Artists Bring Concepts to Colorful Life in Tugboats
I have written several thousand articles and had a hand in writing or editing dozens of books.
But my skill with words doesn’t extend to painting, drawing, sculpting or other artistic endeavors. I can’t draw a decent stick figure.
That’s probably one reason I have such admiration for those who can bring things to life through art, be that through graphic design, watercolors, photography, or other mediums.
No better example of artwork that sings with talent is a current display of creative, colorful tugboats in downtown Huntington, West Virginia.
Alas, after October it will be gone. If you’re within driving distance, it will be worth the time to take in these unique models, brought to life through the fertile imaginations of dozens of area artists.
It has all been for a good cause: raising funds for the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital.
Tugboats A Creative Endeavor
Until recently, I didn’t know the artists had donated their time, which in some cases stretched to 100 hours or more.
Sponsors paid for materials, with the tugs auctioned off at a gala banquet. Come November, winners will take permanent possession of the tugboats.
By way of full disclosure, one reason I know so much about this project is I’m currently working on copy for a coffee table book about the display.
I edited a similar book three years ago about a collection of railroad engines that was displayed for several months. I still like looking at it and reflect on those I saw in person.
Working on the front end of the latest book has increased my appreciation for the creativity, life experiences, and personal touches that went into the display.
I was particularly impressed—inspired even—by the comments from a grade school art teacher at a Catholic school about the inspiration for her projects.
She credited her students with collaborating on the two designs she submitted, including one called “Makerspace.”
This particular piece’s goal: to inspire and excite the public about an education model that promotes innovation and creates real world applications.
“There is evidence at every turn that students become better problem solvers when they are challenged to think divergently, take creative risks, and engage in iterative thinking,” said the teacher. “This learning opportunity also gives students a sense of ownership when their success is weighed much more heavily on the process than the product.”
An Eye for Art
Then there was the one created by an art teacher at an area high school.
“Hide and Seek” included a drawing of an amusing Bigfoot-type creature, which goes back to the creator’s childhood, when she and her father talked about the possibility of Sasquatch creeping into their camp.
Although the idea frightened the small girl, her father allayed her fears by turning Bigfoot into a comical figure—someone lovable and clumsy . . . maybe even a vegetarian.
But the story that made me hoot was about “Boat Number Fore,” fashioned by the head of an advertising agency.
The reason for the golf-themed boat stemmed from a lifelong affinity for golf. That, and an experience when he first moved to town.
Lacking much money at that point, he did what so many guys do: came up with home furnishings at a yard sale.
They included a small, glass-topped dining room table that cost $15. He repaired it with some duct tape and a custom-cut piece of Astroturf, creating a golf-themed table.
While he loved it, not so much his fiancé.
“Needless to say, the Astroturf parade didn’t make it to our first apartment,” he said.
Art, as everyone knows, is in the eyes of the beholder.