Mid-Shore Habitat: The Whimsical Metal Sculpture of David Dunn

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Last night I decorated my Christmas tree with one of my older siblings while we listened to the Vince Guaraldi Trio Christmas album, better known to other  “Peanuts” fans as the soundtrack  to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Now that my tree is resplendent with all my beloved ornaments from Christmases past, the floor is bare and in need of presents!

The perfect unique gift for the gardener or art lover on my list would be one of the whimsical sea creature sculptures of local artist David Dunn. David grew up in  DC and spent summers and holidays at his family’s waterfront Bozman home. From an early age, he would take driftwood and other Bay detritus deposited by the high tides and repurpose them into three-dimensional art. The Chesapeake Bay provided an unlimited source of found materials which later inspired his “Sea Creatures” series of metal art.

As the son of a diplomat, David spent his early years in Paris where he was captivated by art and later attended the College of Charleston where he majored in theater. His focus was prop design and fabrication but art still beckoned. As his interest in metal design grew, he decided to do post-graduate work in welding.

This training, his innate design talent, his love of the Chesapeake Bay and his life-long interest in “found” objects culminated in his current series “Kings of the Sea” which is fabricated entirely in metal and painted in bright colors.

His workday begins by looking at life that exists in and around the Bay waters and foraging for items he then repurposes into new life forms.  These items include industrial parts, bike gear mechanisms, clamps, and bolts that in his creative hands are transformed into “sea creatures” and “tool critters”. In one of my favorite critters, the handle of a wrench became the spine, the clamps the teeth and the bolts the eyes. In another delightful critter, a helmet and cutlery were transformed into a turtle. Some critters maintain their metal color while others are brightly painted like the captivating “Sailfish.”

David’s work can be found in private collections both local and national including clients on the Eastern Shore and New York City, Key West, Malibu and Washington DC. Currently his “Octopus King of the Sea” is on exhibit at the Academy of Art in Easton through mid-January.

I firmly believe a daily touch of whimsy is good for the soul. Now that gardens are becoming dormant until spring, one of David’s colorful whimsical creations may be just the antidote to the winter doldrums and the perfect gift for the gardener on your list!

For further inspiration visit David’s website at www.dunninmetal or contact him via email at dunninmetal@gmail.com or call 202-390-1881.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

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