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Coloring her world

October 30, 2010
By Cindy Votruba

MARSHALL - Barb Hawes of Marshall just wants to add a little more color and fun in her community.

Hawes received a Forecast for the Public Arts planning grant to create a set of large, colorful pinwheels in the community to create unique visual effects and perhaps one day, have the pinwheel project tie in with one of Marshall's community festivals, such as Sounds of Summer of the Festival of Kites on July 4.

"Anybody interested in public art should pursue it," Hawes said about the Forecast grant.

Although it's still in the planning stage, Hawes said she wants to make it work.

"I feel like we need fun," Hawes said. "It's fun to see the reaction of kids' faces," Hawes said.

She got the idea after spending some time in Oregon a couple of years ago. Hawes said Corvallis, Ore. has an annual DaVinci Days and one of the many events is where community members build kinetic sculptures.

Hawes said her original idea that she turned in for the grant application had three purposes:

To remind people of the need to financially support the children's wing of the new Marshall-Lyon County Library. The children's wing is a place for fun and exploration. Pinwheels are fun, childhood and motion, she said.

The pinwheels are a way to celebrate the wind continually surrounds us.

To illustrate, through the ways the colors blend together on the pinwheel, our diversity and similarity living on the prairie.

"The pinwheels were also a metaphor," Hawes said. "How all of our different cultures are coming together, living and working on the prairie here."

Then she started researching her idea and realized the engineering was far more difficult than she anticipated, there was really no way to accomplish everything she wanted to do.

"Which was OK because it was kind of temporary," Hawes said.

She refined the pinwheel idea to use kite material, a ripstop nylon and fiber rods to make them, but Hawes wanted to keep them 10 feet tall.

"They probably will only last a week," Hawes said.

As she continued her research, Hawes read the book "Wind Catchers: American Windmills of Yesterday and Tomorrow" by Volta Torrey. Then she contacted the Minnesota Kite Society, which eventually led her to Mike Delfar of Franklin, Wis., an avid kite builder and designer of the Premier Wind Generator.

"He is willing to partner with me to figure out how to make a pinwheel," Hawes said.

Earlier this month, with the help of family and friends, which included retired engineer Moisey Gutman of Marshall, Hawes set up the Premier wind generator designed by Delfar. She said Delfar helped her understand how a large structure can be supported.

"It was fun sitting in our window looking at people," Hawes said. She said that children laughed and people driving by took a second look at the 10-foot tall pinwheel.

The pinwheels would also be portable and can travel to any of the communities in the area, Hawes said.

"It will survive up to 20 miles per hour," Hawes said.

Hawes said she would like to have her idea expand into something for the community. She's already talked about the concept with other artists, Marshall Community Services and the Marshall-Lyon County Library.

"Long-term, I am looking for people interested in designing other large wind sculptures - artists, mechanically-inclined people, performers of all ages to become involved in a wind toy exhibition," Hawes said. "I would like to see this evolve into a wind toy exhibition."



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