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Suisun in the News

06 Oct 2010

Suisun Valley Sculptor Featured as 'American Artisan'

Farm Artist

Phillip Glashoff forges love of art with rural living

Amid a shower of sparks inside his farm-inspired art studio in Suisun, Calif. (pop. 26,118), sculptor Phillip Glashoff, 60, wields a hand-held blow torch to weld two ball-bearing eyes onto a foot-long iron fish fashioned from a motorcycle’s exhaust system.

Flecks of molten iron fly through the air inside his barnlike studio while, outside, cattle graze near an orchard of orange and walnut trees.

“I grew up farming,” Glashoff says of his 20-acre homestead in northern California. “When I get burned out, the land draws me back and keeps me grounded.”

Raised on a 300-acre farm owned by four generations of his family, Glashoff began using rusty metal from old tractors and other outdated equipment on the property to create his art during the 1980s. “My father never threw anything away,” recalls Glashoff, who eventually ran out of materials and began hauling in discarded metal with his pickup truck.

“Junkyard owners love me. I buy things nobody wants,” he adds, scanning a jumble of broken bicycles, assorted car parts and empty fire extinguishers in his workshop. “Everything’s recycled.”

Glasshoff’s studio is surrounded by green, rolling hills where his parents, Martin and Elsada Glashoff, raised apricots, pears, peaches and corn, and sold homemade pies and cakes at a roadside stand. When they died in 2000, his younger brother, Larry, took over operation of the farm to grow berries and prunes. Phillip retained for himself enough land to cultivate art and tend to a small herd of Scottish Highlander cows and a Great Dane, Gustav. Some of his metal works—fashioned into giant guitars, pink panthers and cartoonish trombone players—dot the land.

Glashoff considers himself more artist than farmer, even though he “had zero knowledge of art growing up,” he recalls. “I studied agriculture (at California State Polytechnic University) and learned welding making frames for Rose Bowl floats.”