Across the parking lot of Foellinger Theater and under the gaze of Tek Venture’s Phoenix parade float, I chatted with local metalsmith and musician, Topher Beyer. We sat on the hood of his Mustang, the sky poised to unleash its heavy humidity on us at any moment. I quickly jump into questions feeling the urgency to finish before the storm hits. Topher is a reluctant artist, but his talent for metal work and fabrication was sought after by Daniel Church, when Fort Wayne HOTC needed a tangible, dimensional logo made for its TRF event. Since he has finished the sign, additional offers from the community have squeaked into his inbox. He seems a bit surprised, and his genuine humility and desire to grow and create shines through. He shyly admits that he’s been overwhelmed by the positive response he’s been shown by the city.
This husband and father of two, fell into metalsmith art and fabrication by starting a job at ETA Engineering in Avilla, IN. He learned to weld and do blacksmith work. Topher loves new ways to work with metal, and by experimenting with different materials on lunch breaks, he discovered a new way to, as he explains, “do art, with a purpose.” I ask if his boss is cool with creativity in the work space, and he happily nods his head “yes”. I ask if I can include that, and he continues, “Oh yeah, they’ve been great, very supportive company. I just have to buy supplies and stuff, but I can try different things and work on projects here, that I can’t do at home.” Speaking of home, Topher’s two sons have taken up the creative flag and are proudly waving it. He excitedly whips out his phone and starts showing off pictures of his boys, six and seven, excitedly making and selling cats, turtles, dinosaurs and flowers. “They draw it out, I cut it and they weld and paint them.”
Art and music have a long tradition in this family. Topher’s mother encouraged him to pursue art by sending him to The St. Francis Summer Art Program and he’s won a Gold Key Scholastic Award. She also sent him to F.A.M.E. Camp and extra art classes offered in town. His mother was a talented portrait artist hobbyist and his grandfather drew cartoons for military publications and newsletters, along with his own hobby of woodworking. Topher’s father, an avid fan of music and an engineer, passed when he was a teen, and after that he really fell in love with creating music. He elaborates on making music and creating metal art as, “my way of feeling close to him… feel like if he was here, we’d be learning together and it would be pretty great.” Topher Beyer is an all-around family man and creative spirit. He also wears his heart on his sleeve as he gushes about his wife when I ask about what kind of colors he gravitates towards, “Oh, I like vibrant colors, my wife is wearing these really bright, vibrant shades of lipstick and they look amazing!” I ask if she gets in on the art, too? “Not really”, he says with a smile, “but she’s the brains behind everything.”
Between working at his home workshop, which includes two welders, two air compressors, a forge anvil and various other tools, and his job’s cutting tools, he is also trying to add some studio space for his musical project The Paper Heart. As he becomes more recognized in the Fort Wayne art scene as a talent to watch, he also finds himself in the local art show world and his hope for Fort Wayne is that it offers more places to showcase a diverse range of art. He knows that new artists are often intimidated by new places and also can feel like a bit of an annoyance to established artists. He’s enjoying the wave of art collectives putting on shows and pop-up shows in non-traditional establishments. He also hopes Fort Wayne art galleries put on more multiple artist shows, because he explains, “it’s incredible how many people know each other and that they are so connected. It’s a great place for art.”
Written By: Chele Heck