Timothy R. Poe

389 3rd, St., Thomas, Birmingham, Al. 35214 p:205-240-9429  

E-Mail: tpoe3@bham.rr.com www.TimothyPoe.com

Birmingham is a city forged from iron; the industrial revolution inalterably, reshaped our lives, ushered in the 20th century while the world experienced rapid change. The Thomas Iron & Coke Works then to become Republic Steel, operated for more than a century and supported the first blast furnace in Birmingham; a significant event given the city grew around the production of steel.  All of the raw elements of limestone, coal and the iron ore required for making the iron pigs (elongated bread loaf shaped ingots of iron) the core element of steel production, were directly under the ground of this 1700-acre facility.  Bi-products produced from the captured residual smoke of the coke plant began in the early 1950’s and continued to complement production of iron and coke (a form of pure carbon made from coal) until Republic Steel ceased production in 1982. Wade Sand & Gravel, the limestone / dolomite quarry operated in and around the Republic Steel facility. My first introduction to the now dormant Republic Steel facility and Wade Sand & Gravel was during the spring of 1996. At this time I was an art student attending UAB where Janice Kluge was my professor for a 3 – dimensional design class. Robin & Caroline Wade were hosting a Xavier University art professor John Scott. He was constructing colorful figurative iron forms from steel plate; these art forms were later presented at the Birmingham Museum of Art where Mr. Scott was the featured artist for the Museum’s Birmingham Festival of the Arts event. Janice Kluge asked for volunteers’ to assist Mr. Scott’s effort, therein, I volunteered… While experiencing the work of John Scott I overheard someone say that Robin & Caroline Wade were offering studio space for artists in the dormant Republic Steel facility. On June 3, 1996, after receiving my diploma two months later on June 3rd, I spoke with Robin Wade inquiring about a space.  We set a time to meet the day after to tour the facility; this day was June 6 offered several possibilities for a studio where I chose the former coal-testing lab adjacent to a large shed structure. This space took six months to restore and construct the equipment necessary for glass and metal casting. I have been a part of the Thomas Project artists since that time, a great privilege.

Something like a year after the studio was operational, Mr. Robin Wade asked me to seek out other artists who might want to have a space there.  Since that time there have been artists who have restored a building or a space adjacent to another artist in the same building. There are now 12 artists who maintain a studio in building’s that once was the Republic Steel facility. Some have come and departed where now 6 of the 12, including myself, have tenure of over 10 years.

The environment of what is now Wade Sand & Gravel and the remaining infrastructure of the Republic Steel facility provide a kind of surreal perspective of what is above and below us, metaphor’s, ideas of the past, present and future are all valid considerations for here and now. My personal perspective of this place is a hybrid of beauty and sublimity but more so of the sublime. The object, earth, water and sky keep me in touch with the ideas of reason and in reason itself. When perceiving the landscape of this facility and the aesthetic pleasure that comes, free play between imagination, understanding and inspiration are here, ever present.

I once asked Mr. Robin Wade the decision he and his wife Caroline made to open this facility to artists? His reply… “ Artist’s need other Artist's"

Just inside the back gate of Wade Sand & Gravel, one would notice a 50 ft. Tee-Pee structure constructed from rail road rails. This is Robin Wade’s creation.

The following images are examples of my work since 1996.  Various genres and mediums; I would agree with suggestion that my compositions in sculpture and painting were  "mixed-media", as is life.  The aesthetic reasoning, if only in part, out of the environment that is this facility and the studio, the primary elements found here help influence and decide. Other influential considerations are relevant to personal time , place and those moments when choices are possible outside of reason.