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Artist Bio

Meet the Artist: Dan Klennert!

  Our little girl

In his hands, old horse shoes are fashioned into gigantic fish and horses. Backhoe teeth become the jaws of a dinosaur and the drive lines of a Ford van become its legs. Articles of scrap metal that once toiled in fields or churned in engines are rescued from the trash and reborn as remarkable sculptures. What society once used and then discarded as junk, Dan instills with dignity and new meaning.

"My love is preserving older pieces of metal that contain some history and were made by the hands of man," Klennert says. "I feel I'm giving new life to the tools and machines that made America what it is today."

Dan Klennert's sculptures, Spirits of Iron, have been displayed all across North America. "Bloodline," his larger than life-size thoroughbred created almost entirely out of horse shoes, and "Cleopatra," a life-size mare welded together from bits of scrap metal, charmed thousands at the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Equine Art Show. "Oscar" the fish eighteen feet long and twelve feet high was the catch of the day at the Salmon Days Festival in Issaquah, Washington. "The Angel from Hell" is a skeleton of a human riding a chopper motorcycle all made from junk. This piece was a big hit when displayed during the motorcycle convention in Sturgis, South Dakota. Other works made by Klennert have been or are currently on display in Santa Fe, NM, Phoenix, AZ, Grand Junction, CO, Salt Lake City, UT, Moab, UT, Portland, OR and throughout Washington state. Proud owners of Klennert's art reside all over the United States and Canada. He says, "I feel that I am giving joy to people and new life to scrap metal through my work. I enjoy what I have created and cherish the materials that go into my art."

Klennert says, "I got started in this career when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was living in Seattle, and I'd take my red wagon and search through neighborhood junk piles. I found great stuff that way and fell in love with 'scrounging', or as we now know it, recycling. In school, I went to class mostly for art on Friday. It was great! I just loved it."

By age 22, Klennert was working as a mechanic and fell in love with old gears, worn out sprockets and various other bent metals. Nothing could suppress his creativity. "The shop foreman showed me how to glue two pieces of metal with a welder, so I practiced welding by creating forms of art out of junk," Klennert says. "I found a way to put together the two things I loved, scrounging and art."

Klennert gets his material for his sculptures from recycling bins, abandoned farms, junkyards and sometimes from fans. He refers to it as "rusty gold". "I visualize my sculptures from the shapes of the rusty junk and go into a kind of creative, emotional trance when in my studio. I have been known to work two days straight and it felt as if only eight hours had gone by."

Dan has realized a dream in the last few years at his four-acre sculpture park located 3 miles east of Elbe, Washington. About this dream come true, Klennert says, "It is a place where my metal offspring can run free and my creative spirit can hang out long after I'm gone."

Klennert's sculptures are fun for audiences, evoking grins and double-takes from everyone who sees them. Adults will delight in his work because they recognize familiar tools and objects reconfigured into something totally new. Children enjoy the fantastical nature of the sculptures. Klennert likes putting smiles on people's faces of all ages.

On the surface, Dan Klennert's found-object sculptures are remarkable for their scale and their realism. Looking deeper, his patchwork skeletons become a lasting testament to the craftsmanship of artisans who made the original objects Klennert incorporates into his art.