Not many people could take a bundle of copper wire and pistachio shells and turn them into a work of art.
Richard Long of Dodge City has been building crowd-pleasing scenes out of these household materials for more than three years. It all started when he was eating some pistachios and realized the two rounded halves of the shell looked like insect wings.
“I started making butterflies on sticks, to go in plants,” Long said. “I made angels and little white doves, little bees. That went pretty good, so I started selling them at craft shows.”
Long’s mixed-media sculpture, “Whoa!! There They Go!” has been named a winner in this year’s system-wide Art is Ageless competition. Winners were chosen from the top local entries at all 18 Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America communities. Long’s piece will be featured in the 2016 Art is Ageless calendar, along with the works of more than 50 artists age 65 and older throughout Kansas and Missouri.
The sculpture depicts three pheasant eluding a hunter on the side of the road. The birds, made of painted pistachio shells and real pheasant feathers, bob on lengths of welding wire. Long also tucked a dog, a raccoon, a rabbit, and other birds into the scene among bushes made of wire.
“It’s a scene that I remember in my own mind, having done that,” Long said.
Long likes to include moving parts, such as a hummingbird dipping into water or swaying flowers. He uses a band saw to cut the shells down to the sizes he needs. His scenes are perennial winners at the Ford County Fair, and last year, a bowling-alley scene won People’s Choice at the Kansas State Fair.
People enjoy his art, and to Long, that’s success — in a nutshell.
In addition to Richard’s work, three other artists from Manor of the Plain’s exhibit will be featured in the calendar: Mary Anne Hendrix, painting, “Off to Work”; Mary J. Ford, painting, “Haystack Rock, Oregon Coast”; and Dawn Habiger, quilting, “Sacajawea Quilt.”