A big hit was a big bug made from a bunch of donated garden trash manipulated into a a praying mantis. Like a moth drawn to light, I walked towards this bug with no free will. Finding out it was made by Joe Carnevale, a.k.a. the Barrel Man, I was even more intrigued.
Joe has suffered for his art with, a little bit of a past, and now looks towards his future. Joe Carnevale will soon graduate from NC State university with a degree in History. A history major! I didn’t see that one coming. For whatever reason, art wasn’t even my first guess for his major; I was thinking something along the lines of robotics or mechanical engineering. The man likes to work in big, bold, and bodacious medium, while giving his art a little bit of gesturing.
I hated to even bring up his bodacious beginnings since he has moved on. Joe says, “Barrels were just one medium. After I had done a few barrel monsters on commission I was anxious to distance myself from them. No artists likes to be typecast. I wanted to stop being Joe Carnevale the barrel guy and start being Joe Carnevale the sculptor. The Street Knight was a successful departure from the orange barrels and the mantis was the next step.”
Good thing Tony Avent at Plant Delights Nursery commissioned a piece before Joe distanced himself. I’m not the first to want my photo taken with this monster.
It takes patrons to promote art. I asked Joe how he went from barrels to bugs? He said, “Erv [Evans] contacted me over the summer and asked if I was interested in putting something together for him. When I thought “garden center” I immediately thought of doing some kind of large insect out of garden tools. I did some googling for beneficial insects and settled on the mantis. Erv reached out to the local gardening community and got me a bunch of old tools and hoses. I rented a welding machine and got to work.”
Like most artists, Joe named his art – Tenodera Pugna. I asked Joe about the naming of this piece art; his reply, ”Tenodera is the genus for all mantids and pugna is Latin for battle.”
Of course, as a garden art collector, I inquired about a commissioned piece for my garden Helen’s Haven. My parameters were for something on a “human” scale. While I love his big art for public spaces, I needed something a bit more petite for my garden at home. ”No problem,” he said. After sharing with Joe my love for wildlife, he immediately suggested a hummingbird made from recycled lawn mower and weed whacker parts. Deal! Stay tuned for a post when I receive my piece.
Joe graduates from NC State University in December, 2010. A loss for Raleigh, but a major gain for Chicago; that’s where he’s heading. If he continues with garden related art, he is sure to meet up with a thriving community. Joe if you are reading this, check out my friend’s blog Mr. McGregor’s Daughter. Barbara took up welding to make her own garden art. Her latest piece, Becoming Green Women, is a piece I admire greatly.
Joe says, “I’ll be leaving Raleigh for the greater Chicago area. History degrees are quite useless in the job market, especially these days. So I plan to work whatever job I can find until I can get together enough money to take a certification course for being a rope access technician.”
What the heck is a rope access technician? I had to look that one up! When I did, I saw the fit – big, bold and bodacious! You go Joe.
I look forward to following your art…wherever you go.
Helen Yoest is a garden writer, speaker and garden coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™. Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her facebook Friend’s page, Helen Yoest; or facebook Like page, Gardening With Confidence™ Helen is a field editor for Better Homes and Gardens and Country Gardens magazine and she also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.
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