ROADSIDE ART BY ROBERT WELLS

Robert WellsBy day he safely removes dangerous asbestos from construction, demolition and renovation sites; but nights and weekends he creates art objects of welded chains, railroad spikes and you-name-its. This is Robert Wells and that is some of his art, which you will see if you will but look east as you travel along highway 71 through Grannis. That's about midway between DeQueen and Mena.

His most recent and most ambitious works are acts of religious devotion.modular metal prayer tablet At right is the piece that lured me off the highway. It's a giant prayer tablet that holds words made of welded chain (raw material which costs about a buck a link). It reads, "FINISHED... THE SEED OF HOPE IT IS... PARTNERS IN PRAYER JESUS NAME WE WISH AND PRAY GOD'S WILL IN YOUR LIVES T FIRE 2000 IN THE FORM OF HEALING MIRACLES AND BLESSINGS AMEN THANK YOU JESUS IOU."

The welded link fragments, he told me, represent the chains of spiritual bondage which had been broken with the help of Jesus.welded log chain wellhouse I'm paraphrasing a bit, but I think that's the gist of it. The construction is modular so the tablet can be expanded or contracted line by line and the words can be changed as the situation requires. Robert told me that the prayers used to be written with individual letters, but now he welds them together in complete words. He didn't say so, but I'd bet a week's pay that he had trouble with the local hooligans rearranging the prayers into obscenities. Also notice the map of Arkansas in the upper quadrant of the tablet. The radiating figure marks Grannis on the map.

If your taste in art is more secular, here is a log chain wishing well you might like. In and around his shop he has a five-foot globe on gimbals, six-foot spatula and frying pan set, welded footbridges and numerous park benches and planters.

RTJ--10/2/98


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