Dragonfly Sculpture Greets and Inspires

Kym Pokorny

Ben Dye enjoys solving problems, and in his world they’re huge.  Not to worry, though, the challenges this large-scale metal sculptor faces are good ones.

When I say large-scale, I mean it. Dye’s work often ends up in public places, including the Yard, Garden & Patio Show at the Oregon Convention Center Feb. 28 through March 2. This year, he took the theme of the Showcase Gardens, Designer’s Challenge, to heart. “I perceived a problem,” says the Oregon City artist, “and found a solution. I wanted to do an insect with a twist, one that people think is bad, but isn’t. My idea morphed into a dragonfly.”

Artist’s rendering of dragonfly sculpture greeting guests at YGP

Three of the insects with 6-foot wingspans will hover at the entrance to the display gardens on a 12-foot tapered tower. If erected outdoors, the dragonflies would circle the column when the wind blows. In my mind, Dye’s biggest challenge will be getting the 1,500-pound kinetic sculpture into place on the show floor. “I wanted it to be impressively large,” he says, “but that means I can’t bring it down the freeway with the wings out.” His answer was to create a mechanism that will crank the dragonflies flat, allowing for a hopefully uneventful trip to Portland, where the piece will be hauled into place by a crane. 

The show, presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers, has been graced with Dye’s work before. Last year, he created a metal circle with a twist called a Mobius, that weighs 5,000 pounds and now resides at The Allison Inn and Spa in Newberg. Two years ago he built a hippocampus, a mythical sea horse often used in carousels and one of his favorite subjects.

Ben Dye’s Mobius from the 2013 YGP Show
Ben Dye’s Hippocampus from the 2012 YGP Show

Of course, Dye’s sculpture, while the largest piece there, will hardly be the only. The perennially popular Cracked Pots, a group of artists dedicated to preventing waste through reuse, will return with work in every medium you can think of, and then some. Dye, a member of Cracked Pots and past board member, swapped his 25-year career as a commercial diver doing underwater construction for art about seven years ago. “It’s an extremely handy background, incredibly helpful,” he says. “I had access to huge tools, and I’m not afraid to move big stuff.”

Obviously not, which is lucky for those of us who attend the YGP Show. That would be all of us. Right?