Q&A with Jonathan Lyons, artist currently featured at Cherry Alley Cafe

By Heather Hennigan

Contributing Writer

For the next six weeks, Cherry Alley Café will be showing copper and patina art by Jonathan Lyons, College Core Curriculum lecturer and Posse faculty mentor for D.C. Posse Four.

Q: How did you make the pieces in Cherry Alley Café ? What inspired you to do this kind of work?

A: “I love working with copper because it’s so reactive, and because the metal reacts in such beautiful, colorful ways. It’s also quite forgiving as a material for sculpture. The pieces in Cherry Alley are almost all 12″ x 12″ copper sheets. I use a variety of compounds to produce the colors, ranging from vinegar, to a rust/corrosion-inducing compound, to a number of patina compounds designed to work well with and produce specific colors with copper. I also use leaves and other organic materials sometimes because as they react with some compounds, they’ll etch an impression into the copper itself.”

Q: What is your favorite part about creating these pieces, and what is the hardest aspect of the process? 

A: “I love seeing what I can do with this set of tools and a”canvas,” if you will, of copper. Difficult things include when a piece just doesn’t go the way I’d hoped and I have to scrap it–-though I recycle those for other artwork–and working with steel. I haven’t had much luck getting steel to react, probably because that’s just what most people don’t want their steel to do.”

Q: What do you hope people get out of viewing your work?

A: “I hope they’ll see them and enjoy them. The results, when they work out, can be striking. And who knows? Maybe some will want to take a piece home with them.”

Q: How has the reception of your pieces been so far? Are you excited about the display in Cherry Alley? 

A: “People do seem to like them–the people who mention them to me, anyway. I’m glad that Cherry Alley supports local artists and authors. We live in such a small community that I feel quite lucky to have local business and community support for the arts and artists in the area.”

Q: Any plans or hopes for the future with your work?

A: “My wife and I are planning a permanent installation of probably nine pieces in our home. And I’ve been thinking of doing more sculpture. I’ve worked in the past mixing metal art and textual elements, and I have some ideas for doing more of that in the future. I’m always looking for other businesses that feature local art.”

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