Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Art of Found Objects

An unfamiliar kind of art that really isn't in the main stream of what you might see at the Nasher or some other fine arts museum is sculpting or creating things used from found objects.

One of my favorite artists is a guy by the name of Jon Flaming who lives in Dallas. Jon is an artist of several different mediums and is mostly known for his unusual illustration styles. But for years he's been in and out of barns, abandoned houses and junk yards looking for items that he can make something out of. This kind of art borders on something you might see at Canton Trades Day but Jon has a way of making it a bit more high brow with just a hint of down home thrown in for good measure.

A couple of years ago, I was visiting with a friend of mine here in East Texas who was adamant about me inspecting a barbecue pit being built by Andrew Clyde, a local businessman. Knowing my passion for barbecuing and cooking outdoors in general, my friend used the term "peas and carrots" when describing our common interests and that I should really make an effort to get to know him.

At first glance, Andrew doesn't look like the creative type. In fact, he looks like a guy that
reviews spread sheets all day. And perhaps he does but if you can't find him in his office,
chances are he's in his metal shop creating something from nothing.

The barbecue pit that he designed and created was built using found objects much like
a Jon Flaming sculpture with the exception of being able to spit out pork ribs. I was a little skeptical on how the smoke would flow as well as concerned about the overall size of the fire box. The look of it at the time of construction was like some sort of Frankenstein's monster. Overwhelmed with the size of the entire structure, I became infatuated with trying it out and even though I didn't know Andrew very well at the time, I started to harass him about when he might complete the project.

I was lucky enough to break it in one very cool evening as we slow smoked an entire hog that a friend of ours had captured and cleaned. Once that thing started ginning from the fire box, it laid a really nice consistent flow of heat throughout the unit. The meat was so tender, it fell apart before the knife hit it.

This barbecue pit is more than just a device for cooking. It is indeed a piece of art deserving just as much recognition for the structure as the food cooked off the racks. Like a great artist paints a masterpiece you would hang in a museum, this pit should be parked in the Nasher garden just so art lovers can not only SEE the art, they can EAT from it as well.

Hats off to Andrew Clyde. An artist and great cook all in one.

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