Former Fresno St coach turns junk into art

FRESNO, Calif.

His award-winning bug sculpture always catches kids' eyes at the Big Fresno Fair. It features a dragonfly-eating frog and a praying mantis all made of scrap metal.

But the man behind the work has created a critter world he calls "malfunction junction."

Red Estes' Clovis home is full of discarded items turned into interconnected art pieces. Old equipment from a packing shed spotlights a dog fight.

"This is Snoopy and he's chasing the Red Baron over here," Estes said.

Estes encourages people to look for the joke in the junk, like in his "Republocrat-Demopublican" see-saw.

"Got the elephant on one end, the donkey on the other. Like all politics if you sit in the middle and rock back and forth you go nowhere," Estes said.

Sometimes his work's more serious.

"The body of Christ is with regular barbed wire. His crown is galvanized barbed wire," Estes said.

During his time as Fresno State head track and field coach Estes established a recycling program and collected cans. For some reason he always saved the scrap metal.

"That's just sheet metal. Some of it was roofing," Estes said.

When he retired in 2000 and took up welding four years later the junk became art. An old disabled weapon became a latch.

"This particular shotgun was my dad's," he said.

Estes even built a tree house for his grandkids. though he and his wife Myrna spend a lot of time there enjoying the view.

"The gopher's had enough so he shoots the buzzards. I don't know where I come up these ideas but there's a snail," Estes said.

At the age of 75 Red Estes lives by a simple motto: "Don't take life seriously. You'll never get out alive."

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