Sunday, April 24, 2011

Creative Engineering

Brad Kuhn first introduced me to Creative Engineering. The ramshackle warehouse is located just north of the bustling night club scene downtown. I parked in the loading dock area and got this sketch as I waited for Brad, his daughter Meschelle, and Darlyn Finch to arrive. When we knocked on the front door, the sun had set and it was starting to get dark. Aaron Fechter answered. A albino doberman pincher named Athena, was barking and snarling, but once Aaron pointed out that we were friends, the dog calmed down checking for scents on our shoes.

The entry showed promise since there were half painted set pieces lying around and sculptural forms receded back into the darkness of the factory. For the next hour or so Aaron took us on a tour of the facility. He had us step into an old freight elevator and warned us to watch where we stepped since some of the floor boards were not so sturdy. The lift loudly groaned as we rose up. I could see the drop below us through the crack between the floor planks and there was no ceiling to the lift so I could look up at the cables that vibrated and strained.

We later stopped at a whack-a-mole play station. It turns out that Aaron had invented whack-a-mole but the concept was stolen from him by some carnie. The moles in the game we stood near had Osama Bin Laden, Hitler and other despots as the moles. That idea never took off. By now he was using a flashlight to show us around. Mysterious dark forms would flash brightly for a moment then disappear into the darkness.

Aaron said he had to turn on an air compressor. He disappeared and we stood in the darkness waiting. Moonlight now filtered through the factory windows faintly illuminating the space. I heard the compressor fire up with a hiss and then I adjusted my eyes and saw the dark forms on the sidelines start to twitch to life. They moved with an awkward mechanical quality but the one closest to me shifted its gaze and stared right at me. It's head turned, the fur bristled, and it's eyelid raised with curiosity. Dust rose when they shook their arms and the cloud filtered our view. We were surrounded by animatronics each of them moving and stretching perhaps for the first time in thirty years...

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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