Sculptor/Blacksmith Craig Kaviar has been producing forged iron and bronze sculpture, architectural elements, and furniture in Louisville, KY since 1985. Kaviar is an alumnus of Tufts University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and has studied at the Boston Museum School. Kaviar has been passionately making metalwork for over 30 years. With eco-friendly values, his process involves heating the metal in his waste vegetable oil forge fueled by a neighboring business, North End Café.
Kaviar also repurposed his tools: the 200 pound Chambersburg Air Hammer that was originally built to be carried on a World War II battleship and a 200 ton press purchased from the Charlestown Ammunition Plant.”I like feel that by reusing this machinery of war for the making of artwork I am in a small way helping to turn swords into plowshares, said Kaviar.
He not only works with glowing hot temperatures to shape unyielding materials as if they were clay but also shares this mystical experience by teaching others. He works with apprentices on a daily basis, leads weekly tours, and teaches classes twice a year. While he is influenced by contemporary sculpting giants Diego Giacometti and Alexander Calder, his process derives from ancient metalworking methods. His work is a combination of elegant lines and hand-wrought texture that turns each creation into a work of art. The organic forms of birds and leaves are often showcased in his art, particularly his landscape architecture and glass-topped tables and chairs.
Kaviar now ranks as one of the Commonwealth’s most prominent artists. His work was featured on the Home and Garden TV network show, “Modern Masters” and has appeared in a number of books illustrating the art of ironwork. His work has been on display at the Worlds Fair in Japan, located in the United States Pavilion. In 2000, the Sister Cities program sent Kaviar on a cultural exchange to Mainz, Germany to help celebrate Johann Gutenberg’s 600th anniversary. In commemoration, he created a three-dimensional Gothic “G” with Gutenberg’s portrait carved into in. He also made a limited number of coins for the occasion.
His work adorns many of the most prominent public and private spaces in Louisville, including the First Unitarian Church, The Jewish Community Center, The Temple, Bellarmine University, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and the Kentucky Center. He has recently sculpted a series of grills and gates for the courtyard garden of the newly restored Christ Church Cathedral. Brown-Forman has long been a patron, commissioning some of Kaviar’s most important work, including the entrance gates to the Labrot & Graham Distillery; “Oak Tree Melody,” the sculptural entrance to a walking tunnel; and “Corinthian Column,” a sculpture in the company’s garden. His work has now moved from the homes, gardens and public spaces of Louisville to its galleries, where exhibitions of Kaviar’s work have been mounted at Swanson-Cralle Gallery, Images Friedman Gallery, the Bernheim Arboretum, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, and Galerie Hertz.
He also owns Kaviar Gallery, located on the same premises as the forge, in the Clifton neighborhood where the public can see examples of his own work as well as fine paintings, ceramics, jewelry and other works by over 100 professional artists. Over 30 of the artists represented are local to Kentuckiana. With rotating exhibitions exemplifying various media and newly forged architectural installments, Kaviar continuously changes the space in a myriad of ways.