Hubbell's RubbleJerry Hubbell (1935 - 2021)
Highway 99, Howard, Kansas, 67349, United States
This site is located on Highway 99 (between East Adams & East Jefferson Streets) in Howard, Kansas.
About the Artist/Site
Jerry Hubbell had worked in banking for twelve years before starting his own farming business in 1980. That same year, taking welding lessons in order to learn how to mend implements for his farm, he came to enjoy the welding process. Once needed repairs were finished, Hubbell began to “experiment.” Soon he was reshaping discarded metal scraps into cowboy-driven stagecoaches, purple dragons, Batman-ridden motorcycles, and more. He says he has spent next to nothing on his raw materials, and, as his sculptures began to attract attention, people would bring or offer new possibilities for his welding torch: for example, the stagecoach was made from a partially-buried Model A car frame Hubbell winched out of a friend’s field. He gets his ideas from the shapes of his recycled found materials, and besides pop culture icons like Snoopy, Batman, and a triple life-sized Tin Man, he has also been inspired by a lifelong affinity for western culture. As a young boy he rode horses to school, and these days he cuts a tall, lean, Stetson-topped figure in blue jeans and cowboy boots.
Hubbell has had little trouble with vandalism, although an old log book from his banking days showing hundreds of visitors from all over the U.S. (and a few other countries) was once taken from the site’s (decorative) outhouse/visitors center. A few months later it re-appeared overnight, right back in place, but Hubbell then replaced it with a notebook for safekeeping. Additional outhouse reading material includes articles from local papers and travel magazines on his sculptures, as well as a front page story from the Wall Street Journal.
Hubbell’s 1980 welding lessons were as close as he ever got to any art training, but growing up around Hubbell’s Rubble may have had its own effects: his daughter is an art teacher, and his granddaughter currently attends Savannah College of Art and Design. Hubbell himself has retired from his part-time real estate business, and has mostly retired from farming as well. Doctor’s orders after a 2001 heart attack put an end to his welding pleasures, but he continues to lease the land on which Hubbell’s Rubble is located in exchange for keeping it well-manicured. He supplies the paint, and every couple of years an artist/painter friend freshens up the sculptures. “It’s there for entertainment, especially for children to get a knee-slapping kick out of,” he says. And entertaining it is: Hubbell and his welding torch have created enough characters that they seem to populate a backlot prairie musical.
Visitors are welcome on the property of Hubbell’s Rubble, but the house is the private residence of the landowner. Jerry Hubbell lives about ten miles away.
Update, February 2021: Jerry Hubbell passed away on February 3, 2021. Link to obituary here.
Map & Site Information
Howard, Kansas, 67349 us
Latitude/Longitude: 37.4699845 / -96.2532558
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