Small Sculpture in Texas

Ian Krell, Junk Sculptor

His house
is his studio
is his home
is his shop
and gallery
is his own world
which he created


Ian Krell, his wife Annette, and eight cats live at 3305 Lombardy lane in Dallas. Cranberry Acre, he calls it. I asked him why cranberry: He answered, "Why acre?"

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But that's what he calls home. And this is where he lives, thinks, dreams, creates, sculpts, builds, keeps all of his stuff, shows his wares, and occasionally sells them.

A year and a half ago, this home was a chicken shack-windowless, paint-less and without a soul or an identity. Ian put paint on the walls and windows through them. Organizing and reorganizing, designing, scrapping and redesigning-letting Cranberry Acre grow in reality as it grew on him and in him, he began to settle down into the continuum of the life of peoples and things and art on the shore of Joe's Creek.

Along with windows and paint, he added walls an rooms. And with each new creative season a new crop of his sculpture sprouted.

Organic metal forms still grow from the walls and ceilings of Cranberry Acre. Ian takes some down, sells some, gives some away, and replaces them with new creations.

Cranberry Acre has become a microcosm of manned ecology.

The material of Ian Krell's art is junk. Pack rat piles of collected junk fill his working areas around the house. Arches over his doors and shelves in his kitchen are from homes which have been cleared away for progress.

Krell collects junk, scrap metal and wood, rusted toys, gears and chains and cables. He has a Gypsy dream of wandering across the country, settling near one city junk yard after another, staying at each long enough to use the materials available there to create and sell to finance his way to the next junk yard.

Friends bring him interesting junk or tell him where there's an old factory or something. Krell takes in junk and dispenses art.

The Krells live in their world giving and taking just enough to stay happy and in their own world. Ian wants $300 for the motorcycle-which is about a foot long, its wheels turn and handlebars steer-but last year he managed to stay well under the official U.S. Government poverty level. Most of his things are priced well below that. Ian is not getting rich off his work. Cranberry Acre still has no hot water.

He shows his work at big art shows, but local galleries won't get his business. They take a big chunk out of the price and a percentage of the future.

With his "house is a home is a gallery is a studio and shop," Ian eliminates the middlemen and works directly in his own environs.

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But the capitalists are grabbing at Ian Krell's future. Cranberry Acre is scheduled for the chopping block.

Krell's castle is now standing in the way of progress. And as sure as the roar of the Love-bound jets overhead and the concrete being poured into Joe's Creek, the sky is falling.

Ian got his 30-day notice to clear the premises earlier this month. His landlord is going to build a warehouse. Lombardy Lane is being industrialized. At first Ian hoped to get an extension-it takes years to move a world. Unfortunately, the building is too weak to be moved altogether.

But moving the whole thing at once would be the only way he could retrieve his investment of time and creation into Cranberry Acre. It's not all or nothing, but there will be a great loss in the transition. It's easy to get settled somewhere, and new beginnings are hard, especially for farmers.

When he got notice of the impending bulldozers, he immediately began conjuring aloud about heading for the mountains-far away from so-called progress and away from everybody but a few friends.

Lombardy Lane now has the feeling of the country. Maybe not in the mountains, but Ian wants to live out in the country where there are still trees and animals and grass and real people. He will find real friends everywhere, anywhere-but he won't fit into just anywhere. Farmers need the land.

"East Texas is beautiful" and "Colorado" images filled his decision-making thoughts. He was on his way to California when he stopped in Dallas to visit his sister. She wanted to start an antique shop, which is how Cranberry Acre Iron Sculpture and Junk Art and Antique Shop all got started.

If it were many years older Cranberry Acre would have become an historic monument, but even that would have been moved-or destroyed-in the face of progress.

Ian tried to explain Cranberry Acre to his landlord, but landlord can only talk about pennies and dollars, and artists and farmers can only talk about life.

I suggested that wherever he moved to probably wouldn't turn into a sea of mud every time it rained like Cranberry Acre does. Ian Krell replied that he liked the mud.

Dallas NOTES volume 4
April 1970

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