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Artist Specializes In Horseshoe Art
Drive by Benny Van Cleve's Minnesota farm and you'll see a cowboy sitting tall atop a saddle on a rust-colored horse. Pull in the driveway and you'll see a laborer leaning against a cactus.
Has the Old West moved to the Midwest? Nope. You're seeing the handiwork of Van Cleve who, besides being a farrier and horse trainer, also creates unique western sculptures using horseshoes, sheet metal and pieces of iron.
"I like to go in the shop and putz around. I built the cowboy first with the idea of standing him up in the garden next to the road with his arm waving to passersby. After I finished him, I decided to give him a horse," says Van Cleve, who has a good supply of horseshoes he keeps the worn ones he takes off horses.
The cowboy and horse sculpture stands about 12 ft. high and is about 9 ft. long. The cowboy contains 244 horseshoes, all of which are welded together. His vest, boots and 25-gal. hat are formed from sheet metal.
The rust colored horse (the horse-shoes are untreated and unpainted) is made from 540 shoes and sports a sheet metal saddle, and a tail and mane made of baling wire.
In December Van Cleve adds blinking tree lights to dress up the lone rider and his horse for Christmas.
The laborer leaning against the cactus consists of a 12-ft. tall cactus, made of re-rod bent to shape, and horseshoes. The man, also made of horseshoes, has a 4 ft. dia. sombrero, and boots made out of auger tubing.
Besides the large sculptures, Van Cleve also makes smaller scale, more detailed cowboys and other western scenes using horseshoes, scrap metal and sheet metal.
His pride and joy is a 6-horse teampulling a stage coach. The 5-ft. long rig has horses made of flat iron and detailed with reins made of wire. The coach is complete with spoked wheels, curtained windows, luggage on top and two riders one who's even carrying a double-barrel shot-gun. Van Cleve notes that it's these extra details that take the most time.
Besides making the sculptures for himself he's also made life-size sculptures for friends and neighbors.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Benny Van Cleve, 27540 Natchez, Elko, Minn. 55020 (ph 612 461-2031).

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1986 - Volume #10, Issue #5