Modern Day Metal Workers
Meet three artists who have made metal memorable.
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People sometimes choose their career path by pursuing a passion, making a necessary change in direction or just finding a calling through simple happenstance. There are no required steps to traverse to land you on the road to professional happiness.
For a trio of men from 417-land, working with metal for a living just came naturally. It wasn’t specifically pursued with the goal of becoming artists, but that’s what each of them undoubtedly should be called.
DECADES IN DESIGN
Meet one local artist who has crafted a name for himself far beyond 417-land.
TOP OF HIS GAME: Tim Burrows stands with a 15-foot-wide dome created for Top of the Rock.
Anyone who has walked into a Bass Pro Shops location or Big Cedar Lodge and Top of the Rock in Branson has almost certainly seen Tim Burrows’s work and probably didn’t even know it.
That’s not to say that the longtime Springfield artist’s custom metal creations are hidden. They just might be above people’s heads, in the case of the big chandeliers that greet visitors to the Springfield Bass Pro store. But chandeliers are hardly the only pieces that bear Burrows’ touch, as the artist counts railings, gates, lamps, lampposts and signs among his varied customized artistic repertoire that can be found in homes and businesses, including several Disney hotels in
California and Orlando, Florida.
“We’ve done the gamut,” Burrows says. “We are a custom business,” he says of his business, Tim Burrows Metal Art and Design. “So that has taken me all around Springfield, all around Missouri and all around the United States.”
Recalling his early years, Burrows says his work from 1975 to 1980 centered on repairing equipment, ranging from the small (lamps, chandeliers and lawn mowers) to the really big (gates and backhoes). He hired Jay Wood in the mid ’80s, and they became partners in the late ’90s, designing and fabricating metal art, which led to the opportunity to bid on a gate project for Big Cedar Lodge and its founder, Johnny Morris. “We never looked back after that,” he says. “I’ve been lucky enough to be associated with Johnny for, I guess, what has been 30 to 35 years.”
Some of that association included Morris asking Burrows and Wood to start Metal Art Shops in Nixa in the 1990s. Burrows left in 2000 to design and run the metal art shop for Carnahan-White. He stayed there until starting his own business in 2009.
Connections through Bass Pro and later, Disney, have been an undeniable boost to business, Burrows says. “What that provided me was all the architects who ever went through Bass Pro, I became friends with,” he explains. “When you go work at Disney World for one of those projects, you might have 20 architects. Well, we did five Disney hotels, so that’s 100 architects.” Those architects are dispersed throughout the world, and Burrows says he “still get(s) calls from those people, and I’ve never advertised. It’s been a blessing. And I’ve never been busier than I am right now, as far as opportunities.”
Burrows credits other local metal artists such as Bill Toll, Raymond Zerr, Jerry Goodman and Lee Robinson as inspirations to him, while the passion to create art continues to flow in
“I just like creating stuff,” he says. “I just like thinking out of the box and doing something that thrills me. For the most part, I’ve gotten to live off of that. I’ve been lucky to have been around people who let me do my thing. It’s an amazing feeling just to be hired to do what you feel should be done. I consider that a blessing, and I don’t take it lightly.”
HAND-LETTERED: Burrows created these letters for the Hickory Valley subdivision in Springfield.