The opening night reception for ArtSouth’s debut exhibition of AlJohn Farquharson’s remarkable artwork took place on Oct. 19 at Perrine Community House in Palmetto Bay.
The room was packed with attendees — family, friends and area residents — viewing the art and engaged with each other and the artist with boisterous conviviality.
Twenty-five of Farquharson’s copper sculptures were featured in an exhibit titled “Pipe Dreams,” constructed of recycled or discarded copper pipe and sheeting. They ranged from a tall standing alligator and fish of various kinds to benches and musical instruments. There even was a man standing in a small boat, fishing, with his dog.
The artist, a Palmetto Bay resident for the past four years and a native Miamiian, was pleased with the venue.
“I have always been attracted to the outside charm of the Perrine Community House,” he said. “The limestone brick construction is not only beautiful, but it stands the test of time. I thought it was the perfect venue for my first show because I make my art with the same concept in mind. I want it to be visually appealing and also be around long after I’m gone.”
Farquharson has been making art from recycled copper for the past three years and giving much of it away to spread random kindness.
“My first piece came from my greatest inspiration — my wife. I needed a Mother’s Day present and it was too late to buy one…so I made one. A copper flower planter.”
What prompts much of his art has been the materials that are available.
“I go to scrap yards along the Miami River and search for materials, copper sheets, pipes, and others. Working with copper is easy for me. I have been welding it since I was an apprentice in my dad’s air conditioning business. The challenge comes in making 3-D shapes. To bring a picture to life in 3-D using copper tubing and sheeting requires the precise amount of heat to manipulate the metal without melting it. Also, a lot of my items are functional, like the benches, and must be designed strong enough to withstand the forces applied to them.”
A standout moment during the reception was when a copper violin he had crafted was played with great skill by his neighbor and professional violinist Ashley Liberty, followed by Farquharson playing several songs on a copper guitar he had made. His skill at playing and singing was impressive.
“I have played piano since I was a young child, but in my teens, there was a music minister who was the first person who really instilled in me the love of playing a guitar and singing.
I did that as a teen in the church band, but nowadays I do it for personal enjoyment and for my children and hopefully I can pass along the passion for it.”
Palmetto Bay’s Mayor Karyn Cunningham attended the reception and said she was impressed with his art.
“I loved AlJohn’s creations,” Mayor Cunningham said. “His talent brings copper to life with his timeless creations turning recycled copper to create eco-friendly art that makes a statement. His pieces capture the whimsical and the practical from his animal creations to his cooper seating and signs. We look forward to featuring one of his pieces at our State of the Village. I have to say it, #PalmettoBaysGotTalent.”
For information about AlJohn Farquharson visit www.instagram.com/random_arts_of_kindness/
The next ArtSouth exhibition will feature the work of Ursula Fernandez with the opening reception on Nov. 15. Perrine Community House is located at 900 Perrine Ave. in Palmetto Bay.