|Local man uses love for comic books as inspiration for mosaic artwork
By Emily Patrick
Advocate summer Intern
In a small basement on Main Street, a host of superheroes lay in wait.
They are the creations of Todd Turner, a local artist and co-owner of a Bath County pharmacy.
Turner has loved comic books all of his life, and it all started when his grandmother mistakenly got him a Teen Titans comic book when he had asked her for a Clash of the Titans magazine in 1982. From then on, that was their “thing.” Turner said his grandmother was buying him comic books up until years after he married his wife, Cathy.
“In her house, I would get new comic books, and I would lay them out on a bookshelf and it said ‘Todd and Doris’s Comics’,” Turner said.
Turner was looking for ways to express his love of comic book characters, but found himself unable to draw. Inspiration struck when he and his wife Cathy went to Chicago to celebrate their anniversary.
At the time, on Navy Pier, there was a stained glass art museum and Turner was enthralled by the artwork inside. He realized that this type of artwork was completely subjective, and “you can’t really say if it’s good or bad.”
His first step was to buy some books on mosaics and research the materials he would need. He realized he couldn’t do actual stained-glass windows because of the skills and tools needed for that type of work. So, he decided on mosaics made out of stained glass.
To fund his new venture, his wife went to a yard sale and bought a bunch of old vinyl records. She sold them on Ebay and used the money to purchase the equipment and some glass.
His artwork became his hobby, and his first few pieces were done without a hitch. He never thought of displaying or selling the pieces, but opportunities began to arise.
One such opportunity was that of displaying his artwork at the movie tavern in Nicholasville. Turner had noticed that artists would display or work on their art at movie openings. Turner reached out, and the owner asked him to bring some of his work by, but was unsure about it being displayed. That doubt was reversed instantly.
“He said, ‘I love this, can you come in two weeks,’” Turner said.
Since then, Turner’s pieces have been selected for multiple different conventions and art shows. Most recently, the Kentucky Theatre showed some of his pieces for two months.
Now, Turner’s pieces have been selected to be shown at the Gateway Regional Arts Center in Mt. Sterling. The exhibit, which opens July 5, will coincide with the opening of the newest Spider-Man movie, “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
The timing couldn’t be better—Turner has created a life-size, mosaic glass Spider-Man, which will be displayed to the public for the first time at the GRAC.
The Spider-Man piece was made from a teen-sized store manikin. To get the positioning right, Turner cut the manikin apart and then put it back together.
The Spider-Man is completely covered in glass mosaic, back to front, top to bottom. The piece has bolts in the back side so that it can bolt onto a faux-brick wall and stand upright to resemble Spider-Man jumping from building to building like the character does in the movies. The piece is complete with a web made out of stained glass beads.
Other mosaic glass pieces include Hulk hands, which are hollow and can be worn; Thor’s hammer, “Mjölnir” made out of a tissue box and plaster; Captain America’s shield, made from a mold of Turner’s DirectTV Dish; and Iron Man, a 3D piece that has hands and eyes that light up.
However, Turner doesn’t limit his creations to Marvel characters. He has various DC comic character pieces, including Batman, a Wonder Woman thorax piece and a framed Joker piece, which is Turner’s personal favorite.
Turner also creates other fandom pieces. He’s done works from Doctor Who to Star Wars and Star Trek.
Altogether, Turner estimates he’s done about 25 pieces, but says that number is hard to accurately portray. The pieces require a lot of time and devotion to be completed, but Turner has children and a full-time job, so he works on the pieces in increments.
“Everything has just been a learning process as you go, and if it doesn’t work—then it’s glass right? You just go along and pick a different piece,” Turner said.
Turner hopes that people are inspired by his works of art, and he tries to keep inclusivity in mind when creating pieces. After Black Panther came out, Turner realized there wasn’t much diversity depicted in his creations, so he created a Black Panther piece which was done in February, which is Black History Month. He started working on a Batwoman piece this month—which is coincidentally Pride Month—to represent the LGBTQ community. He says he wants to reach all people through his works of art.
“I believe that God doesn’t give somebody a passion and a talent that he can’t use. So I’m hoping all kinds of people that love comic books, that love pop culture, nerds or geeks or whatever you want to call them, know that if something is broken in the right person’s hands it can become a masterpiece. If they’re broken they can be made whole again,” Turner said.
While he realizes that most people cannot afford $800-plus pieces of art, the pieces are for sale. However, that is not Turner’s main objective. He enjoys showing off his art and talking with fans who share the same passions as he does. He does sell magnets, stickers and posters based off of his works for those who are interested in taking a piece home with them.
In the future, Turner hopes to branch out into other genres and fandoms like anime and Magic the Gathering. For now, Turner continues to work at his own pace and express his passion using various tools and pieces of glass.
Turner’s exhibit “Glass Heroes” will open July 5 at the Gateway Regional Arts Center in Mt. Sterling. The event will coincide with the first First Friday Market and will take place from 5-7 p.m. The pieces will remain on display the entire month of July.
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