Great State: Spare Part Art
ELK CITY, OK — He owns the H and H Electronics store in Elk City. Randy Haggard started off in the old days with CB radios and branched out from there. If you can plug it in he carries it, with just a couple of minor exceptions he keeps by the front door.
“This is a stainless steel float off a tank truck,” says Haggard pointing to the top of a metal figure pulling a big chain. In any other store these metal sculptures might seem out of place, but the more you know Randy, the more you understand what powers the spare parts and cogs in his own complicated mind.
“I’m one of these guys that always walks with my head down,” he explains.
“When I was a kid I used to hunt arrowheads and if you do that you always keep your head to the ground, and when you walk that way you’re always finding things so they come home with you.”
He worked in the oil fields. Randy got to know how machinery worked and what a few parts looked like. He just didn’t really care.
“As long as the piece is pleasing and I can do something with it,” he says.
Haggard’s mind saw shapes of raw materials as the start of something else.
“You see that one special piece that reminds you of something else and there you go. You start welding and then you have something to show for it.”
Over the years Randy built a shop in his back yard. He kept collecting old metal scrap, grinding it, cutting, bending, and welding it until that old part was part of something completely different.
“I like to make sculpture that the more you look at it the more you see,” he says.
“That’s what makes it interesting. You start seeing things in that sculpture that are totally unrelated to what the actually represent.”
He’s on a first name basis with scrap metal dealers and hardware store managers.
“They call me sir when I walk in the door,” he chuckles.
Every once in a while someone will walk up to one of his metal sculptures and identify a spare part buried in one of his pieces. Half the time Haggard doesn’t know if they’re right or wrong.
He didn’t build the machine, or the part. He just made the art.