Artist at Savage Mill is going with the flow


Yos Belchatovski never commits anything to paper.

As an artist and the owner of Exotic Water Sculptures in Historic Savage Mill, Belchatovski has built a steady clientele of those seeking something unique. And though some artists need to sketch and revise their ideas, designs flow from Belchatovski as effortlessly as the water that sometimes graces his creations.

"I see a mental picture and then I turn it around and around in my mind," Belchatovski said. "Once you put it on paper, it stops evolving."

For the past six years, Belchatovski has resided at the Mill, sculpting and shaping metal into birds, dolphins and anything else that his imagination could conjure. The son of concentration camp survivors, Belchatovski immigrated to the United States from Israel in 1970.

"I came as an exchange student with a little over $100 in my pocket," he said. "I came into New York and then I went to Los Angeles to become a student at Long Beach State."

The lure of the road beckoned, and Belchatovski took up with a group of 30 artist families who traveled the country in motor homes under the name "The World of Art." Belchatovski -- who had always "played around with art and metal" -- said the group was popular at malls and enjoyed the company of residents eager to see the show and meet the artists.

"It was a wonderful way to see the country and show my art," Belchatovski recalled. "It was right off the hippie days and everything was casual."

He and his wife, Karen, an artist who specializes in mosaics, came to Maryland in 1985 and settled in Severna Park, where they have lived since 1987. Belchatovski said he enjoys being in Historic Savage Mill, which houses other artisans and antiques shops.

"It's a nice space," Belchatovski said. "We have the store up here, and my studio is downstairs."

In his studio, Belchatovski fires up brass, copper and bronze to sculpt images such as "The Passing of Music," which features a saxophone and the movement of birds, and "The Tree of Life" -- with flowers, water lilies, an olive branch and birds. The creations are then sealed with resin to protect them.

"All of my pieces are named and have birth certificates," Belchatovski said, smiling. "Every single piece is one of a kind."

The most popular sculptures are all wet. Belchatovski often incorporates running water to give movement and symbolize life, rebirth, renewal and optimism.

It was the soothing sounds of water that captured Jerry Sinay's attention. The engineer has ordered a sculpture for his Columbia home that will show a big angel fish with reeds, smaller fish and two paths for water to flow.

Sinay said he has been a longtime admirer of Belchatovski's work but had put off a purchase because he didn't have the space for the sculpture.

"We are putting in an addition to the house, a 14-by-32-foot family room, and that's where we are going to put the fountain," Sinay said. "I don't think I've ever seen a piece of his that I didn't like. He's an artist who is really into the aesthetics of the work."

Paul A. Fast hopes to receive delivery of his sculpture -- a blue herring with reeds and cattails flowing into a reservoir -- within the next few weeks. The retired Army officer, who lives at Fort Meade, said he and his wife like to collect mementos from the areas where they have resided.

"It's nice when you can find something unique," Fast said. "I've never seen anything like it."

Belchatovski has sold his sculptures to corporations and private collectors. The possibilities for his creations, he said, are endless.

"I enjoy what I do and I love talking to people," he said. "I draw my inspiration from everywhere."

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