When I spoke with Jimmy Descant on the phone, he'd recently finished a new sculpture, titled Chief Thunderbird. Made entirely from found and donated scrap objects, it stands 10 feet tall and weighs around 600 pounds. It's currently residing in the yard of his Salida home.
"I started with packing crate skids I found in an alley and three pallets I found behind the local hardware store, and I started building up this vision," he says. "The only things I bought are new screws and new paint. Everything else, all of the metal that's on it, is found stuff." Chief Thunderbird includes a piece of a car bumper, parts from an office desk, a bike frame, a bowling ball, vacuum cleaner parts and "a silverMexican stirrup."
"My talents rely on the actual fabrication of putting things together that had never seen each other," he says. "Everything else already came from a factory, designed by anonymous draftsmen who never got any credit or got to sign their beautiful work. ... It's a dedication to those artists who created it in the first place."
Descant prefers to use parts from the golden age of American manufacturing — the 1920s through the 1960s. He says that parts he finds from back then were built to last much longer than modern consumer goods, and he hopes his approach ensures that his art will last longer, too.
"It's an opposing view of a Walmart world," he says. "The phrase 'planned obsolescence' is obsolete because most everything that American culture produces ... the mass production of Walmart stuff, it's already obsolete, it's already junk as soon as you buy it."
While he prefers to obtain most of his materials on the cheap, sometimes he does have to hit eBay to find something specific. His sculpture Chief Eye-Heart-Gut, the People's Choice winner from the Springs' 2015/16 Art on the Streets, uses two matching logos from an old truck in the bow.
"They were both from the passenger side of a '59 Chevy Apache truck," Descant says. "To find something matching, I'll go to eBay. It's almost like cheating for me, but to get to that vision, it's like 'I can't wait another year.'"