Mechanic Peter Fowler creates whimsical metal sculptures

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2012

By Katie Scarvey
Lots of people know Peter Fowler. He’s been a mechanic for 41 years, mostly at Rodgers Exxon at 900 S. Fulton St. He’s still there, although the place is now called Alligood Automotive.
“He’s a fixture in town,” says his friend Clyde, a Salisbury artist who goes by one name.
More than 20 years ago, Fowler got the idea to play around with some of the scrap metal that came his way, and there was plenty of it — things like old oil drums, motor mounts, rocker arms for cylinder heads and old wrenches.
Fowler says that at some point, he saw a keychain that had a “little man on it,” and it made him think that he could create something like it, only larger.
Fowler starts with a part that speaks to him in some way, and with a vision, a welding torch and some other pieces of metal, he ends up with a whimsical creation — a wild pig, a mouse, a daddy long-legs.
“These are just parts I take off cars at work,” he says. “Something that I’ve replaced or that’s worn out.”
The idea is the most important thing. “You’ve got to be inspired by something,” he says. Once inspiration hits, “everything just comes together,” he says.
“You can’t ‘try’ to do it,” he says. “You just have to see it.’
Fowler learned how to weld at Salisbury High School back in the early 1970s, he says, from a man named Mr. Petty. Fowler remembers building a dune buggy in welding shop. He still has it, he says, and it still runs.
He started working on cars when he was 15 or 16.
He hasn’t sold a lot of his art, but the late Katharine Osborne bought a wild turkey he exhibited in a show he participated in at Waterworks Visual Arts Center years ago.
Fowler has crafted some huge pieces, including an 18-foot-tall knight in armor.
Eventually though, he says he was “pestered by teenagers and curiosity seekers” who would trespass on his property off Goodman Lake Road at all hours to seek out his art.
And so, he says, he just got rid of the sculptures.
But he’s still making art, and you can buy a piece Friday night when Clyde will be helping Fowler showcase his sculptures at Off Main Antiques, on East Council Street, as part of Arts Night Out.