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Heavy Metal Art

Paul Petersen is a local talent on Whidbey Island who specializes in what he calls “Scrap Metal Art Sculpting.” This art form, which relies heavily upon discarded parts of automobiles, has resulted in a rich repertoire of pieces by Petersen that includes people, animals, bird feeders, clocks and modes of transportation.

Anyone viewing his work for the first time marvels at his creativity, attention to detail and the varying subjects he likes to include in his work. It’s also hard to overlook the touch of humor he likes to add, a touch that can be noted in pieces like “Geary Garcia” and “Man’s Thinkin’ Place.”

Petersen, who used to be an enlisted structural mechanic attached to VAQ-129 working on EA-6’s, always knew that he wanted an occupation that had something to do with artistic expression. It was after he learned welding while working in restoration that he was able to achieve this goal. An ingenious combination of welding, mechanical expertise and artistic instinct yielded the work he makes his living selling today.

Petersen can recreate most any tangible item in life by simply sifting through the pieces that normally make up a carburetor or an engine. What’s more, he can normally give birth to this artistic creation in a matter of hours. Petersen says it’s easy for him.

“This type of art has made me very familiar with most car parts,” he said. “I once took apart a transmission and was amazed at the components. To me a gear looks like a head and a spring looks like a tail.” Petersen has presently completed 100 creations and is open for suggestions.

“The Geary Garcia (named so because he’s made from gears) idea was suggested to me by a friend who was really into The Grateful Dead. I also made a Harley Davidson with my friend’s son on it just because I know his son likes Harleys.”

Petersen says his goal is just to make people laugh and smile with his art, but he would eventually like to get into doing more commissioned pieces. His metal sculptures, often on display at the ‘Two Moons Gallery on First Street in LaConner, can be obtained in some cases for as little as $75. These novel creations are already collector’s items for many islanders.

To view more work from this local Whidbey Island talent, visit his Web site, www.uponarock.com.

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