Great State: Crazy Bird Man

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA– The piece of metal on his bench was an adding machine once, but Brett McDanel doesn’t care. “Once in enters my world,” he says, “it isn’t going to be what it was ever, ever again.”

He might not get the old numbers but he does get the new geometry. Brett continues as he works, “It’s funny how history has a great way of providing things to make new stuff.”

McDanel is in the remodeling business. He’s always finding old stuff people leave behind or give him. He really likes the old machines and junk drawer parts that eventually sift their way to dusty shelves and boxes. “I have a picture in my head,” he says. “And I’ve got to find the pieces to fit that picture.”

There was a time when McDanel was quite content to simply destroy things. But with the end of youth came a calmer sense of creativity. He might still destroy, but he has a purpose now to re-make that destruction into something he can call his own. “I taught myself how to weld. I taught myself how to build things. I taught myself what I know.”

From his garage in a quiet Norman neighborhood comes a menagerie of wild creatures. He used to just give them away but not long ago Brett showed a few of his creations to gallery owners in Oklahoma City. They latched on. McDanel says, “Somewhere along the way I found the ability to not really care what art was supposed to be.”

He sometimes refers to himself as the ‘crazy bird man’. His creatures, some containing real skull and bone, are a kind of cyborg born of destruction and brought to life by an artist who sees possibilities in those left over pieces.

McDanel is part of a show at the Paseo Originals Gallery in OKC. His work will be for sale at the gallery through September 2.

For more information about the show or Brett McDanel go to http://www.paseooriginals.com .