Moxie Metal: A Modern Day Alchemist Right Here in Our Oakland Back Yard
Calla Lily from Mars
Do you know what an alchemist is?
Anyone who lives in or has ever visited the San Francisco Bay area knows there is no shortage of art. Los Angeles may be the locus of Hollywood Glitz, but San Francisco is where true art abounds. From painters to poets, and everything in between, San Francisco is a mecca for cultural fanatics. On the flip side, just because the area is teeming with creative types, doesn't necessarily mean they're all worthy of our attention. Some are still finding their style. Others have a long way to go before they come into their own. And then there are the Brilliant Ones. Those rare few who have mastered their craft and shine far brighter than all the rest combined. The ones who seem to have that special something that sets them apart from the generic wannabes.
One such artist is Alba Urbina. From her sunny studio in Oakland, just this side of Berkeley and all the trendy boutiques, she spends her days crafting exquisite pieces of functional art made from wrought iron, very strong arms and a whole lot of fire. She calls her business Moxie Metal. It is no surprise that she chose that particular word: “moxie”. Because if anyone has it, she surely does. She is the quintessential Alchemist in a time when most folks don't even know what an Alchemist is. But not for long.
Urbina studied at Parson's School of Design back when personal computers were just hitting the scene. Graphic Arts, jewelry design, millinery, and photography were among her interests. She moved to the West Coast shortly after finishing her education and worked in the graphic arts arena while she continued to study and hone her skills in metal arts. Finally, in the early 90's, she stuck out on her own to create and sell her stunning pieces of both jewelry and metal art. Since that time, her work has continued to evolve into what has become some of the most unique and sought after art in the country.
When visiting with her for our interview, the first thing that struck me was her powerful sense of Self. She is a woman who is most comfortable in her skin. Her kinship with the metals she works with seems to be a part of her. As if there are thousands of years of knowledge stored in her cells. Or perhaps a tribe of her Colombian ancestors whispering in her ear as she heats and bends and hammers the metal into the image she sees through their eyes. It is, for lack of any other way to say it, a very spiritual experience.
I was in awe as I watched her turn pieces of rod and sheet into a large Calla Lily candle holder. She finished the piece with her signature Bronze and Copper Verdigris and set it in the sun to cure. I sat on a rock with tears in my eyes at the sight of such a stunning creation. I just couldn't wrap my brain around what she'd done. Yes, her work is that good.
By the time I left her studio late that afternoon, I was hooked. I wanted to buy all her pieces. Candle holders, coat racks, hat trees, toilet paper holders, and jewelry displays. Every piece was calling my name, urging me to take them home. I'm quite certain it had as much to do with her energy in each piece as it did with the piece itself. No kidding.
It would be a huge understatement to say that Alba Urbina is gifted. She is so much more than that. But you don't have to take my word for it. You can see for yourself by visiting her shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/sparkafarian. But don't wait. From now til the end of June she is offering free shipping on all orders. (Be sure to use the code on the Moxie Metal home page)