Most first-time viewers of John Spofforth's sculptures think the structures are about to tumble to the ground. Their curving mortar joints and gravity-defying lines make them look like they're being shaken by an earthquake. But nothing could not be further from the truth. Spofforth's unusual veneers and freestanding pieces simply give the impression of dramatic movement by the nonlinear way they are laid. Undulating brick courses replace horizontal ones. Bricks jut out at odd angles. And mortar joints are tooled to emphasize shadow and intensify a sense of movement. The results are structural sculptures that stop passersby. Whether in the form of chimneys, wall veneers or ponds, they create lasting impressions. Spofforth describes some of his work as "structural expressionism." He gets inspiration from such things as an old woman's gnarled hand, the brain, the surface of the moon, the movement of mercury, moonlight on the sea and "experiences." Then Spofforth conveys them in the way he lays the brick and tools the mortar. How does he know how? He trained as both a mason and an artist. This is how Spofforth knows how to express himself in a structure without compromising its integrity. "Building is second nature to me; I know what not to do." Spofforth began laying brick in more traditional forms in 1948, a full 20 years before he created his first brick sculpture. After several years of plying his craft in Iowa, he continued to lay brick for an additional four years in the Navy's construction battalion (the Seabees). But Spofforth's creativity eventually came to the fore and he felt compelled to take up photography, drawing, painting and design. He moved naturally on to structural brick sculpture in 1968. Prompted by a sculpture instructor at Ohio University, where he was studying for a master of fine arts degree, Spofforth created his first brick sculpture for a new Art Park. It was an assembly of brick with small ornamental chimneys sprouting from it. "I try to build on a classical basis of proportion and use irregular props as a contrast," says Spofforth. This first foray into structural sculpture was followed quickly by another. Spofforth started on a tall fanlike structure (to hide dumpsters behind Ohio University's art department) that looked like it was out of proportion with the building. Unfortunately construction halted over a dispute and the project stands unfinished to this day. After creating these first two pieces, Spofforth picked up his stride and became prolific in brick for the next 20 years. In fact, between 1978 and 1985 he receive 12 artist's awards from the National Endowments for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council for "having transformed the common materials of brick and mortar into an aesthetic medium." Most of his pieces dot Ohio's landscape, which is quite fitting since this is the state where he started to sculpt structurally. House veneers, fireplaces, store fronts, free-standing walls and "play forms" (climbing structures for children) all attest to his unusual talent. The Unitarian Fellowship in Athens, Ohio, and its outside altar (called "The Window") effectively show the scope of his talents. He built the block shell in 1969 and started with the brickwork in 1970.