Metalwork sculpture made of repurposed cutlery wins people’s choice award

Don Schoefeld's piece was chosen for the people's choice award this year. (Photo courtesy Mann Art Gallery)

The winner of the 2021 Mann Art Gallery Winter Festival people’s choice award says he’s “flattered” his piece was chosen.

The gallery announced the 2021 winner of the Guy Rutter Memorial Award Monday. Don Schoenfeld’s metalwork piece, The Hunter, which depicts an own spreading its wings and is made, in part, out of various pieces of cutlery, took home the prize.

“I think that’s the award for any show that I think has the most significance for an artist,” Schoenfeld, who’s from Saskatoon, said Tuesday.

“It’s really flattering, it truly is.”

The piece also turned the head of a buyer who saw the piece during the opening reception and contacted the gallery to purchase it.

“Just the fact that lots of people voted it for the award is really exciting, and then someone buys it and that’s even more exciting,” Schoenfeld said. “There’s actual value in our work. People see value in it.”

Schoenfeld worked professionally as a millwright and welder, so when he retired he started creating sculptures out of recycled materials from work and things he found at garage sales.

“I started experimenting with making shapes, and started with birds,” he said. “Sometimes I’m not quite sure how things are going to go together. You just get a picture in your mind of what you would like to build and then you try to find the stuff that’ll make it work and away you go.”

The Hunter was created over several weeks, Shoenfeld said. He likes to work for about four to six hours each day on his pieces.

In addition to being a popular piece of art, show curator Heather Benning commented on its technical craftsmanship. A sculptor herself, Benning remarked that the piece was so well assembled that the welds were difficult, if not impossible, to find unless you were really looking. She also commented that the piece read well and looked good from all angles.

“It clearly was a favourite for many, many people,” said gallery curator Marcus Miller.

“How could you not be impressed with this spectacular sculpture? It’s not only interesting because it’s made from all of this cutlery that’s been repurposed, but it‘s beautifully crafted. It’s very, very well made, You can even be impressed with it on that level.”

 Schoenfeld said he has entered the show before, but almost didn’t this year. It was his wife, Sharron, who also took home an award from this year’s exhibition, who convinced him to enter a piece.

“We have a bit of fun with each other and tease each other,” Don said.

“When she won an award and I didn’t at first she was teasing me, so now it’s my turn to tease her back,” he joked.

With the naming of the people‘s choice award, this year’s winter festival show came to a close.

Artists are in the process of picking up their artwork, and the gallery is preparing for its next exhibitions.

The 10th Annual High School Juried Art Show will debut on April 9 in the project space and education studio, while the main gallery will next play host to Carol Wylie: They Didn’t Know We Were Seeds, set to open on April 16. Both of those shows run until May 29.