Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

From scraps, a big dog lands in Clearwater


Henry is made of 1,200 pounds of scrap metal. His face and body come from a John Deere hay baler.

He just got plunked down in the median of Cleveland Street, and now he's standing guard over downtown Clearwater like a 10-foot-tall watchdog.

Henry is the latest example of public art in Clearwater. The people who put him there know full well the giant metal canine is going to have his fans and his detractors.

"I hope everyone likes it, except for the 5 percent who take the time to hate it," sculptor Doug Makemson says cheerfully. "If no one hates it, you're not doing it right."

Makemson, a farmer turned junk metal sculptor from a town near Athens, Ga., drove Henry here on a flatbed truck Monday and installed him on Cleveland Street between Fort Harrison and Osceola avenues, or midway between the Capitol Theatre and the downtown Starbucks.

This is part of an ongoing initiative called "Sculpture 360," which rents three sculptures per year and exhibits them in the downtown thoroughfare's median planters.

The $12,000-a-year project, now in its second year, is funded by the Downtown Development Board, which is funded by a special taxing district downtown. A city-appointed panel chooses new artworks annually.

The purpose is to drag art out of the museums and into the street, says Christopher Hubbard, public art specialist for Clearwater. He expects to get a robust mix of praise and complaints about Henry.

"A lot of people don't go to museums and galleries, which can be a little pretentious and where you're supposed to have a certain reaction," Hubbard says. "What we're trying to do with public art is to get people talking."

Henry will no doubt get people talking. At the very least, his creator says, Henry is meant to be accessible. You don't have to know much about art theory to appreciate Henry for what he is.

Makemson says he has always been more likely to win "people's awards" at various shows instead of fawning from art critics.

The sculptor pursues his muse in a barn where he used to house dairy goats and hay. He collects scrap metal and then cuts, welds and hammers it until it's an alligator or a bird or an insect.

Or a dog.

Henry's forelegs are big metal posts that used to prop up a shelter for gas pumps. You can still see lettering on them: No smoking. Turn off engine.

His body is the packing chute for a hay baler.

His hind legs are 100-year-old pulley wheels that would have been powered by a steam engine or water wheel. Leather belts wrapped around the wheels ran machines in a textile mill or factory, the sculptor says.

And why the name Henry?

"It's part of a John Deere hay baler, and my father's name is John Henry," Makemson says. "It seemed like it needed a good solid name, being a big solid dog."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4160.

From scraps, a big dog lands in Clearwater 11/03/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 11:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.