Jean and Mark Oberkirsch, a St. Louis, Missouri, husband-and-wife metal-arts team, are again presenting works at the 39th annual Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival in Breckenridge this Labor Day weekend.
“We’ve been doing Mark Beling’s shows since the early 1990s,” Jean Oberkirsch said. “We knew Mark and Judy (Pollock) when we were doing shows together in Ann Arbor (Michigan) and the Midwest back in the ’70s and ’80s. We like his shows. They have good quality, and Mark does a good job of running the shows and getting out good publicity.”
The couple usually has a booth at all three summer Mountain Art Festival shows in Breckenridge. Part of the reason is the mountain weather.
“The weather is our most favorite thing about Breck,” Mark Oberkirsch said. “Summers in St. Louis are usually hot and muggy. We love the people that come by the show because they are usually upbeat and enjoying the mountains. Most are on vacation or at their second homes for a relaxing retreat from the daily grind.”
The Oberkirsches’ metalworking hobby became their livelihood in 1976. After years of working with metal in a variety of jobs such as fabrication for sculptors and metal-shop work, Mark Oberkirsch decided it was time to take his love for metal to a new level — creating beautiful pieces of inspired art. Jean Oberkirsch joined him in the effort several years later, and today their work takes them to festivals and clientele all over the United States.
Self-taught, their creativity leads them into developing new skills and techniques. The Oberkirsch style now focuses on contemporary Southwest designs. Inspired by their love of the region, their current work is a contemporary construction of copper and handmade papers with accents of beads, cording, fetishes and metals.
Each piece is made of hand-tooled copper, designing the works from the back by drawing the design and then turning the metal over and finishing the surface with color. They use hand-painting and metal leaf in their copper creations, combined with a variety of handmade and metallic papers. The Oberkirsches then embellish the pieces with other objects and metals. All of their art is showcased under glass, with a shadow-box textured frame, complementing the copper art.
You can visit the Oberkirsches, and more than 120 other local and national fine artists, at the 39th annual Gathering at the Great Divide Mountain Art Festival in Breckenridge, Saturday, Aug. 30, through Monday, Sept. 1.