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One man's junk becomes another man's art

Larger-than-life flower featured at wine tasting
By: Gloria Beverage
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Kelly Quinn loves other people’s junk. For the past 10 years, Quinn, 56, has been collecting an odd assortment of material – propane tanks, rusty canal pipes and even satellite dishes. And yet, there is a purpose to this collection. He transforms the “junk” into works of art. “Art is in everything you look at, if you have the eye,” he said. “Everyone has art supplies in their yard.” And Quinn’s canvas is the five-acre garden adjacent to the Weimar home he shares with his wife, Jan. Several of his creations, including the world’s biggest wind chimes, are displayed in their garden. A resident of Colfax since 1954, Quinn worked for Placer County for 33 years, retiring as senior road district supervisor two years ago. Now his days are split between the garden and his workshop. “I like working in my yard,” he said. “If it’s raining, I’m in my shop building something.” When he first started the hobby he calls OPJ (Other People’s Junk), Quinn created figures of people with rebar, pieces of steel used to reinforce concrete fences and buildings. “Basically, I recycle. I make stuff out of junk,” he said. “And I try not to spend money on any new material.” One of the most challenging pieces he’s made so far was a youth riding a skateboard, which was placed on top of a message board at a local skate park. “It was part of his nephew’s Boy Scout project,” he said. Over the years, his artwork has morphed and grown – literally. One of his latest creations, a 7-foot-tall flower made from propane tanks and old canal pipes, will be given away during the 6th annual Wine Tasting with Chocolate and Appetizers on Friday, May 21. The fundraiser, hosted by Soroptimist International of Colfax, will start at 6 p.m. in Roy Toms Plaza at the corner of Main and Grass Valley streets in downtown Colfax. In addition to sampling wines from local wineries, ticket-holders will be able to bid on artwork donated by local artists. As far as the art is concerned, Quinn doesn’t expect to make a lot of money. “It’s a hobby,” he said. “I don’t mass produce. Everything I build is different.” He simply collects junk and stores it in Ted’s Shed, a building reminiscent of Unabomber Ted Kazinsky’s cabin, until inspiration hits. “He is every other wife’s dream — willing to haul all those things no one wants from their yards,” laughed his wife, Jan. “But, once I understood his ‘vision,’ it became very exciting. I loved where he was going with it.” As his passion has grown and developed, Jan has come to appreciate his “collection.” “You never know what he’ll think of next, or even better, where he’s going to take this,” she said. “It’s fun to come up with ideas myself. He is always willing to create and work with me on what I see.” Perhaps Quinn’s approach to art is best summed up in the bumper sticker on his car “Doing strange things in the name of art.” From his wife’s point of view, it’s simply “his free-spirited, kooky personality that translates to his interesting pieces and success. He is very inspiring.” Tickets to win Quinn’s sculpture can be purchased in advance at the Record office, 233 So. Auburn St. or at Marson’s Men’s Store on Main St. Cost is $1 each or 5 for $6. Tickets for the May 21 event, a $20 donation, can be purchased from Soroptimist members. They are also available at the Record office or at Marson’s. __________ Know and Go Wine tasting with chocolate and appetizers plus silent auction featuring works of local artists When: Starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 21 Where: Roy Toms Plaza at the corner of Main and Grass Valley Streets Cost: $20 donation. Proceeds benefit community projects, including a scholarship in memory of Cathie Hunter, an art and business teacher at Colfax High.