South Miami

New art manufacturer joins burgeoning Bird Road Art District

Two workers melt bronze.
Two workers melt bronze. Ariana Hernández-Reguant

Before art lovers can feast their eyes on contemporary art sculptures, they should become familiar with the talent, diligence and expertise of the professionals involved in creating them.

That is the concept behind the R.U.N. Art Foundry in the burgeoning Bird Road Art District — where galleries, alternative spaces and art studios coexist with industrial warehouses. It is a workspace that houses an array of materials used to create sculptures by skilled workers.

At the same time, the project hopes to become a reference point for Miami’s artists, gallery owners, producers and art collectors.

“We don’t want to be solely a production space or just another factory,” said Uldis Lopez, one of the three founders of R.U.N. Art Foundry. “We want to go beyond that and become a creative platform for artists.”

Lopez, an artist and sculptor whose creative work spans more than two decades, founded the project along with Reynold Stewart and Niels Moleiro, who have contributed money as well as artistic experience to the foundry. Moleiro forms part of the art collective known as The Merger, and Stewart has produced sculptures for a wide selection of artists.

“Our specialty is working with bronze, aluminum and stainless steel — which we execute through the process known as “lost wax” — as well as marble sculptures,” said Stewart. “But we also do restoration works. Aside from that, we work on sculptures that are created by welding different pieces together.”

The projects worked on at the foundry also include resin, ceramics, the slicing of metal with water pressure and the enlarging or reduction of the size of a sculpture.

“We’re equipped to work on monumental projects such as works that will be exhibited in large or public spaces,” said Lopez. “We’re currently working on a project for an urban space.”

The foundry doesn’t limit its work to Miami. It also provides a packing and shipping service for artists in other cities and states. The foundry also offers to work from sketches and mock-ups.

“Sometimes artists don’t obtain their desired result,” Moleiro said. “Their vision might not be executed in the way they wanted it to be, so we can help by creating the work from a drawing or model.”

The foundry, at 4589 SW 74th Ave., has eight employees and four different yet complementary workstations. There is no hierarchy among the stations, and an employee can move between them if need be.

The first is a heated area where the molds that are to be cast in wax, as well as the refractory molds, are made. A second space is dedicated to casting and polishing, and includes a furnace for refractory ceramic molds and another for melting bronze and aluminum. Each furnace can hold up to 300 pounds, but assembly of a furnace capable of holding 825 pounds is underway. An oven intended for de-waxing is also in the works.

“There’s a third station which exists as a space for multiple uses: It serves as a gallery to showcase sculptures and also as a conference room for meetings in which we can discuss future projects or show videos highlighting the different stages of the foundry process,” said Moleiro. “The fourth space is an adjacent open area that is used to work on resin and marble sculptures as well as on foam prototypes.”

Clients find R.U.N. through recommendations from other artists, art promoters, gallery owners and those who have watched the collaborative effort of the professionals who work there. Artists Roberto Fabelo, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Alexandre Arrechea, Jose Bedia, Ramon Alejandro, Carlos Quintana and William Carmona have put their art works in the hands of these smelters.

In a city like Miami that boasts such a heavy arts calendar, the foundry’s only aspiration is to attract the attention of all those individuals involved in the creative process.

“We want sculptors, gallery owners and institutions found in other latitudes to order their artworks from their countries,” said Lopez. “This way, they can avoid expensive packaging and shipping fees and can be on time for the different art events taking place. But what’s most important for us is protecting the work of the artist.”