Amidst the Metallic Ruins
A slithering dragon coils around the ceiling and gives a devilish grin to those who dare look at it. Its flaming eyes stare at the patrons sitting in their seats, anxiously awaiting their food.
Welcome to Buffington’s.
Clair Guy, multi-media artist and front house and bar manager for Buffington’s, and Matt McGee, local blacksmith, welder and industrial artist, challenge themselves with their art by finding disposed items and creating 3-D collages with them.
“No one asked us to do this,” Guy said. “It’s a love of collecting things and wanting to give them a second life. We live in a disposable society today, and it’s a holler back to our grandparents’ time where if something broke, you wouldn’t throw it away; you’d fix it.”
Each piece on the left-side wall gives homage to the evolution of America.
“The way to honor something is to keep it, not to throw it out,” McGee said.
The first piece along the left-sidewall represents the evolution of indoor plumbing and how it brought homestead further. Included in the collage are antique cooking instruments, an inkwell, old insulators and heating units, furniture pieces, a faucet and a copper toilet float.
“’Bringing In’ represents the dichotomy cultures that have lived off of our rivers,” Guy said. At the top of the piece is a melted green glass bottle, which holds an old photograph behind it. Bits and pieces are made from pieces of a deteriorated branch.
This piece showcases the advent of electricity. It is made up of insulators which control the flow of electricity, lightning rods used by farmers to keep lighting from striking crops, an antique light bulb with taxidermy blue-jay wings sprouting from the sides and a pair of doll arms at the bottom of the piece which mimic the wings. “The doll parts come from a doll factory which burned down,” Guy said. “Matt managed to salvage some parts.”
One of Guy’s favorite pieces, “Horseless Carriage” showcases a lot of local history, mainly that of Royce Veal of Deepstep, Ga. Most of the parts on the piece – which include part of a conversion kit, steering column from a Model-T and movable gears – come from Veal’s shop. The boards that hold the pieces come from McGee’s dealership. The numbers are old serial numbers to separate different parts from different automobiles. “Instead of throwing it all out, we wanted to honor the work that has been done by our industrious forefathers,” Guy added.
Ores Gone Wild
“Ores Gone Wild” represents the progression of man taking ore and refining it to make it useful. The outer frame is the arch of an old fireplace. The stone is made of iron ore and raw materials from the ground and came from a steelyard in Atlanta. The freeform is slag, which is an industrial leftover.
The last piece along the left-side wall represents man’s ultimate quest to harness fire. The iron ladles have glass coming out of them, which represents the process of alchemy. The piece is also made up of tongs, dividers, scroll work and stove parts. “The end pieces of the wall are what have built the world,” McGee said. “Everything you touch has been formed. Clean water and fire is in our blood and veins.”
The piece on the right-side wall is known as “Player’s Pursuit.” This piece is dedicated to Guy’s brother, Crane, who died in June 2011 and was big in music in Milledgeville. The main piece was once a female grand piano from Georgia Military College. McGee found the piano in one of the ballrooms and could not find anyone who could tune it. He took it apart and used the inside. The sound waves are forged out of steel, which represents the progression of music. There are glass rivets on the piece that represent the different genres of music.
Unfortunately, not everyone notices the art Guy and McGee have created for Buffington’s.
“It’s amazing how many regulars still don’t notice the art,” Guy said.
“I haven’t noticed the art because the only time I have been there was at Deep Roots, and it was very populated,” Eric Pratt, junior mass communication major, said.
Still, this does not deter Guy and McGee from selling their pieces.
“Our pieces are detachable, so if you buy them and want to change them up, you can take it apart and reattach it any way you like,” Guy said. “There’s also hidden hardware so pieces won’t fall on you.”
Fortunately, sales do not dictate their pieces, and they work from the heart.
“Artwork helps me filter out who I should deal with and who I want to help out,” McGee said.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” Guy said, “and we want to honor our ancestry.”