Richard Edelman

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Painted Steel

Like Picasso, I’ve always loved American weather vanes. There is a wonderful, primitive folk art aspect to them and they’re also deeply related to my profound interest in wind-generated power.

 

 I have rebuilt many, many wind-powered turbines from the 1920’s and 30’s. My great uncle was active in the Wincharger Company in Sioux City, Iowa, where my father was born. My weathervane series has its origins in the wind-charger rebuilding I have done. Today there is a great interest in clean energy and in generating electricity from the wind. Back in the 1930's the first wind-powered electrical-energy generating turbine was created by an American farmer who took the generator from a model T Ford and attached to it a balsa wood propeller, then mounted that on a tall tower. Before farms were on the grid, 6-volt electricity generated by the Winchargers was stored in a simple battery that powered barn lights, washing machines and early radios, in particular. Later, Zenith Radio bought the Wincharger Corporation so that it could sell farmers a source of electricity along with a radio.

 

Certain images frequently appear in American weathervanes. Horses are my favorite. Expressing wind in old chunky steel is not easy.