Wander off the beaten path to discover an art gallery without walls at the Clinton Community College Bickelhaupt Arboretum during Arts at the Arb
2021. The 6th annual Arts at the Arb
will feature metal artist Ron Meador. Meador enjoys repurposing all kinds of old rusty farm tools and metal materials. He created his unique exhibit of pieces for Arts at the Arb
2021. The CCC Bickelhaupt Arboretum is located at 340 South 14th Street, Clinton, Iowa.
Artist Ron Meador shared how he became an artist stating, “I grew up working on my Uncle’s farm. I remember watching him fix broken farm machinery and thought it was interesting. He inspired my work ethic which I credit him for to this day. I enrolled in the vocational welding program my Junior and Senior year in high school. I got a job at a welding fabrication shop right after graduating from high school. I worked as a welder there for 13 years. I learned how to weld steel, cast iron, stainless and aluminum. Also how to read blueprints to build all kinds of projects. During that time I started making small sculptures periodically. I became a truck driver for 36 years, owning 6 trucks and maintaining them created a lot of truck parts that I saved to make things with someday. I had a vision to collect all kinds of things so when I retired I could support my hobby of making sculptures. During that time I went to sales and accumulated anything I thought looked like I could transform into worthy art form. People started bring me junk. I would make them something to thank them.”
When asked about his early artwork, Meador continued, “I was at a sale years ago where I had bought all kinds of shovels and rakes and a lady came up to me and asked me what I was going to do with them. I told her I was going to make birds out of them. She told me that her late father owned them and she was there settling the estate sale. She asked if I could make her something for her and her sister out of them and she would pay me. I couldn’t say no. She lives on her father’s farm now and I drive by and those birds I made are under a tree in the yard. That is what yard art should be, a reflection of the past with a good story for the future.”
Meador collects stuff for future projects, and people give him their stuff for his pieces. “People like to know what some of the parts are that I make things out of and I can generally tell them what or where the junk came from. I hope I live long enough to use all my rusty junk. I’ve got my work cut out for me but I enjoy every minute of it. I have had people tell me my sculptures have personality. I made a cat for an older lady that was living with her son and she sent me a letter telling me that the cat encompassed every cat she had over the years. She named the cat Rusty.”
Meador shared this memory, “I made a variety of sculptures for a lady that lost her Dad a few years back with junk she collected from her Dad’s sale. Those are the ones that I take a special pride in making. I make about everything that my junk inventory lets me make: Birds, Vultures, Dogs, Cats, Frogs, Tractors, Trees, Bushes, Motorcycles, Turtles, Bird houses, Gates, Herons, Bird baths, Golfers, Flowers, Fish, Owls, Deer mounts, etc.”
The Clinton community is fortunate to have an annual art event that brings unique art into our lives in such an accessible way. Clinton Community College President Brian Kelly commented, “Arts at the Arb is a great time to be outdoors and celebrate the beauty of art and nature together. This is an amazing opportunity to experience the Bickelhaupt Arboretum
Art work for Arts at the Arb will be showcased from August 1 through August 31st
. In the previous years, more than 5,000 people per year have wandered through the public display. Past exhibiting artists include Terry Rathje, John VandeWalle, Kristin Garnant, Jean Black, and v. skip willits and Robyn Smith. These artists have exhibited unique sculptures, portraits, and paintings throughout the arboretum grounds, encouraging visitors to wander the 15 acres looking high and low to enjoy the works.
Clinton Community College Bickelhaupt Arboretum showcases over 2,000 different tree and shrub species in its many plant collections. The 15 acre, manicured grounds located at 340 South 14th Street, Clinton, Iowa are open to the public from dawn to dusk. Come and enjoy nature at its best. Call the Bickelhaupt Arboretum at 563-242-4771 or visit www.eicc.edu
for more details.