By Martin J. Kidston
His insight is deep, his words profound, but there is no allegory here; only the drive to create, and a philosophical method of doing so.
How does creativity begin?
By simplifying the whole.
What does it mean to abstract?
Simple: Abstract is to subtract, deconstruct a larger component into its simplistic parts. Start small, work big, and never lose your mark.
This is the method of Lyndon Fayne Pomeroy, a man proud of his Irish surnames. Skilled in his endeavors, he is renowned artist and sculpture, philosopher and creator of ideas. And his work is as hot as a butane torch.
But before his work can be understood, before his creations can be truly appreciated, the man behind the meaning needs first to be revealed.
I was conceived in a buffalo wallow on my grandfathers homestead east of Richey, Montana, Lyndon said. I was delivered in a hospital in Sidney by a doctor that was a beagle. A doctor John Beagle, he admits.
Whether an interest in art is something innate or something learned is better left to academics. But Pomeroy traces his own artistic need back to an early age, back to a time on the homestead, back to where the isolation of his youth propelled his interests, pointing him left down diverging paths: The road of art and creativity.
When I was born, my mother worked in the hay fields, and I was born sickly. The doctor said she could never raise me and she believed him, so I was kept indoors growing up and I couldnt play with my siblings.
Looking back on that isolation, Pomeroy reasons that if, perhaps, he had instruments as a boy, he would have been a musician. If he had toys with which to play, he would have been an idiot. A TV? Id be a criminal, he said.
I had none of those things. All I had was wrapping paper and pencils, so I drew. You draw to see, its the process, not the product, he said, taking a sip of coffee.
The fact that I lived in an isolated corner of the world, I was able to make my own statement and do my own thing, Pomeroy recalls. You come with a propensity, to have talent is to have interest.
Pomeroy moved to Havre in 1933, where he attended Havre High and joined the Army Air Corps. After service with the Air Corps, he enrolled at Montana State College. Its now MSU-Bozeman, he informs. He earned both his BA and MFA from the school before coming back to the Hi-Line in 1953, where he taught art until 1958. Eventually, he moved to Billings, reorganized and continued teaching until 1961.
Can I say that I kicked that habit? he asks, revealing his dissatisfaction with said career. So he dropped teaching like a bad addiction and, self-directed, he changed focus.
Thats when I began working full time as a sculpture, artist and craftsman, he said. Ive been making a living ever since. Thats some 38 years or so.
His chosen path would have an arduous beginning. Pomeroy explained that in 1961, being a Montana artist was no easy task. For Montana was hardly the art center of the west, and there was nary a museum or gallery in sight, less the one in Helena, he recalls. But his excuses were as few as those Montana museums, and it was time to step up to bat, or take the bench.
You have to make the opportunities, Pomeroy advises.
Although his major media was ceramics, like a bee to another brand of flower, he was inspired to other forms of work.
I bought an ancient arc welder and an I-beam for an anvil and went to work, he said.
Some 38 years later that work has gained notice and earned Pomeroy a reputation. He has been commissioned by private collectors, companies big and small, and even the federal government. His sculptures are scattered throughout the country and he has 37 pieces on catalog at the Smithsonian Museum of Art in Washington D.C.
Despite his success, however, Pomeroy remains as humble as a porch hound on a summer night. He claims that the idea is always his most significant piece, his next work of art never finished always his favorite, and whats done well, its done.
You have thousands of ideas, theyre the cheapest thing you have available to yourself, and time is the most expensive commodity, he said. If you commissioned me to do a piece for you, I would ask you three things: Where will it be placed? What theme do you want? How much do you want to invest? With that, I will build the piece and bring it to you. You can accept it or reject it, but you cannot change it.
Pomeroys loyalty to the idea results in the integrity of his work. It has served him well and created what he says is a good relationship with his customers. Locally, the seekers of his work have been many, and his outdoor metal sculptures are on display throughout Havre. They include The Farmer, Stockman and Railroader, commissioned in 1976 by the old Havre Federal Savings and Loan; Hands Across the Boarder, commissioned in 1984 by Lyle Leeds and Stan Stephens, and The Max Kuhr Memorial, amongst others.
The Max Kuhr Memorial was my master thesis project, he recalls. The Kuhr family paid for the materials.
Of all his work, Pomeroy can hardly say what stands as his favorite piece. Narrowing it down, however, he confesses a soft spot for a mural he did, which now hangs in the Billings Federal Building.
It was the first major commission I got, he said. I was chosen through a selection process. Everyone who applied did so as a painter. I applied as a sculptor and was chosen by GSA in Washington, D.C.
Whats more, Pomeroy said, he received a phone call from a woman who had, out of sheer interest, cataloged all the art in all the nations federal buildings. She told Pomeroy the 10 by 44 foot metal mural in the Billings Federal Building was by far her favorite piece.
It was only unfortunate, she had told him, that so few people will ever see it.
I seldom have exhibits, Pomeroy said. But Im making an exception for Havre.
A sample of Lyndon Pomeroys work will be on display at the H. Earl Clack Museum sometime in August and September, he said.
I will display mostly sketches and photos of big pieces.