Art doesn’t have to have a name.
It doesn’t have to mean something. And it doesn’t have to be anything.
“Sometimes art is just for the fun,” said Lee Kierig on Thursday afternoon as he watched the newest sculpture come together at the budding art park just north of Hamilton. “If art can create some kind of emotional response from people, then it’s doing its job.”
Kierig is a well-known retired Hamilton architect who designed buildings that now serve as centerpieces in many Bitterroot Valley communities. His creative talents have also been on display in smaller-scale sculptures that recycled old machine parts into pieces that earned him accolades at art shows.
He couldn’t have guessed what that talent was going to bring his way.
It’s about a year since Kierig’s path crossed Mike Massa’s in a local store. Massa — the now-retired owner of Massa Home Center — had something he wanted Kierig to see.
Massa brought Kierig to the five-acre lot that he had purchased on the north side of town. Massa talked about his dream to create an art park filled with large kinetic sculptures. Someday there would be pathways and benches.
Massa had built the first sculpture and he wanted Kierig to design the next one.
“I’ve designed a lot of large buildings, but this was the first time I’d worked on a large scale sculpture,” he said. “It was an amazing thing. Mike (Massa) has always been an artsy kind of guy. He wants to fill that whole area with pieces of art.”
And so Kierig went to work designing a sculpture that would use the wind to make it move. He took his design to Chris Wroble of Chuck’s Welding and the two spent time finding the materials in the shop’s yard.
“That was part of it,” Kierig said. “It had to be made from stuff that was already in the yard. Finding stuff to use is always better than going somewhere and buying it new. We walked around and found the perfect pieces.”
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“He built it the way I drew it up, and he invented some little pieces along the way,” Kierig said. “He was kind of the co-writer for this project.”
Two pieces of flat iron — one welded on one arm and other at the top of the mast — will serve as the windcatcher that will make the sculpture circle and gyrate.
On Thursday, sand was poured into the iron tubes used to create the arms of the sculpture to add weight and balance before it was mounted on top of a column of concrete.
On the nearby hillside, Deana Wolfe watches as the new sculpture slowly comes together in her father’s art park.
“I like it,” Wolfe said. “There are a lot of different opinions about all of this and everyone seems to have something to say. Some people love it. Some hate it. What I know for sure is that it makes my dad really, really happy. That makes me happy too.”
Mike Massa said this all started after he retired.
“I need something to do,” Massa said, with a smile. “I want to do one or two a year.”
Public art is something that can make a community special and stand apart from others. And it can make people think beyond what’s happening in their own lives.
“They can drive by here and look over and see this art,” Kierig said. “They might say ‘what is that?’ ‘What’s that for?’ ‘What do you call it?’
“Art doesn’t have to have a name,” he said. “It’s a personal experience. It can connect with people on an emotional level. It’s about what you want it to be.”
This park at the entrance of Hamilton that may someday be filled with pieces of public art that move this way and that is a gift to the community, Kierig said.
“It’s really a fabulous thing that happening here,” Kierig said.