Jake Balcom has been creating metal art through his shop Mettle Design for the past 11 years. Relying on his passion for organic forms found in nature, Jake combines old world techniques, new age technology, and metal’s natural malleability to create unique site specific pieces. An underlying principle behind most of Jake’s work is the interaction of the art with its surrounding environment including the people viewing it. He prefers to view his art as something that should be touched and physically interacted with during the course of everyday life and he uses fluid, organic forms, layers, and textures to entice people to come closer and interact with the work. As a result, most of Jake’s work ends up as furniture, lighting, railings, and outdoor sculpture.
Mediums: No specialty noted.
by Jake Balcom
Location: Mid-Town; 6005 Underwood Avenue
Owner: City of Omaha
Additional Information: The sculpture was commissioned by the Dundee/Memorial Park Association with a gift from an anonymous donor. The artist chose the name Ascension because it felt like the sculpture was still evolving and it would keep growing larger and larger, rising to a monumental state.
by Jake Balcom
Mediums: Stainless Steel
Location: Downtown; 1115 S. 7th St.
Additional Information: The sculpture was funded by a donation from Bluestone Development and their developer partner, the Caniglia Family. It was commissioned by The Homeowners Association of the Towns of Little Italy through a design competition. Residents initiated a call for entries, based upon a vision to commemorate the unique history of the neighborhood, one of the city's oldest. Residents selected the artist, Jake Balcom, from among entries and worked in committee to select a site and refine an appropriate sculpture. Balcom came up with an installation that is distinctly Italian. In fact, several Italian family restaurants (such as Caniglia's) formerly defined the social life of the neighborhood. Balcom has represented the feel for The Towns' neighborhood at 7th and Pierce, which seemed very fun, friendly, and close to each other, much like a family. Balcom kept coming back to the idea of a big Italian family sitting around a table eating dinner, everyone talking about their life or how their week went, laughing and enjoying the company. ”With this in mind I went down to one of our local Italian restaurants for some research/inspiration and as I was eating my favorite pasta dish there I looked down and caught myself twirling my pasta around my fork and instantly knew that this would make a fun and dynamic sculpture that would represent both the Italian heritage and the playfulness of the neighborhood as well as pay homage to the Italian restaurant that used to occupy the lot. As for the name, I finally decided on 'Stile di Famiglia' or 'Family Style' which is in reference to a restaurant serving style where food is served to guests in the same way you would at a big family dinner. I feel it represents the vibe of both the neighborhood and sculpture wonderfully and gives a nice nod to the Italian heritage in both the language and meaning”. In 2011, homeowners funded illumination of the piece.