Colin Nolan adjusts a piece on his alien crash landing sculpure at his home near Monroe. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Colin Nolan adjusts a piece on his alien crash landing sculpure at his home near Monroe. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Monroe man repurposes scrap into weird, wacky, wondrous art

“I hate to see stuff that’s cool get thrown away,” says Colin Nolan.

Colin Nolan doesn’t need to decorate his yard for Halloween.

It looks like Halloween all year.

He’s the Dr. Frankenstein of junk.

Or the Junkenstein of funk.

What’s up with that?

In his Monroe workshop, broken parts become creatures that could be your worst nightmare — that is, if they weren’t so freakin’ cute.

“It’s a way to enjoy my scrap,” he said. “I hate to see stuff that’s cool get thrown away.”

It’s an occupational hazard for Nolan, 57, who buys and sells used golf course equipment. He stashes his finds on the 5-acre homestead he shares with his wife, Nancy, and two kids, Hunter, 16, and Shelby, 13.

Some items get fixed up and resold. Others get reborn in new ways.

He has curated dozens of sculptures from old propane tanks, mower blades, backpack blowers, engines, coils, weed whackers, plows, jacks, rakes and log tongs. He takes the reduce-reuse-recycle ethic to an eccentric conclusion.

A troop of big action figures line the front of his property at 12714 263rd Ave. SE on the outskirts of Monroe.

“A lot people stop, slow down, take pictures,” he said.

Others may run like hell.

His roadside display has never been the target of vandals or thieves.

Nolan started making yard art about four years ago, sparked by the demise of his pride-and-joy 1973 Chevy Vega that was tricked out in chrome.

“It caught on fire,” he said. “Rather than throwing the thing away, I made a Transformer (alien robot figure) out of it.”

The figure’s body is the Vega engine. The arms, made from the drivetrain and coil springs, hold a muffler-turned-gun at the ready. The head is an engine.

I told Nolan that back in college I had a Chevy Vega. It was never that cool.

“You could have made yours look just like that,” he said.

No way.

Another figure is made from propane tanks with a head that’s an antique rototiller, eyes from a pick ax and chainsaw-bar tongue. Its weapon is an old tool used to stretch mink fur.

“It takes a strange mind to come up with this stuff,” Nolan said. “I can’t help it. There’s no rhyme or reason for some of this. I just build them to build them.”

The flying saucer is from a satellite dish, with a gaggle of dolls sprayed bright green and artfully arranged on top. “It had alien written all over it,” he said.

His beloved Seahawks make an appearance in some unique 12th-man looking forms.

A 12-foot humanoid with shoulders from a 6-foot-wide lawnmower deck looks like it could tackle the whole team. It was created in Nolan’s laboratory for that famous 2014 championship game against the Broncos. “On Super Bowl Sunday I made him and put him in the back of my truck and drove downtown and people went bananas over it,” Nolan said.

Now it stands near a silo turned blue-and-green Apollo 12th-man rocket: “It was sitting on the side of a barn with a little ‘Free’ sign on it, all rusted up, and I just had to save it,” Nolan said.

Some of the other oddities are just the physical manifestation of Nolan seeing something in what others deem rubbish. For example, a wringer washing machine with tennis shoes on three legs, posed as if it’s ready to wobble around the lawn.

“It still works. You could plug that in and it would run,” he said of the washer. “I went to Goodwill just to get those shoes. It’s the only place that had three shoes alike. (The cashier) made me a deal on them.”

Nolan also has a collection of about 20 more characters near his house, which he plans to move in front.

“My wife said, ‘I want people to see it,’ ” he said.

(If this was my husband’s passion, I might want it out of my living room window’s sight, too.)

“She’s used to it. She puts up with it,” he insists.

His son, Hunter said it’s easy for his friends to find him.

“Look for all the sculptures in the front yard, that’s my house,” he said.

Is it art?

“Oh, yes, this is art. Definitely art,” Hunter said. “Not the prettiest kind of art, but it’s definitely art.”

Ernie Smith, owner of Blue Boy West Golf Course about a mile away on Florence Acres Road, said Nolan is a man of many talents.

“He’s a really good mechanic,” Smith said. “He fixes all my equipment, when he’s not dinking around with all that stuff. He has a knack to do artwork. He always wants to bring some stuff here, and I say, ‘Well, I don’t think it really fits into my decor.’ ”

Want a one-of-a-kind wonder for your yard?

“Nobody has ever tried to buy anything. Never,” Nolan said. “If someone appreciates it, come talk to me.”

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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