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Gordon Bowen makes bronze sculptures from a foundry he started from scrap

Gordon Bowen used found materials to piece together his fine art foundry in Lincoln Heights.
Gordon Bowen used found materials to piece together his fine art foundry in Lincoln Heights.
Jessica Lum/KPCC

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Artist Gordon Bowen makes bronze sculptures out of his very own foundry--which is a factory that casts metal--in Lincoln Heights. He started the Arts Refoundry last year with his girlfriend, Kate Mayfield, and uses found materials and bronze to create sculptures. Kate handles the business side while Gordon makes the sculptures.

Bowen got interested in sculpture during college. The first time he poured hot metal, Bowen says he "got to lift up the molten metal and pour it into the mold. After that moment was when I was like, 'Wow, I'm gonna do this again, and again, and again.'"

Bowen worked in several foundries around Los Angeles before he decided he wanted to start his own. But foundries cost money--and Bowen couldn’t afford the equipment to start a business. So like any good artist, he got creative: Gordon drove around Los Angeles in search of spare parts to make a furnace. But he wasn't just looking for random pieces of scrap metal, he says, "you're looking for a specific piece of junk. Like, the right piece of junk!"

Gordon eventually found a hot water heater--there was his furnace. Not only was it cost efficient, but also made it easier for them to start their business.

Gordon Bowen says the best part of the process isn't the final product, but the potential he sees in his medium. "You'll see a piece of steel with a particular shape," he says. "And you look at it for a second and in your mind it's already turned into fifteen things."

If you want to take part in the process, the Arts Refoundry holds workshops where you can make your own metal sculpture. You can sign up for classes on their website.