“Interview with Dan Klennert – Amazing Iron Sculptor” by Joan Y. Edwards
In July 2017, I had the pleasure of visiting Dan Klennert’s Recycled Spirits of Iron Sculpture Park with my daughter, Lorrie; my sister, Janet; and my nephew, Mike. Oh my goodness! What a treasure we found!
With Dan Klennert’s 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.
I am happy that Dan Klennert agreed to be a guest on my blog today! Welcome, Dan!
Dan: Thank you, Joan. I am glad you enjoyed visiting my park. It’s fun talking with visitors.
You call your park “Ex-Nihilo (pronounced X-Ne-High-Low) Latin words for “Something Made Out of Nothing.” You’ve certainly done that. Here are three of my favorite sculptures at the park:
1. When did you first get involved with art and old wore out items?
Dan: I fell in love with art in Seattle when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I’d sit on the front porch and draw. I’d take my red wagon and search through neighborhood junk piles. I found great stuff that way. I went to school mostly for art. It was great! I just loved it. I find love and respect from my art.
2. Tell us more about how you became the sculptor you are today?
Dan: This is the journey in my life that made me the artist I am today. As a young child I fell in love with art by tracing pictures out of my coloring book. That lead to drawing free hand which I loved to do all through high school.
After high school I went to work as a mechanic and fell in love with the wore out broken gears and sprockets. My foreman showed me how to glue metal together with an arc welder. At that time I put my love for art and my love for wore out metal together and started creating sculpture and at the same time practicing welding. From there I entered in art and craft shows and the rest is history.
3. Why do you create art sculptures?
Dan: I create for the love of art. I get inspiration from the shapes and spirits contained in old metal and driftwood. I see a vision in my mind’s eye as to what certain shapes want to be. Then I use music to put me deep into my imagination to create the vision. I like to think that I’m recycling the spirit of the piece and giving it new life. My love is preserving these older pieces of metal that contain some history and were made by the hands of man. I feel I’m giving new life to the tools and machines that made America what it is today.
4. What kind of music helps get you in the creative mood?
Dan: I use loud rock and roll music to get deep into my imagination and to kick butt in creating a piece. I also like using mellow music for people who view my sculptures because it helps them get on the right side of the brain.
5. Are there books that helped you improve your skills in creating your sculptures?
Dan: I am self taught but I had some help by working with older people and tapping them for their knowledge. I believe I suffer from A.D.D. and never have used books for learning my skill, I do use books for pictures to study shapes and forms of what I am creating.
6. Do you create sculptures for clients?
Dan: I have done commission pieces, but I don’t like doing them because my process is I turn up the music, crawl into my imagination and find a piece of metal that inspires me on what to create. Doing a commission piece I miss out on the foundation of falling in love with the image that a certain shape of metal or driftwood inspired me to create.
7. Are sculptures in your park for sale? What are the range of prices?
Dan: My pieces out in my park are for sale, range is $4500 to $80k.
8. Where do you get your material for your sculptures?
Dan: I get my “rusty gold” material for my sculptures from recycle bins, abandoned farms, junkyards and sometimes from fans. 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, thank you very much for sharing your story and your sculpture with us here on my blog.
Dan: You’re welcome. I hope your blog readers will visit my park soon. I’d love to meet them.
Resources for more information about Dan Klennert:
- To visit Dan Klennert’s Recycled Spirits of Iron Sculpture Park, go to State Route 706 towards Mt. Rainier National Park – 3 miles East of Elbe, Washington. (Admission Price: Donation. Dan’s Gallery (inside) is only open from May through October. The Sculpture Park (outdoors) is open year round.
- Contact information: Mailing Address: Dan Klennert, P.O. Box 401 Elbe, WA 98330; Phone 360-569-2280
- Walt Disney featured Dan Klennert in the Disney Movie “America’s Heart and Soul.” DVD Available: http://movies.disney.com/americas-heart-and-soul
- The Mt. Rainier Visitor Association sponsored Dan Klennert in a YouTube presentation: “Recycled Spirits of Iron:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAlZ7xjr2wI
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