Eleven years ago, a story in a local newspaper characterized Elon Ebanks as an artist.
Before that, Ebanks said at the April 30 opening reception of his new exhibit in the Carlsbad Sculpture Garden, “I never considered myself an artist.”
The exhibit, called The Shape of Music, consists of eight pieces of mainly larger-than-life interpretations of musical instruments, including an 8-foot-tall electric guitar, a keg drum, a trombone designed in an X-shape, a violin and a set of chimes.
Made of metal, especially a steel alloy called COR-TEN, which weathers well, the pieces will remain in the garden through December 2012.
Ebanks' life is as interesting as his art work.
Born in Belize and raised on a small Cayman island, he immigrated to the United States after his mother relocated here.
Ebanks' love of the outdoors—most of his sculpture is of the outdoor variety—stems from his childhood on an island only 12 miles long and a mile wide, according to Wikipedia.
As a boy, he rescued and tended baby sea turtles whose sandy nests on the beach were destroyed by storms.
His love of art began early, too.
“I always enjoyed art,” he said. “In the Caymans, every Friday was art day in school.” But he said he “never felt very good” about his efforts.
Ebanks said he got serious about art when he met his wife in 1990. He had made a “little fish” for her, and she liked it, leading him to think he might have some artistic talent after all.
“Once you believe you can do something, it's done,” he said.
He was paid $20,000 for his metal sculpture XING at Melrose Drive and Sycamore Avenue in Vista.
Ebanks spent many days in the Carlsbad City Library reading books on art and especially credits the late Dona Meilach of Carlsbad. Although he never met the prolific arts author, he said “I will have to do a piece to honor her some day.”
Ebanks, who lives in Vista, said he visited a previous art show in Carlsbad and Karen McGuire, curator of exhibitions for the city's , told him “You're next. I like your work.”
“I said to Karen I'd like to do a musical theme one day,” Ebanks said, and the current exhibit of new work was born.
He has a collection of about 15 American-made guitars and can play a bit.
At first, he tried to copy the instruments in his art, but then he said he decided to let his imagination take over, and the result is a bit of whimsy.
The exhibit, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2955 Elmwood St., just north of the , is funded by the Carlsbad Friends of the Arts.