Craft collector | SteamboatToday.com

Craft collector

Artist, rancher Wayne Kakela has amassed trades throughout the years

Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair

4 Points

There are three sheds on Wayne Kakela’s property to hold all the tools, art supplies, works in progress, works in completion, picture frames, bits of wood and scraps of metal he has collected during the past 48 years.

None of them are big enough.

In the 1960s, the Kakela Barn was a ski lodge. Throughout the years, the 32 acres of Kakela land have been home to hayfields, gardens, greenhouses, livestock and long-term tenants. Kakela, 72, built the shed and apartment he lives in, and converted an old horse barn into a living space. There are abstract metal works scattered across the property, made of barbed wire and old chains and other things that can be bent and forged.

“I apprenticed myself to myself. You just start doing it,” Kakela said of his method of learning how to work with metal, and how to go at many of the creative endeavors he’s pursued.

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“First, you have to fix something, and you think, ‘You know, if I had an anvil, I could do this much better,'” he said. “One thing grows into another.”

That’s probably the best explanation for the old cars and motorcycles, the pieces of boats he’s made, the ranching tools and everything else that lines the property. Kakela, as he put it, isn’t a collector. He just doesn’t get rid of things.

This, at least in part, explains his stock of trades and interests.

“A whole bunch of knowledge is learning how not to do something,” Kakela said as a way of explaining how he’s built a craft from a series of mistakes with metalworking, and how best to make it through the beginning stages of anything you might do in life.

“Sometimes they’re painful, and sometimes you bleed from them,” he said of those mistakes. For Kakela, in metalworking, those missteps were lead-ins to the flock of sheep at the Stock Bridge Transit Center; to a mirrored piece from the big, inflatable sculpture he took to Burning Man in 2000; and to the small cannon that was turned down as a final launch for Hunter S. Thompson’s remains, in part because, Kakela said, “Hollywood got involved.”

On July 12, his latest work-in-progress will be unveiled as part of Home ReSource’s Creative Community Project, a public art program that invites anyone who wants to participate to use recycled materials to create a new piece.

Like many people who have lived in Routt County for more than a couple of decades, Kakela said he has done 100 different things. For most of his years here, the things Kakela has done have been tangible: photos on real film, woodworking that turns into buildings, gatherings that make use of a wooden dance floor in a field, metal sculptures that take up space and include barbed wire.

And that starts to explain the shortage of storage space.