Story and photos by D. Anthony Botkin
Story and photos by D. Anthony Botkin
Despite being an internationally acclaimed and award-winning heavy metal sculptor, Mac Worthington doesn’t intentionally seek to convey messages, themes, nor bring causes to attention with his art. Worthington is more focused on the space, color and design of his pieces.
“People buy for two big reasons — color and space,” he said about his commissioned work, which at times he will conform to the buyer’s wishes. However, “They have been well-received or I wouldn’t do them.”
Worthington paints abstract cityscapes. He said one woman saw one of his cityscapes and asked that he paint a sun into the scene.
“I said sure, I’ll put a sun in it,” he said. “A lot of artists won’t do that, but that is what most of it is. If you’re going to do this to make a living but say you’re not going to do (what the patron has asked), you just lost $1,000 or more in commission. So, I incorporate their ideas of color and space.”
Worthington’s body of work — what seems to be an unending — includes wall sculptures, abstract paintings, large and small outdoor sculptures, and functional art for public and corporate spaces.
“All of my work is radical or expressionistic abstract,” he said. “I find abstract heavy iron sculpture to be romantic.”
Many of Worthington’s pieces are sleek, brightly colored stainless steel or aluminum sculptures that stand 10-20 feet tall. Yet, his earlier works were created from different metals entirely.
“When I started, I worked in iron and steel,” he said as he walked around in his front yard, which is now a sculpture park. “A lot of these I call my early works. Some go back into the ’70s. Some of the steel ones, we had to have 18-wheelers and forklifts to take them to the client. You couldn’t lift them.”
Sometime later in his career, Worthington switched to working with aluminum and stainless steel, which he said “is prettier and more manageable.”
Worthington said he doesn’t get artist block.
“The ideas come easily to me,” he said. However, “I’ve done so many pieces now that I’m running out of names. I have title block. You got to have a name — something to connect to the piece.”
Worthington said he has a list of every piece he has created, which helps him avoid the duplication of names. He said he consults the list before he names a new piece.
“Did I use that name already?” he’ll ask himself. “I’ll go and look or for some of the really good titles I’ll call it edition II or III.”
Little kids, Worthington said, are the best at naming his pieces.
“You get a 7- or 8-year-old kid and they’ll tell you right away what it looks like to them,” he said. “They’re the best, because when you get somebody older, they’re thinking just too hard and don’t come up with anything.”
Worthington installs most of the larger pieces he creates for patrons. He said that he and his assistant, Collin Prindle, who Worthington calls his “Ace Extraordinary Installer,” installed 100 pieces for clients just this summer alone. He said a month ago, the two of them installed a piece 25-30 feet in the air.
“It took us four hours to get it up there,” he said. “Everybody wants this stuff installed up high. They seem not to want anything at eye level anymore.”
Worthington said he always knew he was going to be an artist growing up. Both of his parents were artists. His father was a sculptor who worked in bronze, and his mother did enameling and silver work.
“I’m what I refer to myself as a cradle artist,” he said. “I grew up with it.”
Worthington said he is completely self taught.
“I’ve just been lucky that my work was well-received, because when I first started with steel, I rented this tiny, weeny, small space down in the Short North of Columbus,” he said. “It’s a tough living. It is hard. You got to be hustling it all the time, and you can’t rest on your laurels.”
Worthington can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Fine Art America, and in a publication in England. He said he enjoys the marketing part of his business.
“I spend three to fours every day just on marketing. Now I’m everywhere,” he said. “My work is in every state in the country, plus Canada, England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Virgin Islands. I get a lot of business through Facebook more than I do my gallery.”