As all the best projects do, my intention to knock together a simple, whimsical sculpture for a charity auction got completely out of hand and wound up leading in directions I’d never imagined.
Prescott Creeks, our local watershed/creek preservation organization here in Central Arizona does some awesome work, including an annual, watershed-wide cleanup that pulls tons of detritus out of our creeks. A few years back, local artists were casting their eyes longingly on all the wonderful found objects that were headed to the landfill, and the organization cooked up a fundraising idea: get those artists to pick over the cool stuff, make art, and sell the resulting pieces at auction to raise money for the organization. I’d made knives and other forged bits out of good pieces of steel that came in with the trash, but for 2015 I wanted to do something a little more in the found object sculpture spirit. I saw an old Honda gas tank, and somehow envisioned from there a Hopi corn dancer meets St. Francis of Assisi. Add a pair of Moto Guzzi exhaust pipes, a 1960s era VW Microbus steering column, a Rick Hartner bird, and a few other bits and pieces, and the result was about twice as tall as I’d originally planned. And, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t quite sure what I thought about him.
Once this desert wanderer was out in the wild, it seemed that people reacted well to him. He wound up in the front window of one of our town’s best galleries, and on the cover of our local arts news magazine.
Even better, the auction was a big success, and led to a phone call from the folks who were runners-up in the bidding on the sculpture. They commissioned a similar piece – that, like it’s predecessor, got completely out of hand. In a good way.
Instead of a free-standing sculpture, we found a neat spot nestled in the granite boulders on their property, where the figure would look like he was walking through a gap in the rocks. He’s not really visible when you drive up to the house, but when you’re leaving down the steep, curving driveway, I guarantee you’ll look one another in the eye!
Getting him into position was an all-day wrestling match, including finding good, solid rock onto which I could bolt his sandals, and welding each and every joint into a natural looking position, from the ground up.