Elephants on Parade

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Thursday January 10, 2013

Maybe you’ve already noticed. Traveling down Spear Street, it’s tough for them not to catch the eye, given their stature. A pair of giant, metal sculpted elephants bearing the winter chill on the lawn of Bob Avonda’s home at 1317 Spear Street.           

The sculptures are the work of Burlington-based metal smith Kat Clear, who is well known in the Queen City for her outdoor installations. This past summer, Clear debuted her near life-size elephants Miss Texaco, Miss Ritchie Page, and Race-Car Betty at the Shelburne Museum’s first outdoor sculpture exhibition. After the exhibit ended and renovations began at the museum, the elephants needed to be relocated. That’s when Avonda’s friend enlisted his help in lifting them from the site with a crane. “Kat asked me how I would feel about keeping an elephant on my lawn,” Avonda said. “Then, she said, how about two? They’re unique and a lot of people recognize them. It’s good buzz for her too.”
“They made a pit stop there between the Museum and my shop,” Clear said. “Elephants get tired after all that circus stuff and walking around. The other one is in hibernation, she will pop up somewhere in the area in the spring....it’s a surprise!”

The sculptures were crafted from oil tanks, pipes, wheel barrows, and other found metal objects. Clear says she works in metal because it’s  tough, and always poses a challenge. “I feel a connection to metal as it allows me to examine my own stubbornness and craving for real results. I strive to work with my medium by approaching it with strength while honoring its power. It balks at my hammer and sometimes does not bend with my heat, but then there is break and it begins to fall into place effortlessly,” she says on her personal statement.

The elephants located on Avonda’s lawn will ultimately continue their journey to Burlington in the spring, but for now, pedestrians and commuters get to enjoy her work right in South Burlington.

“I am hoping they receive the same kind of wonder and weird iconic legacy that the whales’ tails have! Is it working?” Clear asks.

Without a doubt.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent