FORGING SPACE: Eric Ober
Jun 02, 2013 02:54AM ● Published by SCENE MAGAZINE STAFF
Developers approached Ober after viewing his metal works at other Houston area parks. Five years in the making, the project was revealed to the public during its grand opening in April of this year.
Originally, as told by Ober, the plaza pieces were supposed to highlight the Orion Program for crewed missions to the moon, Mars and beyond. But, due to budget cuts in the program, the main theme no longer centered on the Orion Program. Ober said, “Some of my original ideas are still a part of the present walk. It’s not so much about Orion anymore.”
The Space Walk entrance helms the largest and seemingly most intricate piece called Earth and Moon to show, as stated on the plaque, “In man’s desire to discover our place in the Universe and explore the unknown, we continue to push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits, and then push further.”
The sculpture path leads to NASA’s second human spaceflight program, Project Gemini and continues to a gravity-defying metal representation of Neil Armstrong descending the Eagle ladder to the lunar surface. Next along the space walk is a Space Shuttle launch complete with billowing smoke painted so well it looks as though the steel replica has lift-off. Metal designs of the International Space Station, the Mars Opportunity Rover end the travel through the space time line. The final forged figure of Buzz Aldrin on the moon stands proud saluting the American flag.
Ober was able to create such large scale and intricate metal designs because of his talent and access to the right equipment. He has been working with metal out of his family’s welding business since he was a kid. “I have access to equipment most artists don’t have the opportunity to work with or afford. It allows me to do big stuff,” said Ober. Large scale commissions have been his main work for the past seven years.
Ober said he discovered his art talent in high school. Ober studied mechanical engineering while in college, but continued art for fun. After college, Ober worked in the oil and gas industry. When he was switched to a new division at work, Ober became unhappy. He explained he needed to be designing and working with his hands again. “I enjoy designing and producing the designs,” he said. Ober’s wife knew he was miserable and asked him what he would do if he could do anything. “Make art,” he replied. His wife told him to “do it.” Ober continues to use his engineering skills in a field he absolutely loves and has been a full-time metal sculptor for the past 14 years.
He stated his degree in mechanical engineering “allows him to create sculptures that appear to defy the bounds of physics.” A mastered talent evidenced at Space Walk Plaza. Ober said he most appreciates seeing the response of people to his work. Ober likes “bringing people pleasure and giving people art as part of their community to enjoy. It’s very rewarding.”
The sculpture garden is located in Nassau Bay’s Town Square at the intersection of NASA Parkway and Upper Bay Road. Ober also forged several metal sculptures in parks around the Houston area. Visit his website for more details and designs at www.oberdesignworks.com.