"I lap this up like syrup off a waffle," says Haggard as he stands under the shade of a nearby tree.
What was catching the attention of so many people - many of them revisiting the display a second or third time - were the life-sized metal figures of a musician playing a saxophone, another playing the fiddle and a cigar store Indian. What made them unique is the material that went into their construction.
Haggard has no particular name for his art, other than perhaps the word “utilitarian.” That’s just another way of saying he makes them from whatever material happens to be available - wrenches, cylinders, sprockets, gears and scrap metal. “I scavenge all the time for material,” he says.
There’s no rhyme or reason to how the material will be used or what the end product will be. "I'll lay a lot of parts on the floor (of my shop) and look at it. Sometimes I’ll sit around for a long time and eventually something will come to me and I’ll start,” he explains. “Sometimes I’ll make something and then take it apart because I don’t like it. I’ll build until it gets to the point where I like what I’m seeing.”
Haggard definitely sees art art, and life, a little differently than others. A 1972 graduate of Southwestern Oklahoma State University with a degree in art, his passion for being creative had to be put on hold while raising a family. “I had to make a living and this isn’t a way to make a living,” he says with a grin. “I’m finally at the point in my life where I can get back to this craft and do what really pleases me.”
It also adds to his enjoyment that others find the artwork so interesting. “I purposely don’t stand in my booth a whole lot. I like to hear what people are thinking,” he says. “A lot of people say ‘This is great. This is the best thing I’ve seen at the show.’ That makes my head swell about three inches. It’s better than the money, quite honestly.”
With the bigger pieces selling for $1,500 to $2,000, few were reaching for their checkbooks. But there were plenty of smiling faces and “amazing” comments from shoppers. Some would stop and gaze for several minutes while others would walk around the pieces and study them from every angle.
They would have observed that some of Haggard’s larger art forms have moving parts. The fiddle player, for example, has a water pump jack that came from an old timing water well. “You crank the handle on the side and he moves,” notes Haggard. The cigar store Indian has a Singer sewing machine mechanism attached to the back so he will move.
As he observed his artwork capturing so much attention at the Whimmydiddle, Haggard points out this has been an “evolutionary process.”
“You could say it’s like Picasso. You start in one phase and end up in another. I can’t tell you what I’ll be doing two years from now. It’s whatever comes to mind and whatever inspires me. It depends on what I consider fun,” says Haggard. And you can just about bet it will have the added purpose of drawing a reaction from others. After all, that’s half the fun.
Source: Scott County Record