There’s no predicting the exact piece of art that will emerge when Bruce Adamson’s twopound sledge begins working a glowing-hot horseshoe.
The farrier-and-artist, now a featured member at Hoosier Artist Gallery, knows that forged steel and equines, more often than not, have minds of their own.
But Adamson is uniquely attuned to watching a situation unfold and adjusting his plans accordingly: he’s also a Baptist pastor who has followed God’s unexpected plans for his life more times than he can count.
“I just keep a smile on my face and keep following Him,” Adamson said with a laugh. “God strengthens us to do whatever He gives us to do.”
So far, the 67-year-old has been given a lot. Adamson was 13 when his family bought its first horse. He was fascinated watching the farrier form horseshoes on an old coal forge. At age 18, Adamson began learning the trade himself. He fell in love with every aspect of the equine world, and even met his eventual-wife, Sheryl, in 4-H.
After high school, Adamson attended IUPUI and became an X-ray technician.
But at 21, he felt a calling to preach. He began shadowing several ministers over the next eight years, all while working in the field of radiology, as a farrier on the weekends, and while the couple raised three children. At some point, the growing pile of old, leftover horseshoes also inspired him to repurpose them.
“I’ve always slept well at night,” Adamson said with a chuckle.
Though seemingly dissimilar, his careers as a farrier, radiologist, artist, and pastor all were interconnected.
“My office at the hospital often felt more like my ministry office than my church office did, counseling and praying with doctors and nurses who came to me emotional wrecks,” Adamson said. “And when I’m working with the horses, it’s crazy but probably 70 percent of the time, I shoe the horses, and then the clients and I end up talking about the Lord. It’s no different with my art: customers come in to talk, and the fact that I’m an open door to share Jesus inevitably gives me opportunities.”
He’s held church services for groups of neighbors in barns. He’s preached inside saddle club tents to an audience on horseback. He’s even shared his faith with a 4-H crowd sitting in bleachers waiting for another event.
“Your ministry doesn’t stop when you step out of the pulpit. That’s where it begins,” said Adamson, who has pastored four churches throughout his career and is currently working as an assistant pastor at Charity Missionary Baptist Church in Greencastle, where his son-inlaw serves as pastor.
After 44 years in radiology, the Danville resident retired as the director of radiology at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.
But his schedule still remains full—working as a farrier on the west side of Indianapolis, being involved with his grandchildren riding and showing horses, and creating custom horsethemed art in his metal shop.
His creations range from door hangers and coat hooks to a currently commissioned full-scale running horse and anything else his clients can envision. Adamson said he loves meeting with customers, sketching their ideas, and eventually forging them to into life.
“It’s exciting. I love to get to my shop and just get lost in the work,” he said.
Tom Duffy, the Hoosier Artist Gallery’s co-op president, said Adamson’s unique skill and style have made him a great addition to the gallery. Hoosier Artist is a cooperative fine arts and crafts gallery featuring the handmade art of more than 20 southern Indiana artists, whose pieces include photography, glass, pottery, jewelry, painting, gourds, weaving, sculpture, furniture, stone, and more.
New art is juried, and the gallery eagerly welcomed Adamson as a member in February.
“We look for unique work that will stand out to our customers, and Bruce’s work with horseshoes is just phenomenal,” Duffy said.
The gallery’s member artists each work two days per month and occasionally give live demonstrations. Adamson said he loves getting to meet customers while working at Hoosier Artist.
“Not one day have I gone to whatever work I was doing that day thinking, ‘Boy, I’m going to reach a lot of people today,’” Adamson said with a laugh. “It’s just about being willing, able, and ready to be the piece of the puzzle that helps others find Him, whenever and wherever that moment comes.”
For more about Adamson and his art, visit <hoosierartist.com/bruce-adamson>.