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Artist Tim Hibbs poses in front of his piece, 'Free Junk,' which he fashioned entirely from scrap metal. Head of the Blaxxmith Shop art gallery, Hibbs has been encouraging residents to come to 38 E. Main Street to "get their Buckhannon wings."

Local art gallery owner turns scrap metal into Instagrammable Main Street sculpture

BUCKHANNON – A local artist has gifted one of his latest scrap metal sculptures to the people of Buckhannon.

Tim Hibbs, owner of the The Blaxxmith Shop Art Gallery on Main Street, said he created the sculpture shaped like wings for the sole purpose of giving it to the city.

“What inspired me originally was contributing to the local art scene by having a piece of local art in town, and it’s been pretty difficult to really see something like that through,” Hibbs said. “I’ve also heard, throughout the course of trying to be an artist in this town, some people complain at different points that there was a lack of input from the people, as far as what kind of art was getting put in town, and I thought it would be cool to create a piece of art that I heard people wanted to see.”

Hibbs started working on the piece “Free Junk,” in February, and he said it took about 200 to 300 hours to finish.

“In the course of making something like that — trying to sustain the creativity, the initiative, what originally lit that fire — it was a long project, so I found different points of inspiration throughout,” Hibbs said. “I have made my name, whatever that small name is, in the art community of Buckhannon, by taking junk and repurposing it.”

“This is just one example of that and that is how its name came to be,” said Hibbs, who is also a painter in addition to working in a variety of other visual mediums.

Hibbs said he was inspired to make art with scraps of metal and other junk because his father made a living as a “Junker.”

“When I got to the end of this, I thought, ‘What a fitting tribute: To dedicate it to those men and women around here that take a load of junk off the side of the road and out of people’s yards,'” Hibbs said. “It’s a very overlooked way of making a living. The wings are called ‘Free Junk’ because it’s made out of junk and it’s free; it’s a tribute to the Junkers of the state; and it was made out of junk that was donated by people who donated time and members of the community who donated metal.”

“It’s just a very grassroots project that didn’t cost anything,” he added.

For instance, the feathers on the wings were made from old bed frames and the stand was made from a mobile home frame.

“It’s literally all scrap metal that doesn’t look anything like what it originally was, but that’s what it is,” Hibbs said. “I put a call out on my shop page looking for donor steel, and it didn’t take long for people to answer the call and soon I had a truckload of bedframes.”

The wingspan is eight feet, four inches wide, and it stands at five foot, four inches tall, and he guessed it weighed about 300 pounds.

“I hope when people see it, they have a feeling of all the metaphors that go with wings — that sense of freedom and liberation,” Hibbs said. “I feel like it’s a quality piece; I’m not one to blow my own horn by any means, but I think it’s something interesting that I would hope people consider for a pretty important moment in their lives, like graduating high school, shipping off to the military, getting married, graduating college, moving out of town to go find something else,“ Hibbs said. “I hope people think of a freeing moment; I hope people recognize it for that.”

Hibbs said he also wants more to see more local artists’ work displayed throughout the town.

“I’m just trying to shed a light on people who are here making art, and I feel that’s part of the inspiration of this piece: It’s just liberating, and I want artists to feel like they’re welcome to be artists in the town,” Hibbs said.

Hibbs is a member of the recently formed group, the Infamous Art Collective, which debuted its newest, themed exhibit, “Flying Too Close to the Sun” Friday, July 16. That was the night Hibbs also presented his piece, the “Free Junk” wings, to community members.

He encouraged visitors and community members to take pictures with the wings, writing, “Come get your Buckhannon wings!” on social media. Hibbs also hopes residents and visitors stop by the Blaxxmith Shop Art Gallery, located at 38 East Main Street, in Buckhannon to see their monthly exhibits. More information about the gallery can be found on their Facebook page and appointments to see current artwork can be made by messaging The Blaxxmith Shop on Facebook or emailing blackbeardxx75@gmail.com.

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