Working in a large warehouse on the eastern edge of Port St. Joe, Alex Henderson strives to master the elements. From redesigning traditional coastal dune fences to be more durable and effective to creating fanciful seascape railings from steel, Alex has the enviable ability to merge utility with creativity and create functional art. Examples of his work can be found in and around regional homes, at WindMark Beach, and at the homeowner’s pavilion on St. George Island.

Alex moved to Port St. Joe from Atlanta in 2002. He dissolved Blood, Sweat and Steel, a company with more than 40 employees, and created Monumental Fabrication, a six-member team. “I wasn’t able to make art (when in Atlanta),” Alex says. “I had to be a disciplinarian. I took a pay cut to move down here, but so what? I enjoy it more here.”

The move has tempered Alex’s work, too. Fish, an octopus and sea horses swim across a railing that will be installed in a private home. Sea oats wave across an aluminum gate. “I like to use artistic principles and techniques in utilitarian ways,” Alex explains. His aesthetic takes items such as fences and railings and transforms them into pieces admired as much for their form as their function.

Along with custom railings and fences, Alex also creates furniture, fountains and birdbaths – pieces where utilitarian items pose as sculpture. “I used to be a specialist,” Alex laughs. “Now I’m a generalist. We’re playing around with all sorts of items here.” Fridays are fun days, when pieces are created simply for pleasure and edification. At the moment, Alex is working on a table, a melding of nature and industry. A slab of cypress sits atop an iron frame that looks as if it were crafted from vines; an iron bird perches on one of the crosspieces. Alex says the material often dictates what it will become in his art: scraps from an iron bench become a trio of crescents, reminiscent of scimitars.

Some pieces are contrived – an idea is sketched out and constructed using metal and fire: two arcs of steel pose gracefully, a dancer in a jeté. A group of open boxes, crafted from aluminum and impossibly balanced on their corners evokes a deconstructed Rubik’s Cube, disassembled by an impatient child.

Alex’s working space is a wonderland for the senses, a playground full of bright sparks and shiny objects. Perhaps it is in his aqua speakers – fountains created to sing in varied tones and textures dependent upon the listener’s position – that his unique brand of art is most apparent. A seamless confluence of utility and grace, they are equally appealing to the mind and soul.


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