The Fantasy Realm of Sculptor Don Hallock

By Brian D’Ambrosio

When New Mexico artist Don Hallock begins a project, he seeks raw materials that have been shunned and then re-uses and re-imagines them in the construction of a new structure, with new function. In this way, he proves that art can be invented and borrowed simultaneously.

Usually it starts like this: He finds a toy or some scrapped possession that looks to him as if it could be re-purposed, say, as a head or a wing or some other aesthetic. Then he integrates it into a larger vision. Jar lids transform into wheels; a dragon emerges out of what was once the base of a candle holder; a three-tiered candelabra is converted into a fantasy flying machine; air-conditioner vents are re-fashioned as components of an automaton; antique spark plugs discover new life as bird necks.

The end result of Hallock’s conjoining is a recognizable object – a robot, a space ship, a guitar, an animal, a wall-hanging mask, or an airplane, steeped in recycled fantasy and second-hand fancy.

The genre of imaginative sculpture incorporates notions of magic, adventure, and used supplies, like a jar of buttons tugged from the bins at the Goodwill or a cracked vase, chipped saucer, or old lamp scooped up at a garage sale and in need of love. Some of the cast-off material on the airplane installations looks as if it was yanked straight from an abandoned granary or rusted silo. Sun-bleached ornaments and curios on UFO, skateboard, and guitar installations appear similarly weather-beaten.

““I like abstract, quirky, thoughtful, and unique,” said Hallock, 74. “I usually find a junk piece to start with. I’ll add to it and embellish it and then get an idea.

“I like to add wings on things and to things – butterflies, birds, rockets that are spacey looking.”

Indeed, Hallock was raised around airplanes. His father, Bruce Hallock, was a military and professional pilot and aeronautical designer.

“He taught me to fly on vintage airplanes,” Hallock said. “My first airplane ride was when my mother was pregnant with me (and Dad was a Navy pilot). It’s ingrained in me.”

A native of Austin, Texas, Hallock owned and operated antique and collectible stores for about four decades. About 18 years ago, he moved to Truth or Consequences, attracted to the healing arts scene and general creative vibe of the town.

Today, Hallock’s madcap skill is on display at several local galleries. As might be expected, a good number of the pieces are aviation-related. Most started with a scrap of wood, like a sliver of an old bed post. Adornments include a piece of a clarinet used as the fuselage, some parts of a speedboat motor attached as wings, and even a pair of skateboard wheels. These airplanes were then embellished with a host of metal trinkets and miscellaneous merchandise from Kodak camera lids, to the innards of a double harmonica.

“There is lots of trial and error,” he said. “Here, I found the clock first, then the box to put it in, and then the little parts, adding and subtracting. … If I’m lucky, I find the right piece.”

Hallock is especially fond of incorporating mid-1950’s kitchen items, such as strainers, salad tongs, and silverware.

With Hallock’s art, there is no welding or soldering. It is all completed with just a few screws and nails and some applications of glue.

“They are made to last and to display,” he said, pointing to a turquoise roadrunner composed of industrial, kitchen and automotive parts in his garage/studio. “They are not toys. They are not going to fall apart.”

It’s a good thing, too, as even his van is a rolling work of art, replete with aviation toys and Elvis Presley and Barbie figurines

“It’s a little bit of everything,” he said. I call it the ‘whatever-mobile.’ Everything is screwed on. I hit 85 on the highway and nothing falls off. I don’t just throw anything anywhere. It’s well-placed, and then it’s a composition, a thought. Art is about changing minds and directions.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, it seems that people are always giving him ornaments and bric-a-brac that they think that he could somehow use for his van or for his art.

“I might not be able to,” he said, “but I’ll take it. People know that the fantasy objects are all part of my life, and all are interconnected.”

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