Jim Cinquemani Born 14 Jan 1948 Woburn, MA Moved to Texas in 1949
My fascination with art making started from an early age as I watched my grandfather scribble cartoons with pencil on a white porcelain-top kitchen table. Later, my grandmother would wipe off the drawings with a kitchen cloth to begin preparing for the evening meal. My grandparents recognized my interest and began giving me pencils and paper to practice my own cartooning and drawings.
Interests with art making, drawing, and then sculpture continued through high-school. An especially formative experience was working with my father at his tool and die making machine shop. I received great training from him learning much about the art of precision machining and welding. And, I had time at the end of the day to make sculptures with left over scrap materials.
In my last year at Sunset High, Dallas, I won a prize at an annual high school art competition held at the University of Dallas, Irving. I was introduced to Heri Bartscht who taught sculpture at U.D. He was impressed by my work and invited me to join him that summer at his North Oak Cliff art studio to help him with welding and bronze castings on a large sculpture commission for a church in Brenham, Texas. Soon after, I became his apprentice and worked with him for another 2 years on numerous projects. I learned the disciplines and techniques of hammered copper, wood carving, plaster casting, bronze casting, brazing, acetylene welding, etc. But, more importantly, I began to develop a rigorous work ethic plus an approach to the aesthetics of art and object making.
Because of my age and the U.S. military draft, I was compelled to join the U.S. Air Force in February 1968. After basic training, I received orders to attend the University of Syracuse, NY to study Russian through the USAFSS Eastern European Language Program. After completing 20+ months of language and tech training, I received my security clearances while at Goodfellow Air Base, Texas. I was assigned to Karamursel, Turkey for 15 months and then finished my last year of service in the Aleutian Islands.
I returned to civilian life in January of 1972 and enrolled immediately at the University of Dallas to work toward my undergraduate degree in art. Preferring hands on work creating sculptures and other objects, I left school to pursue life as a maker of things.
I found work at several local metal fabricating shops even once building armored limousines for a year. In 1975 I was hired by "Dallas Metalsmiths". The company was a 40 year old family owned and operated business with a reputation for the finest architectural metalworking in Dallas/ Ft. Worth area. We fabricated architectural metal objects from customer specifications in brass, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel, selected steel and iron all in contemporary styling. I became more competent/confident with the materials, processes and those forms of object making. It was here that I found my career path, combining art and craft in the creation of functional one-of-a-kind metalworks.
With an increasing demand for my work outside of the company, I departed to start my own independent metalworking business in 1980. I resolved to stay small and take on work that I could comfortably manage single handedly, though I have had the help of a good assistant from time to time. While the materials and processes remained essentially the same my new clients were requesting more design input from me. In time I developed good rapport with many architects/designers and gained a trust that the work produced for their clients was appropriate in design and of the highest quality workmanship.
I have worked collaboratively with artists participating in design and production. Mimi's Garden at the Dallas Arboretum is an example of pure design collaboration of which I am especially proud. Though ordinarily having a full schedule of projects for others, I have continued to design, develop and produce unique metalworks of my own.
For more than 30 years I've had many opportunities to work on great and challenging projects in developing the ideas of others as well as my own. I look forward to continued success in producing many other fine metalworks.