HEARTWELL — Most people wouldn’t be happy to see junk on their back porch. But when Sally Jurgensmier sees a heap of metal, it puts a smile on her face.
Jurgensmier makes and sells metal sculptures using what others would consider junk from her workshop in Heartwell. It’s hard to imagine one of her whimsical sculptures as a lifeless heap of cold metal.
“Sometimes, people look at my stuff and start making their own interpretations. That doesn’t bother me. There is no wrong interpretation when it comes to art,” Jurgensmier said.
The Heartwell native has a bachelor’s degree in art from Hastings College. She has been dabbling in art for about 20 years.
She owned and ran an antique store in Minden from 1996 to 2006. Seven years ago, she started selling her recycled metal sculptures full time after her father died and left an empty farmhouse at Heartwell. Jurgensmier said her workshop was already at the farmhouse, and the house needed “a warm body” in it.
“I was in-between jobs and careers. I still enjoyed metal working. I had some dear friends who encouraged me to do my sculptures full time,” Jurgensmier said.
Most of her current projects are custom and commissioned sculptures. Welding appealed to her because of how different it is from traditional art.
“Initially, it was so out of my character. I don’t want to say it was a man’s trade, but you do think of males more than females. It was just intriguing to me, I think, because it was just so different,” Jurgensmier said.
Some of the time spent making her sculptures involves finding the junk and cleaning the pieces. Getting a good weld often means cleaning off rust. Jurgensmier considers her artwork a form of recycling. She loves the challenge of putting new life in something that’s been thrown away.
Jurgensmier said her mother’s love for antiquing has been a subtle influence in her art.
“I think whether I realize it or not, it’s a underlying influence that’s always there — maybe seeing the potential of something used years ago. I think it’s there whether I want to fully admit it or not,” she said.
One of her sculptures will be in an outdoor art exhibit called The Sculpture Walk in Sioux Falls, S.D., next spring. The Sculpture Walk is an outdoor exhibit that runs year-round in downtown Sioux Falls.
Jurgensmier also will have a sculpture featured in the Wings Over the Platte Show in Grand Island Feb. 14 to April 16. She has participated as an invited artist for seven years. The Wings Over the Platte Show is sponsored by the Stuhr Museum.
She does about one art show a month during the summer. Her custom orders can take about two to three months to complete. On a recent day, her workshop had two metal sculptures of Christmas trees for the holiday. She also does custom signs. Like many artists, there is always the need to feel connected to her art.
“It’s very gratifying to have a satisfied customer. It’s very gratifying to see someone else exited about something I’m excited about, to look at a piece of a junk that’s been discarded and thought to be lifeless. And here I can somehow turn it around and somehow give it some spirit,” Jurgensmier said.
Jurgensmier has two open houses a year at her farm, one in spring and one in fall. She sells most of her artwork through her website, www.sculpturesbysally.com. All of her upcoming shows and exhibits are posted on her website, as are photos of her sculptures.