Skilled with welding tools in his family’s business workshop, Dale Rogers shifted from welder of broken equipment to welder of art.
He became a metal sculptor to supplement his work at the family company, Rogers Spring Hill Farm in Bradford, where he welded broken equipment.
“And it just went from there,” Rogers said of his successful metal art career.
His hometown of Haverhill is home to two well-known pieces of his work — the “River Path’’ contemporary art structure in Washington Square and the “American Dog’’ at the edge of Interstate 495 south, near the Ward Hill Connector.
The dog, 20 feet long and 16 feet tall, is made from welded Cor-Ten steel stands. The “River Path’’ piece developed from conversations with city fathers and money from the Team Haverhill civic organization.
Rogers wanted to bring modern art to Haverhill. After college, he traveled and saw what art does in other communities across the country.
“When modern sculpture really develops in a community, you can see it gain momentum, especially when the political powers start to realize that art is creating a better community,” he said.
“I realized that Haverhill was underdeveloped in modern art,’’ he said. “Although it has same great sculptural pieces, one of my favorites being the Hannah Dustin statue (in GAR Park), it really didn’t have anything modern.’’
Rogers worked in conjunction with Team Haverhill, which wanted some unique art work for the downtown.
“They wanted a modern abstract piece of sculpture to be placed on the newly built boardwalk behind the restaurants and stores on Railroad Square and Washington Street,” Rogers said.
But he wanted to display the piece in a very public venue, and chose the Washington Square location in front of the bus station. The project organizers hedged on the location, worrying that graffiti and other vandalism might mar the sculpture.
That did not happen, and Rogers’ sculpture has stood tall in the square.
“What was discovered is that not only has it enhanced the appearance of the bus station, but its presence gives a sense of a safer, more tight-knit community space, which will have a positive economic overflow,’’ he said. “People develop pride in their environment when they are surrounded by creative pieces.’’
Rogers conceived the design and built the 12-foot-tall structure from Cor-Ten and stainless steel. He chose those two metals to give the structure contrasting finished look. While the stainless steel stays clear, the Cor-Ten steel rusts and acquires copper tones.
Rogers sees community art as a way to highlight a location’s strengths and bring enthusiasm to the people who work, live and visit there.