By Dennis Knowles
July 27, 2020
ORIGINAL ARTICLE >
With a career spanning over 50 years, Don Drumm has become synonymous with the Akron art scene. He is a nationally recognized artist – and a pioneer in the use of aluminum and other metals to create small decorative pieces and large sculptures.
Don Drumm has become synonymous with the Akron art scene. [Tim Dubravetz / ideastream]
At 84, he reports to work every day in black work boots, blue jean pants, shirt, thick black belt and a pocket-protector loaded with pens and pencils. His office is a cluster of two-story cottage style homes painted in bright pastels along with a large commercial brick building that all have a bit of a Willie Wonka feel. He and his wife Lisa opened the playfully decorated compound in 1971, and it is home to his workshop, gallery, retail space and business office.
Don Drumm uses metals to create small decorative pieces and large sculptures. [Tim Dubravetz / ideastream]
Drumm was raised in Warren, Ohio, by a family of metal workers. His dad was a mechanic and his grandfather was a blacksmith. His family was inventive and loved to build.
“My father was very creative. I was around this all the time and I was never discouraged,” Drumm said.
In college, Don studied to become a doctor. When he changed his major to art, his parents were not disappointed, they were elated that he had decided to stay in school and found his passion. Drumm completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from Kent State University. Afterwards, he went on to work at a design firm in Akron while moonlighting at a foundry where he learned about a technique called sand casting. It is an ancient process of creating a mold from a mixture of sand and cement.
“Sand is rammed up around a pattern. The pattern is taken out of the mold and then the piece. The mold is closed up and metals poured in that to duplicate what the pattern shape was. And it's a very simple shape or a very simple technique,” Drumm explained.
Some of Don Drumm's work. [Tim Dubravetz / ideastream]
Drumm produces decorative art pieces for the home along with utilitarian items like bowls, cutting boards and candleholders. He has also received commissions for large sculptures like the 15-foot tall steel and copper “I Promise” statue at the LeBron James’ school in Akron and the aluminum and bronze sculptures inside Summa Health and Portage Path School.
"Fantasy" by Don Drumm at Summa Health in Akron, [Don Drumm Studios]
His work ranges from whimsical to abstract.
“I wanted to I work mainly as a nonobjective artist, which is artwork that draws its inspiration from feelings, from things that may be in your mind,” Drumm said.
As Don looks back on his 50 years creating art, he is looking ahead.
“Every artist has to get to the point where he knows he is done with something. Either he is frustrated and does not want to see it anymore or he feels he cannot do anything more to it without either ruining it or adding nonsense to it. So the next piece becomes the piece that you want to create and go on with. That’s what keeps me going,” Drumm said.