When most people look at a pile of junk, they see junk, but one Issaquah artist has learned to look beyond bent trowels and engine parts.
Instead, Denny Croston sees flowers, animals and all the makings of his recycled outdoor sculptures, often called yard art.
Croston just finished his first public installment at the Flatland Peapatch on Juniper Street this June.
AtWork! with a grant from the Issaquah Arts Commission, chose Croston to create a decorative gate for the already lively veggie patch.
He designed it with a garden theme. Two side panels are made out of agrarian tools, including shovels, pitchforks and tractor engine parts.
Railroad ties set in deep concrete hold up the face of a sun and frame the gate. Two pots of metal flowers spring from the top of the gate.
People often have as much fun trying to figure out what each piece of junk is, as they do enjoying the aesthetics when they’re cleverly soldered together.
Decorative cast iron lamp post toppers hold up the sunshine. They were so strong, he decided to keep the grey enameled paint, which sticks out on the otherwise rusty brown structure.
A regular at car swap meats, scrap yards and garage sales, he’s always searching for supplies His favorite spot is a place in Moses Lake, which is loaded with old farm equipment.
“I’m always on the hunt,” he said.
One of the requirements for the garden gate project was that it had to be made out of recycled materials.
When he read the call to artists for the project, he knew it had his name written all over it. A week later he had his concept done and completed.
“Denny Croston came with a proposal that embodied exactly what the garden committee had envisioned for its gate,” said Dennis Wajda, who helped organize the project, in a press release. “It is bold, solid and beautiful, and is a gateway to the gentler world of the garden within the fence.”
Retired from the construction field, Croston didn’t have much of a challenge raising the heavy gate.
The structure is so strong, a tree could fall on it, and the tree would break, he said with a laugh.
Croston’s family has lived in Issaquah since 1893. So instead of just signing it with his initials, he decided to write out his last name.
He first got into yard art after years of watching a friend succeed at it. He retired and decided to give it a try, but not without getting some advice first.
Croston asked the friend how he envisions his creations, and learned that the artistic process was more of an evolution.
He also learned to listen to music while he works.
“It drowns out all of the garbage in your head.”
A regular at the Issaquah Farmers market, he now takes special orders.
His largest sculptures are totem poles, which challenge the wood-carved medium.
“I surprised myself with some of the stuff I come up with,” he said.
AtWork!, which helps people with developmental disabilities find work, leases part of its land to the city for the garden.
The side panels of the garden gate at AtWork! were made entirely out of old agrarian tool parts.
The tops of the garden gate were topped with metal flowers sprouting in different directions.