Natural work of art: Neighbor full of holiday fun

By Norman Knight

Looking out the window I can just make out through the trees a large rainbow. I believe there is a pot of gold at the end of it. Yes, that is exactly what it is.

Apparently Randy from across the road has been at it again. Sometime in the last 24 hours, he has removed his St. Valentine’s Day piece and replaced it with this latest installation, an homage to St. Patrick’s Day. Another masterpiece from our neighborhood artist.

As were his earlier works, this one is constructed of everyday and natural materials which have become part of the signature style of the artist. Randy’s site-specific works are constructed primarily in straw bales, steel and paint which reflect the rural surroundings. The St. Patrick piece is anchored by a massive round bale spray-painted a soft silver-white and muted green.

Inserted on the top, a welded steel shape on which has been painted a rainbow is arcing toward a dark pot filled with shining gold pieces. In an innovative break from some of his previous works, the artist has utilized green plastic to represent a shamrock which dominates the front face of the bale.

As have the previous works—The Grinning Orange Halloween Pumpkin, The Fat Brown Thanksgiving Turkey, The Jolly White Snowman and The Red Valentine Candy Cluster—this one makes me, my wife and our neighbor smile which one assumes is the point.

Well, at least one of the points. After all, one of the values of an artist’s creation is how viewers can go back to a work over and over to discover new meanings.

Perhaps the rainbow is a statement on our country’s ongoing, contentious issues of diversity. Perhaps the idea of a rainbow revealing easy money is a political indictment of the state’s reliance on lottery revenue, or maybe the dark iron pot clutching a hoard of filthy lucre is a reflection of society’s greedy obsession with wealth.

Or, as a more likely interpretation of the St. Paddy’s object: it’s just Randy having fun coming up with ideas and constructing things.

And as much as Randy is pleased to have the neighbors who live on this road enjoy his homages to the holidays, I will bet the enjoyment he gets from going from concept through crafting to completion is reward enough for him. If you are a creative spirit who also has a need to keep busy, making art is not only something you choose to do, it is something you are driven to do.

Bringing others joy in the neighborhood where you live is not to be taken lightly, however. Call them sculptures or installations; artworks or objects, what our neighbor does is provide a bit of humor, a smidgen of cheer to all of us who drive or walk down this old country road. That’s no small thing.

I am reminded of how people will put great effort in displaying ornate outdoor Christmas decorations as well as fill their front yards with spooky Halloween props. It is the pleasure of giving pleasure to your neighbors and others who drive by.

Randy likes to align his creations with the calendar. After St. Patrick’s Day the next big holiday is Easter. He hasn’t revealed his plans, at least to me, but my guess would be an Easter bunny. It’s natural, it’s rural and the shape of the bale lends itself to several interpretations. On the other hand, some sort of colorful egg motif would work well.

But I’ll leave that to him. He’s the neighborhood artist.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.