that looks like a timing chain, though viewers would have a hard time guessing the original uses of the myriad parts that go into Swenson’s sculptures.

Local artist David Trujillo’s “Bugs Rabbit.” Courtesy/MPL

Swenson’s work has been shown in museums, galleries, libraries and a whole host of other venues. His art and his creatures, clearly grounded in his early years on a farm in North Dakota, are an intriguing puzzle of parts for adults and a visual delight for all ages

David Trujillo’s work takes a different tack, combining scrap metal – even the odd fork or spoon – with rocks, glass and the occasional other found objects, which result in wry, whimsical creatures full of character who look like they might be right at home in a Wallace and Gromit film.

Both men began creating sculpture after long careers in science: Swenson had a 30-year career in nuclear reactor physics and acoustic research in support of anti-submarine warfare and Trujillo, born and raised in New Mexico, used his degrees in civil and structural engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

After retiring in 2008, Trujillo learned from another sculptor neighbor before making Swenson’s acquaintance and spending many hours honing his craft with Swenson.

“Sea Horse” by artist Richard Swenson. Courtesy/MPL

As artists, Trujillo and Swenson are very successful and have local and regional followers.

Both show their work in Los Alamos at Karen Wray Fine Art.

Trujillo’s work has been included in the prestigious Contemporary Hispanic Market during Spanish Market in Santa Fe and Swenson also shows his work at the New Concept Gallery in Santa Fe.

New Orleans has benefitted from Swenson’s creativity with a larger than life ‘running man’ piece in the Audobon Park as well as a tiger at Louisiana State University.

“Flying Pigs” by artist Richard Swenson. Courtesy/MPL

The work of both varies in scale and visitors are invited to experience the whole menagerie, large and small, at the Mesa Public Library Art Gallery.

The exhibit opening reception, at which everyone is welcome, will be 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16 and is part of the Chamber of Commerce FAN Club event in conjunction with the Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries. Refreshments will be provided by Peggy Pendergast.

The exhibit will continue on view Jan. 17 through Feb. 27 during regular library hours: 

  • Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday noon-5 p.m. 

Visit the Los Alamos County website for full details:

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