Iron Did Swim – Willow Park’s Newest Sculpture
A new metal sculpture was recently added to the landscape along the east side of the Trinity River walking trails. The sculpture is a stainless steel Alligator Gar that stands 24’ overlooking the river and Willow Park North. The piece was selected to reflect the area and add to the already beautiful scenery.
Joe Barrington is the artist that created “Iron Did Swim” and is from Throckmorton, Texas. Joe’s work was selected to enhance the area as he was able to truly capture the vision and uniqueness the developer was looking for. You can learn more about Joe through the Q&A below and be sure to come see his 24’ tall stainless steel masterpiece!
1. How did you get started in art?
I grew up going with Dad to his welding shop to work with him. My Mom and Dad were both very creative. I always drew, carved, made stuff and was a voracious reader. I still have objects I carved or made while I was with Dad when he was working. After working a year in the welding business for Dad, I felt like there was something missing. I decided to go to school. I liked to draw and took some art classes. I had no idea what I wanted to do except go to school and away from the long hours in the oilfield.
2. What was it that attracted you to welded steel sculptures?
While in school, I found the new sculpture area in the new art building. I didn’t know much about art, but I did know how to weld. The sculpture instructor was a laid back guy. He said, “I hear you can weld…. build me something.” So I started with building large tool pieces, the first was a pair of 8 foot pliers. I had heard of the Pop Artist Claes Oldenburg.
3. What has been your favorite piece and why?
I get asked this question a lot. Probably one of my favorites is the “Been Fish’en” piece in Lampasas, Texas. In part, because it tells the greater story of how an artist’s life influences their work. When I was about 8 years old, I was with my Dad at a salvage yard. We were standing at the counter. There was a photo of a toy truck with a catfish lying over the top of the truck. I pulled on my father’s pant leg and asked “is that real?” He looked and said, “the fish is real, but it’s lying on a toy truck.” 35 years later, I recall that day and think how cool it would be to recreate that image with a real pickup. I bought a ’59 pickup with a great patina and built the catfish with his head lying on the cab and his tail dragging out the back. So that’s one of my favorite sculptures that’s part of my story.
3. What do you enjoy the most about being a sculptor?
I enjoy the creativity of figuring out how to make a new piece and how to make/ find textures. I also enjoy the travel and places my sculpture has taken me. I have been able to travel to Japan, Tasmania, Australia, Alaska, and to South America.
5. What and/or who are your influences for the pieces you do? Or what inspires you?
My life’s experiences inspire me. The time spent outdoors as a kid… I loved the Creek. Creek critters have often found their way into my work. Turtles, catfish, garfish, snakes, birds etc. I have spent most of my life in rural West Texas so the people, the landscape, the weather, and the remoteness all are influences.
6. Any projects in the works?
Yes! Several good projects in the works. I am working on a 25’ Blue Crab for the city of Rockport, Texas. A life-sized African Elephant for a private collector and a couple of other large private pieces. I have also been picked for a Fort Worth Public piece that is slowly developing. Hopefully it will be ready to start soon.
7. A dream project you have or one that you would love to work on?
It is more of a fantasy…. I tell people I would like to walk in the studio, build what I want to, push it out the door and the money would appear in my bank account. No hauling. No haggling. No anxiety about money. Just build the sculpture… like I said it’s a fantasy.
8. Details on our gar fish.