“I’ve always been the girl who is all wet, sweaty,” says Anne Marie Simon, owner of Ventura’s Girl Sweat Metalworks studio. “It is very hot work, and moving the metal around, it’s the sweat on your brow. It’s girl sweat.”

Simon has been in Ventura only two years, but she is making an impression on other artists and the public with her unusual metal sculptures. She staged her first show at her studio on June 7, which, along with her own work, also featured that of three well-known local artists. “So it was a show of metal, canvas, stone, and glass,” Simon says.

“I love metalwork, but at this age it is not as easy lugging stuff around,” Simon says. “Some days I wonder why I could not have just painted. It would be so much easier.”

Simon has always followed artistic endeavors, first as a ballet dancer, then as a photographer. She has three grown daughters whom she says have been very supportive of their metal-blasting mom. “All my daughters are very artistic,” she says.

Simon recently went through some emotional times and says her art has been helping her cope. “This past show was after the death of my mother,” Simon says. “It was the cycle of life and how springtime comes back around again — all about love and change.”

The other artists in the show were Michelle Chapin, a stone sculptor; Mike Zelcer, who creates art through reverse glass painting; and Tracy Taylor, a watercolor artist and painter.

Chapin has been supportive of Simon, giving her the chance to display her work at Chapin’s Ventura gallery, Stoneworks Studios, during ArtWalk. Chapin says Simon has real talent. “She uses a lot of color, which most sculptors don’t,” Chapin says. “She is on her way to becoming a master. The show was the hop over the fence, in my opinion.”

Chapin grabbed first place in sculpture at the recent Thousand Oaks Arts Festival. She has been a fixture in Ventura for a long time and is a booster for the arts community. Chapin was quite taken with Simon’s attitude as well as her artistic skills.

“Annie’s got drive. She’s a professional artist. She’s another one of us,” Chapin says. “She’s a liberated woman, like me. When you are a sculptor and you work in rock and stone and metal, it is not traditional.”

“Yet,” she adds, “Annie can put lipstick and a dress on and blow the rest of them away. She is able to take the femininity — that’s who she is — into her metal, which in itself is a contradiction.”

As for Simon’s future as an artist, Chapin says, “It’s going to be very interesting to see where she goes next.”
Zelcer is another familiar artist from Ventura who creates and sells high-end reverse glass paintings. He says selling the pieces is only part of the job satisfaction.

“It is not just being able to sell it, but seeing the looks on people’s faces when they see the visual,” Zelcer says. “It’s a wonderful way to connect with the public, it’s not always what you expect.”

Zelcer says having the show at the studio was important. “I think people enjoy going to the actual workshop and seeing the artist create those pieces,” he says. “It gives them insight into how the piece was done instead of magically appearing in a gallery.”

Zelcer added that Simon worked quite hard at getting the word out about the show. “It was very nice to see that many people come out for a single show in our area,” he says.

Simon was also pleased with the results. “It was fabulous,” Simon says. “We had people all day long coming in and out. It went really well, I’m proud of the whole affair.”

Simon was inspired by the response and has plans for the future. “I’m going to have a show every few months and bring [artists] in,” Simon says. “That way they can know what it feels like to share their art with the world. I want to let people have an opportunity whether they have a large body of work or just two pieces.”   

Girl Sweat Metalworks is located at 3172 Bunsen Ave. Suite D, Ventura, (661) 713-8779. Call for a viewing appointment. For more info, visit www.girlsweatmetalworks.com.