Reclaimed junk finds new life in Park Rapids sculpture garden

Whether shaped like people and animals, or just to as an arbor-arch to enter the viewing area, Clayton Johnson’s sculptures show that things people throw away may still have life in them.

The materials Johnson used are leftover items from area thrift stores. He spent a year and a half creating his sculptures before they were installed last September.

“All the materials were gathered, donated,” Johnson said. “They’re things that didn’t sell at Salvage Depot or at the Tin Ceiling or Bearly Used. They’re all things that they had on the shelves for a while, or they didn’t see that they could sell, and they were all in a big dumpster.”

To start, he took the whole receptacle home and started “dumpster diving,” asking himself, “How am I going to put all this stuff together?”

Clayton Johnson's scrap metal characters, made from donated items that the Hubbard County DAC couldn't sell, include a Native American inspired figure and a person walking a pet. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

Clayton Johnson’s scrap metal characters, made from donated items that the Hubbard County DAC couldn’t sell, include a Native American inspired figure and a person walking a pet. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

The arbor-arch was one of the first concepts that came together, he said, because he wanted a contained area that people could enter and experience the things around them.

Then “they showed me the school bench, cast iron pieces that were all rusty and corroded,” he said, pointing out a seat in the area. “I cleaned them all off. It’s reclaimed wood that we put on there.”

A rule he set for himself was “to try to keep things as intact as possible,” he said. “I could have cut the metal up into little pieces and built an absolutely perfect form, but that wouldn’t show what this place is. So, I tried to reuse things in a way that you can say what it is, what it’s from.”

For example, he found a hand-truck that had been cut in half and discarded, thinking, “This could be a torso. Then I thought, what am I going to use for feet or legs?”

Clayton’s wife, Laura Johnson, is the executive director of the Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center. She said it has been fun to watch and listen as people visiting the sculpture garden react to the images they discover.

The kneeling figure on the left has spark plug eyes, saws on its back, a shovel head, and jumper cable clamps for hands. The "barbecue ninja" next to it was built out of kitchen items, including a hibachi grill. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

The kneeling figure on the left has spark plug eyes, saws on its back, a shovel head, and jumper cable clamps for hands. The “barbecue ninja” next to it was built out of kitchen items, including a hibachi grill. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

She called turning old things into something new “a big part of our program.”

Besides giving surplus items a second life, Clayton said, “It also goes that step beyond and lets you use your imagination and think, ‘What could it possibly be?’”

He talked about “trying to give (the sculptures) character, like they’re looking somewhere,” or like a humanoid figure is holding a leash and walking something that “doggish type of figure.”

“People can use their own imaginations,” Laura said. “He didn’t make it so that it’s obvious. They can establish what they want. But he

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Mindful Decor, Reclaimed Wood Furniture and Doors

Mindfulness is a state of calmness, being grounded, and being aware of your existence in the present moment. An old world practice arising from Buddhist and Hindu principles, mindfulness is a great part of the wellness culture that rules the modern society. Mindful decor is inspired from earthing, grounding woods and simple lines, natural fabrics and clean simple lines favoring uncluttered spaces.

Mindful decor begins with a simple principle that everything serves a purpose. Home decor that connects you to your roots or contributes to your home in a positive way. Handmade and rustic wood credenzas brings in good energy, and antique chakra carved cabinets draw in the energy of the sun.

Consider the function of the distressed teal credenza which serves as a statement media chest, the blue medley of colors and the grounding nails that take out the harmful ions and ground them to earth through the solid wood. Not only is it practical, and gives you a lot of storage but is handmade from old reclaimed woods that are reused and repurposed into beautiful furniture.

Reclaimed woods and handmade furniture cultivate a mindful space, and balance your home, are functional and bringing good energy. Being mindful of your inner self you meditate on your daily chores, and having a dedicated meditation space will help clear the mind and give you focus to know your inner self.

A stunning wall sculpture of Buddha carved in rustic natural woods or a colorful Krishna fluting, playing the music of life and giving you direction as you look into his peaceful serene eyes, the carvings call upon you to be mindful in your thoughts and actions. Cascading water in the nearby fountain with crystals scattered add to your serene mood.

Add color by thinking of your favorite place. The dark green of a lush rain forest or the endless blues of the ocean, the stunning bright sunlight or the glowing embers of a bonfire, colors that bond with your aura and permeate your being. Find these colors in the tribal spice chest with mirrors that is perfect for the hall or as an entry table. A mindful home sees beauty in every corner of the house. Soft and breezy sari curtains that allow sunlight into your home are playful and accent the colors of the spice chest. A large chai table made from old doors which still has remnants of old paint, patchwork sari pillows scattered around on the floor and a handloom cotton throw! Picture perfect and nourishing decor. Be mindful in thought and action!…

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