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Don Drumm celebrating 80th birthday

4/2/2015 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Don Drumm, who will celebrate his 80th birthday and 55 years in Akron, as well as his 55th wedding anniversary with his artist/wife, Lisa, is shown working on a piece many years ago.
Photo courtesy of Don Drumm Studios & Gallery
DOWNTOWN AKRON — A party to celebrate Akron metal sculptor Don Drumm’s 80th birthday will take place April 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Don Drumm Studios & Gallery, located at 437 Crouse St.

The birthday celebration at the studio will include the opening of a special spring show featuring artwork sent by 28 of the country’s top craftspeople to honor Drumm’s birthday, according to gallery officials. In addition, Drumm’s work will be available for 20 percent off, and Drumm will share birthday cake with visitors from 1 to 3 p.m.

This celebratory year is also Drumm and wife Lisa’s 55th anniversary of settling in Akron and their 55th wedding anniversary, according to gallery officials.

Drumm, a Warren native, said he became an artist after signing up for an art class in the spring of his freshman year as a respite from the demanding load of studying medicine at Baldwin-Wallace College, which is now Baldwin Wallace University. That art class led Drumm to change his career focus from veterinary medicine to art. The following year, he transferred to Kent State University for a fuller experience in art, he said.

“I made my contribution to humanity by getting out of medicine,” he said.

Upon graduating with a master’s degree in fine arts, Drumm came to Akron for an industrial design job, but the company closed down two years later. He said he got some commission work and also started working with a retired individual who had worked in the foundry next door, and he learned a lot from him.

Drumm opened an art studio in Akron in 1960, and today, the studio and gallery include a foundry and eight buildings, and represents over 500 professional American artists. It has been nationally recognized as one of the top American craft galleries in North America by artists and craftsmen across the country and Canada, according to gallery officials.

Drumm, the grandson of a blacksmith and son of an auto mechanic, said it is the unexpected changes in his life that have helped him grow as an artist. His art experience includes six years as artist-in-residence at Bowling Green State University, where his work, which includes a 10-story sandblasted concrete wall relief on the school library, is displayed throughout campus, according to gallery officials. Drumm and his wife, also an artist, taught metal and fiber arts at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.

“I love doing new things, and I especially like working on the large pieces that leave a mark,” said Drumm, whose corporate commissions have taken his sculptures to five continents. “That keeps me moving and challenged.”

Some of these large pieces in the Akron area include the cast aluminum and steel fountain in Cascade Plaza in Downtown Akron, a two-story concrete wall relief of animals at the Akron Zoo in West Akron and a freestanding steel sculpture called “Sky Notch” at the Morley Health Center in Downtown Akron. Other recent projects include five steel Solar Totems in the courtyard at the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library, a concrete relief wall sculpture of a peace dove flying with three children on its back at the entrance to Akron Children’s Hospital and a two-story sun mobile hanging in the Jean and Milton Cooper Cancer Center at Summa Akron City Hospital. He also has created pieces around The University of Akron student housing.

Drumm’s signature pieces include the cast aluminum suns that have brightened private homes, businesses, offices and public places such as the Akron-Summit County Main Library. He said the suns are a “fun thing to do after a big job.” He explained the idea came from one of his art teachers telling him a circle was one of the biggest challenges for an artist.

“This morphed into the sun, which appears prominently in every society,” he said.

Drumm said he has “absolutely no plans for retirement” and plans “to work as long as I can.”

Currently, he is working on a piece for Gannon University in Pennsylvania.

He credits his wife, who began running the gallery upon her retirement from teaching art for Akron Public Schools, with some of his success.

“[She] has supported some of my experimental work,” he said. “I also appreciate that people in Akron have supported my work. Akron has been wonderful to me and that is what has kept me here all these years.”

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