ROSEBURG, Ore. – It was just a simple garden hoe with a few extra doodads welded onto it. But the contemplative angle of Jim Lockwood’s creation, along with its title – “The Monk” – resonated with people.
“It was so simply stated, it just kind of blew your mind,” said Aleta McGee, gallery manager at the Umpqua Valley Arts Association. His artwork “has got this dark side, but a quiet humor, and people really responded to that.”
“I look for things with character, something that evokes emotions,” Lockwood said, pointing to the toddler-size cowboy boots, garden rakes and other trinkets, tools, treasures and junk in his shop off Garden Valley Road. “The Monk” was part of a spring show at the arts center, at which Lockwood sold nearly 80 percent of his exhibit. That’s a feat that McGee said puts him up near the top for solo show sales in the association’s history.
With spring almost forgotten, Lockwood is rebuilding his inventory.
Under a steady wave of radio music, he fights the nesting wasps and yellow jackets in sun-warmed metal piles. He’s hunting for the perfect scraps and ideas to “get the full potential out of a piece.”
Music factors heavily into his artwork, with lyrics inspiring a flurry of metallurgic craftsmanship.
Pieces are cut, molded and fused using only an arc welder, lending Lockwood’s art a rustic look.
“A lot of pieces make themselves; all I do is put them together,” he said.
The Roseburg native has been welding his evocative metal sculptures for eight years.
Lockwood started working with metal after tiring of his first medium, reclaimed barn wood.
He made quirky birdhouses and rustic furniture with the wood. The carpentry offered some extra cash between paychecks and a creative outlet for Lockwood, who worked on Umpqua Dairy’s production lines for 22 years.
Over the course of 12 years, Lockwood built up a catalog of 1,200 birdhouses under the business name Barnyard Enterprises.
He was happy to leave that nest and move on to metal.
Jim Baird, a friend and local farmer, offered to let him use a bay in his equipment barn and often donates odds and ends to Lockwood’s collection.
“He knows what I like in terms of junk,” Lockwood said.
As he tinkered around with his newfound medium and tools, Lockwood considered what he would call the new enterprise.
“One day it hit me – Haywire – because it’s out there,” describing the bizarre nature of his creations. “And I use a lot of hay wire,” he said.