October 22, 2017

The Wizard Artist of Dumbledore, New Mexico

Posted on 30. May, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in NM, Social/Cultural

You needn’t look farther than the East Mountains outside Albuquerque to find the fantasy of Harry Potter materialize into reality. Not only is the house reminiscent of the popular Joann Kathleen (J.K.) Rowling series of otherworldly buildings like Dumbledore Castle, but its owner, Leslie Feuerborn, could have been the model for the wizard Gandalf in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.

An artist versed in stone masonry, woodworking, carving, stained glass and welding, the Oklahoma-born Feuerborn came to New Mexico in 1991.

After a stint as sculptor-in-residence at Casa de Suenos in Albuquerque he fulfilled a personal dream and moved to a secluded spot, high in the East Mountains where he could build his eclectic home and pursue his art while living a simple life.

When you first look at Feuerborn’s home you’ll swear you’ve fallen through Alice’s looking glass. Parts that normally reside on cars, telephone poles, farm machinery, airplanes, and somebody’s kitchen suddenly merge together to create a transformer-like house.

Your eye wanders from top to bottom taking it all in, wondering how it came to be. Says Leslie, “It took me 13 years to get to this point and I’m still not finished. I need to fit in the stained glass and a few other embellishments.”

I ask him about the outdoor pyramid that’s 25 ft. off the ground and that can only be reached by an industrial grating ramp. At the top of the 8×8 ft. platform is a huge steel open pyramid extending  into the air offering an exceptional view of the house’ roof treatments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long flowing translucent plastic decorative pieces that adorn the west roof could have been part of a Viking ship or an old Norwegian stave church and are now glowing in the fading light of the sun as we descend the pyramid (Leslie uses the pyramid for sunbathing and meditation).

Living as a quasi-ascetic and self-proclaimed ‘raw fooder,’ this soft-spoken and articulate man is obviously well-read and has come to both his philosophy of life and art via a long and winding road.

Back on terra firma, we move through piles of diverse ‘MIW’ (material-in-waiting) for future sculptures and come upon a steel and glass mandala-like piece that is proudly showing off the sun’s rays through its stained glass design. It’s obvious that this is one of Leslie’s favorites but I ask him to make sure.

His answer surprises me. “I have no favorites. They’re like children that are born, grow up and leave home.” So it is with art, especially art that  is meant to be shared with as many people as possible.

There are actually two Leslies: Leslie the artist and Leslie the craftsman. Both live together enjoying each new scavenged find of new unusual materials from old buildings or job sites that can be bent, cut, hammered and shaped into ethereal objets d’art.

Where does all this creativity come from I asked. He smiles and points upward and inward at the same time. “The cosmos, my parents and past lives I suppose. My father was a master gardener and my mother was a fine musician. Some of that might have rubbed off on me, but for the most part, I’m self-taught. Everything I know about the tools and processes I use I’ve learned from observing others and of course through trial and error.”

The newest addition to the Feuerborn arsenal of tools is a sophisticated cutting device that can make short work of granite and cast iron and allow him to reproduce his intricate designs on super dense, hard-to-pierce materials. It sits outside amid the MIWs, itself a kind of industrial art of the 21st century.

I couldn’t help but notice his fondness for arches and gates that dot his estate. “Arches tell you that something important is on the other side and they help focus the energy. They’re also fun to do.”

Whimsy is a word that comes to mind to describe Leslie Feuerborn’s work that is until you see him at work and listen to him speak of things like the nature of creativity, man’s relation to his surroundings and of course, spiritual geometry.

Our interview nearly over I asked him what one of his guiding principles of life was. It took him no time at all to answer. “Be true to yourself, live an honest life and don’t be afraid to take your own advice.”

Sage words from the wizard artist of Dumbledore.

Editor – More information on the sculptures of Leslie Feuerborn that are available for purchase or for special commissioned art may be obtained through the New Mexican Voice at: editor@newmexicanvoice.com

 

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