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This project took several months from conception to completion. The end product wove together threads of several interests and circumstances, with splashes of serendipity and irony thrown in.
With some pictures and narrative, I'll try to tell the story of how several totally random pieces game together in one place. I hope you enjoy the trip.
"Southwestern Sunflower" drew-from several disparate motivations:
- Inspirations from a far-away antique shop;
- An appreciation for rustic "barn art";
- An old license plate collection that was serving no purpose;
- A strong "reduce, reuse, recycle" creed;
- My favorite flower -- the sunflower;
- A friend's old gate that I replaced;
- Continuous needs for stimulation and creative outlets;
- Most importantly, a valid excuse to use power tools and drink beer.
In 2004, I stopped-off at a little art gallery / antique shop in Alamosa, Colorado. Not sure why. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of quirky stuff in there. One area in particular caught my eye and stayed in my memory... selections from an artist who used automobile license plates as his artistic medium. He sculpted them, painted them, and made dioramas from them. It got my attention because I collected license plates and was always interested in looking at cars and seeing where they were from when I was a kid. It should never have surprised anyone that I ended-up a geography major with a lot of wanderlust since I spent a lot of my childhood drawing maps and collecting coins and stamps and such.
I do have the plates from my first car, but most of the plates in that old box are random and meaningless. I never did anything with them, yet whenever I would downsize through the years, I could never bring myself to get rid of that old box.
Meanwhile, soon after moving into the new house, I decided I wanted to get rid of a row of small arborvitae trees planted along the property line. I had other ideas. My friend Angie just happened to have a spot in her backyard where she wanted a natural screen, and arborvitae had already been planted in the yard elsewhere -- it was a perfect fit. One day during the winter I took four of those trees over there to plant in her yard, and I noticed that the wooden gate was in pretty rough shape. I told her I wanted to build her a new gate (chance to use power tools).
It took me a while, but finally I got around to tearing that old gate off, bringing it home to spec it out, and started building the new one. What would I do with that old gate? The fir planks were in decent shape, and I like that weathered look that they get. I wanted to make further beneficial use of that material.
Did I mention that I like sunflowers??? I used to grow the real big ones as a kid. The kind you have to prop-up because the flower heads get so heavy. We'd harvest most of the seeds, roast 'em, but always leaving enough behind for the sparrows.
I visited Kansas
in 2004. Interestingly, it was the very same trip
on which I visited that art gallery in Alamosa. Kansas is the SUNFLOWER
STATE, by the way. As
you can see, when I
arrived at the state line, I took a run in my
Shockingly, I was greeted by sunflowers and grain silos, but Dorothy was nowhere
to be found.....
surprisingly, the next day I visited the "high point" of the state of Kansas -- the epic summit
of mighty Mount Sunflower.
Note the nice wrought-iron sunflower artwork in the monument. Kind of an
interesting subject for an art piece.....
I even took a gift
with which to decorate the monument, as I sometimes do on these "high
point" visits. What was it that I
left behind? A license plate. How fitting.....
Almost to the day
that I brought Angie's gate home, I was going through the stuff that had been
piled-up downstairs, finally
getting around to sorting some things that hadn't been touched since I moved-in. There was that old box of license plates again. I needed
to either display these things, or get rid of 'em.....
I can be the nostalgic type to a fault. I'm getting better at saying "good-bye" though. I was getting close to saying good-bye to these license plates, most of which I have had for over 20 years but had just taken-up space all that time. Then my mind found its way back to that art gallery. That guy really did some cool things with license plates. Maybe I could do a cool thing with license plates.
Adam's creative juices got going, which often doesn't end well. License plates, old gates, sunflowers... power tools. A vision was hatched.
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