Chris Weed's paper clips wouldn't both fit in his downtown workshop. The 24-foot stainless steel fasteners had to be secured on dollies; one rested in his driveway, its simple beauty highlighted by afternoon raindrops richocheting off the metal.
Now, both the clips are outside all the time, collectively comprising one of 13 selected works adorning downtown sidewalks in Art on the Streets' 11th yearlong exhibit.
"Hats off to the Downtown Partnership people," Weed says. "Especially in this economic climate, they're keeping it fresh — their donors aren't running scared."
"Paper Clips," Weed's sixth sculpture for the Partnership's innovative public-art program, defies gravity while maintaining balance and serenity. It's also the largest he's ever constructed, both in height and weight (3 1/2 tons, in total).
"There's a harmony with the two pieces," he says. "Almost like they're holding each other up."
When asked why paper clips, Weed replies, "I needed to get a little more harmony in my life." He then laughs at his pretentious tone. "They're these simple objects, everyday objects, but they're really graceful."
After a red paint bath, the paper clips were installed, one nearly upright and the other dissecting it at an angle, in the Plaza of the Rockies courtyard just south of the intersection of Colorado Avenue and Tejon Street.
"I really love making the larger elements that are precariously balanced — they look like at any moment they could fall over," he says. "It definitely throws your equilibrium off slightly."
Given that he began his career building fairly conventional furniture, the style surprises. Weed originally began working with his father, a carpenter with a wood shop in their house, at age 8.
"My mom stops by occasionally, unannounced, and asks, 'Honey, why must you make things so big?'" he mocks playfully, shaking his head. "It's scale that sells."
And it's scale that gives Weed's art the boldness that commands response. He says he emulates artists who place their work "in such a way and in such a large scale that it interferes with your daily schedule."
You may curse it, he says, but that's the whole idea: "to get people to stop even for just a brief moment as opposed to them just walking by and not even knowing it's there ... I really want to change people's perceptions of reality."
Weed is en route to the goal, having installed 15 permanent public commissions (four in the Springs) and sold numerous pieces to municipalities country-wide. He's also exhibited internationally, and his "Flowers" installation on Cascade Avenue was voted to the Indy's Best Of list consecutively between 2004 and 2007.
"I have visions of pieces dotting the landscape," he says.