"If you want to see cool, futuristic settings or the bizarre, it takes an artist to do that," said Chris Truax, owner of the Truax Gallery, which opened April 1 at 816 Main St., in Oregon City.
To walk into the new gallery is to enter a world of clocks with wings, Darth Vader helmets and everyday objects frozen in time.
You can even see Han Solo's blaster, "waiting for the next hero," Truax said.
Once known as an artist who rescued car parts from wrecking yards and incorporated them into sculptures, Truax is now onto something new: fusing/grafting metal onto inanimate objects.
He describes his technique as "carbon casting — like a new-age bronze. I found out how to freeze things like they do in the movies. It's so unique; no one has ever seen this before."
Every piece in the gallery is one of a kind, using a "fusion and freezing process developed over 10 years of trial and error," Truax said, noting that his technique is so new he has applied for a patent.
All the artwork is for sale, from small, framed pieces, to large two and three-dimensional work suitable to hang on the wall, to large, free-standing sculptures for home or business. Prices range from $20 to $20,000. Clients also can commission custom work to fit any budget.
Truax, an Oregon City resident for the past 17 years, said he chose the spot on Main Street for his gallery because the city is "absolutely popping right now, with a vibe that is new and fresh."
He added, "Oregon City is coming alive with a classy feel, [while still retaining] that old-town nostalgia."
In addition, Truax said having an art gallery "brings value to the location."
Some of Truax's pieces are inspired by the "Star Wars" films of George Lucas and the work of H.R. Giger, who won an Academy Award for special effects on the film "Alien."
Nature is key to Truax's artwork, but his art also has "a little flavor of steampunk, and is more Jules Verne," with a twist of Salvador Dali. He uses different kinds of metal to create each piece, including aluminum, steel and copper, and sometimes incorporates highlights of natural wood.
One piece that occupies pride of place in the front window of the gallery is "Lilli," a robot made mostly from recycled parts from vintage Thunderbirds and real goose wings that Truax taxidermied.
"She is my mascot; Lilli represents the beginning," Truax said.
"[But] I've gone beyond car parts, and I'm now doing my own original work. Every piece is signed, dated and numbered," he added.
Another of Truax's favorites is a "guitar shrine" that he created using his grandfather's guitar.
"It was willed to me. My grandfather loved old Western love songs, blues and jazz," he said. "I like to build a shrine around a guitar and then it symbolizes [the musician's] style of music and it becomes something larger" than just an instrument.
Truax moved to Oregon City right out of high school and began taking art classes at Clackamas Community College.
"I fine-tuned my skills at CCC, and the art department there pushed me in a better and practical direction," he said. He also works in media design and graphic design.
Although he currently is a full-time artist, Truax said one of his future goals is to teach, in order to get "people interested in art."
His pieces have been displayed at galleries all over the state, including 903 Gallery in the Pearl District in Portland, where his work was featured alongside a private collection of Salvador Dali's pieces in 2011.
Truax is hoping the residents of Oregon City and other neighboring areas walk through the door of his new gallery.
"My gallery shows people my process. They can come in and together we can create something unique," he said.
Truax added: "I am very approachable. I want to see people come in, understand my work and decorate their house with it."
Art on display
What: The Truax Gallery
Where: 816 Main St., Oregon City
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday