When Dave Malone was 5, he found a can of paint in his parents' garage and went to work coloring the side of the house yellow. The family still talks about it today.
What inspired him then and now may be the same impulse — to add something new to people's perception of reality.
"I have never looked back," says the painter and sculptor. "It's always been a part of me."
Malone, 37, calls his latest creation a "random act of sculpture."
It's comprised of what he calls "found" metal. His garage is filled with rusted metal objects he's found from sources he frequents around the Salt Lake Valley.
The "random act" snakes its way through his neighborhood, which is a one-block-long street near Salt Lake City's East High School. The sculpture uses half circles that were cut from a huge, 3-foot-wide spool of oxidized metal.
It started in his yard and spilled over into neighbors' front lawns on either side. Now, folks in the area are asking why they haven't been included. One man down the street even asked Malone how much he'd have to pay to be part of the project.
"It's kind of a coming together of the neighborhood," he says. "They like the idea of being involved in something big." Part of a vision.
"It's merely a concept right now," Malone says. "It's an extension of my studio." And neighbors don't seem to mind the grinding, welding and cutting of metal, sometimes encroaching on an otherwise quiet midnight hour in the city.
But his roaming sculpture isn't for everyone on the block. Officials representing the LDS Seminary across from East High School said that being part of the sculpture did not fit into their "guidelines," Malone said.
A similar thing happened with his red-bike displays.
Last spring, Malone purchased 20 second-hand bikes, painted them red, stuck a flower on each one and displayed them around the city. The mobile "celebration of spring" made the rounds until someone — he thinks it was a government entity — pulled the plug, taking all of his bikes.
Again, Malone was simply feeding off the powerful feeling that comes with being able to affect someone's perception of reality.
"I just enjoy . . . the process of changing our surroundings," he says.
To this recently self-taught welder, art requires interaction, an open mind and the ability to expand one's perception.
"Art just is. I think there's art everywhere," he says. A fly fisherman, he'll sometimes notice the way stones align themselves in a stream.
Metal half-circles, red bikes — what if someone one day were to put big red balloons all along 800 South? he asks. "Wouldn't that just change your morning?"
The pieces he has standing in his driveway reflect his notion that art can be random and changing, starting with something organic and structured and altering the way it looks. He's artfully crafted — and given away — at least 20 pieces of furniture that started out as objects many people would easily write off as worthless.
"Fish Out of Water" is an 8-foot-high piece made up of found metal balls, rods and bent pieces to resemble a Picasso-like fish.
Sometimes a found object can stand on its own as art. One piece is simply a large, crushed metal circular shape he mounted onto a flat metal surface. Now, it's formalized or validated as an art form.
"It's hard for me to categorize my art," he says. Some might say industrial art. Assemblage-type pieces would come close, he says.
"I like the random part about it. It's not calculated. It flows," he says. "It's about what I feel. It's about total expression. It's a nice escape."
Malone is president and creative director at Huddleston & Malone Design, used to pleasing such big clients as Novell, Ballet West, 3 Com and United Way.
Malone's flair for commercial art has more than helped pay the bills and buy dog food for his four-legged companion, Diego. His passion for mixed media — he also paints — helps feed a different need.
Looking at a huge metal broken circle in his garage, he says, "I see beauty in it. I see the potential to add to it."
His random act of sculpture should remain in place through the Olympics, he predicts — although, in what form remains to be seen. Next week, the pieces might be yellow.