Saved From the Land of Rust
Lon Pelton Sculptor of Windsor

A photo-essay by Rob LeBlanc (dit White)



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I first knew that there was a major artistic force at work in Windsor when I hiked the Pleasant Street Park trail one Sunday morning. It was soothing to walk the trail along the river which came out onto a small pond by the bridge. But on the island was a creature which might have come from a landscape one million years ago. Nestled there among the grasses was a giant dragonfly. In the mist the huge insect might even have been seen as real. But, as the mist had cleared I could see that it was a sculpture. But who had made it? Who had put it there.
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Completing my morning's walk I then drove back to pickup Michaeleen and we headed out for breakfast in Agawam at the Silo Restaurant. During our breakfast conversation I mentioned the sculpture, asking if she knew anything about it, but Michaeleen didn't know where it came from. We decided to do a search to find the artist.

By breakfast the following weekend Michaeleen had found an answer. "His name is Pelton," she said, "Lon Pelton, and he's a local sculptor."
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I filed that information away but as I was occupied, at the time, doing family research at the French Canadian Genealogy Library in Tolland, on the Defayette family of my grandmother, Ruby May Lafayette. The search for the dragonfly sculptor was temporarily put on hold.

Several months later, during my Sunday morning walk I returned by way of town, headed toward my car at the parking lot. But my attention was pulled to a cage in front of one shuttered old building. The sculpture was a cage with the form of a young person inside it. I looked the piece over closely and found a leaflet describing the work. It was signed by Ron Pelton.

Well, now it was time to get serious. Here was an imaginative artist in our very own midst. But again fate, in the form of my father, who became quite ill, interrupted the search. The season of Winter changed to Spring, Dad recovered and the sculpture disappeared and another reappeared. This time it was a rocket with a message.

By now the family crisis was over and I asked Michaeleen to call Mister Pelton and make an appointment to visit him and see more of his sculptures. We realized that other sculptures we'd seen along the road were also attributed to this man, a book of knowledge at the edge of another small park, a collage of horns and trumpets in front of a music store, an enormous blooming flower on the lawn of a local home, and other smaller works scattered around town.
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On a Saturday morning we visited Lon Pelton and his architect wife at their home, an enclave within the city limits yet isolated by a stand of woods and the slope of the land toward the river. Here was a quiet world, a world built by the Peltons to their own specifications.

We talked for quite a while and Lon gave us a tour of the place, but the ground was soggy and so we promised to return and do a story on his work. But, with the complexities of our lives another year went by until we again called "our new friend" and made arrangements to visit him and his wife to explore his works.

Lon is a man with a complex mind and a vision of the world that is uniquely his own, without compromise. He is part of that landscape represented by men and women like Amelia Earhardt, Lindberg, Howard Hughes, and other staunch individuals who lead the way rather than follow.
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Now, standing there, in the midst of a landscape full of dinosaurs, rockets, clocks and many abstract images I find that it looks easy, this man's accomplishments. His dreams have become real, they exist, not only in his imagination but as solid steel sculptures that dwell within the woods. Here is a world of whimsey, imagination and delight for folks of any age.

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On a Spring afternoon Michaeleen, Mrs Pelton, Lon and myself stood on the porch of the Pelton home looking at pottery shards excavated from a recent field trip. Lon and his wife were trying to put together enough pieces to identify the individual articles. The shards were scattered in small piles on benches and tables around the porch. Lon and his wife gave us a rundown on what they had uncovered so far.

"These pieces, a lot of them," said Mrs. Pelton, "had remnants of an explosion, all these tiny bits of "furniture" had tiny shards on them. . . ."  She held up the individual pieces for our inspection, then pointed to the collection along the porch.

We walked up and down the porch, inspecting the pieces, each of them a work of art in itself, even in its fragmented state as Lon and his wife told us what they knew of this collection.

I asked Lon if he was planning any exhibits of his work.

Lon Pelton: "Well, right now the Loomis Chaffee School is doing an exhibit of my work and asked for a vita from me. So I started putting it together with the help of my daughter. I started doing sculpture work in the fifties, with my silver sculpture work. That was the beginning.

Mrs Pelton interjected, "Of course if you look around town you'll find many of his sculptures, tucked here and there.

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* This is a work in progress:  - to be continued -