McGee: The American Farmer

Riding my bicycle along a county road I spied a piece of bent metal. I paused and looked at it in the dust.

Was it worth saving? Was it an art treasure waiting to be developed? Bent rebar as art?

Such thoughts only came to me after a trip years ago to Santa Fe and its art galleries. People were paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars for things made from stuff I saw in roadside ditches every day.

I thought, “Dang, I should come to Santa Fe to do art and make big coin.”

Not long after I returned from “The City Different,” it seemed opportunity fell right in my lap. While out walking I found a foot-long strand of barbed wire with two chicken-egg sized hunks of concrete on each end.

I took it to work the next day and stuck it on the wall in my office.

“What’s that?” asked a co-worker.

“Santa Fe art,” I said.

“It needs a frame,” she said. “What’s it called?”

“The American Farmer.”

She didn’t get it.

“You see,” I explained, “The barbed wire represents the American farmer, and one hunk of concrete is a rock, the other is a hard place.”

“Ohh,” she nodded her head in understanding.

“I figure someone in Santa Fe might pay a thousand bucks for it.”

I never took “The American Farmer” to Santa Fe. I finally came to my senses and threw it out.

Besides, I’d learned in my encounters with the art world that success in that realm isn’t so much about selling art as it is about networking, socializing and making a small fortune by starting with a large one.

I looked at the bent metal in the dust. Was this art in the rough?

Nah, just a hunk of rebar.

I got back on my bike and pedaled home.