Writer / Heather Chastain
A man with a passion to mold steel has crafted a permanent legacy for the Town of Avon. Randy Flake, a heavy mechanic, designed and built the 200 sculpture at Town Hall. The sculpture celebrates Avon’s 20-year anniversary and Indiana’s 200-year anniversary.
“This is just a hobby I’ve taken to the extreme,” said Flake. “I just have a need to create. I’ve been doing it all my life. I like taking an idea, using my creativity and then raw materials and making something. I enjoy the challenge of trying to make steel move in a direction it doesn’t care to go.”
The Town of Avon commissioned Flake to create the sculpture.
“I did a show with Hendricks County Arts Council in 2010 and showed off some of my work, but nothing came of it until they referred Tom Klein (Avon Town Manager) to me about doing this project,” he explained. “The only parameters the town gave me were to make it 10 feet tall and have the number 200 in it. That’s it. They left the rest up to my creativity.”
So he got to work, sketching what he envisioned. Flake doesn’t use a computer or CAD software.
“After I submitted my very rough sketch to the town council, they came back with a few tweaks and then basically said, ‘Okay, if you think you can do this, let’s do it.’”
It took him about three months to complete the heavy gauge plate sculpture.
“I was really happy with the outcome,” he said. “I always strive to give people something they will enjoy, and I try to give the client more than they ask for.”
Klein said Flake did a great job of taking the vision and making it a reality.
“The sculpture has become an iconic part of the park, and many families and community leaders have had their picture taken at the sculpture,” Klein said. “The Bicentennial Torch Relay stopped at the sculpture, too.”
The sculpture is 10 feet high by 15 feet wide and weighs about three tons. It takes a lot of machinery to mold steel, but Flake is able to do the arch welding, plasma and torch cutting in his garage.
He credits his family for making it possible for him to create his art.
“I have a very understanding wife, but it was my sister-in-law, Sandy Mood, who has basically become my art manager,” he explained. “Sandy said to me, when she first saw my stuff, ‘You have to be seen and discovered.’”
Some of his first pieces were a life-sized eagle (estimated to have taken 750 hours), a fish (3,000 hours) and a scarecrow, as well as a menagerie of other animals. He also crafted a new bed frame for he and his wife.
“It’s a slow, tedious process and it’s a fairly expensive labor of love,” he said.
A community artist from Baltimore, Maryland, with roots in Danville, recently created a mural across from Danville’s courthouse that included Flake’s sculpture and name. The attention the sculpture has gotten Flake hasn’t been easy for him.
“I’m just a low-profile guy out here doing my thing,” he said.
A former underwater welder and commercial diver, Flake earned his degree in underwater construction from Highline Community College in Seattle, Washington. He has worked as a pipeline mechanic for Marathon Petroleum Corporation for 29 years.