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Wire you sculpting?

"Bending wire helped my creative brain not go crazy," says Wireman

Spenser Little's art at bottom of the I-5 Grapevine, December 16, 2015
Spenser Little's art at bottom of the I-5 Grapevine, December 16, 2015

On December 30, I.B. Long was doing his weekly assessment of graffiti and other maintenance issues along Newport Avenue for the local business association. Long had seen the wire man in the sky attached to the streetlight at Newport and Cable a few weeks earlier.

"Why is this art any more acceptable than anyone else's? Where is a line drawn?"

"It caught my eye again,” Long said, “because the angle and light were perfect. I was initially surprised that it had survived for as long as it has since most cool or nice things in Ocean Beach are quickly stolen or broken. But it's in a rather inaccessible location up high where most can't easily reach it, much less see it.

"It is, however, graffiti in a strict sense. I'm a little torn about it. If we leave it up then we set a precedent for allowing guerrilla art, or, in other words, graffiti and non-permitted use of public property. Why is this art any more acceptable than anyone else's? Where is a line drawn? The business association is unaware of the art and my company hasn't decided what to do at this point."

On January 1, Spenser Little, the creator of the wire art, said, "I left that piece a couple months ago. I love to leave them in unusual places, where the eye will see them when looking up into the sky. I leave them everywhere I go — at least one a day for the past ten years."

Crosby Dock, November 21, 2015

When asked if the wire man in the sky on Newport is of anyone in particular, Little said, "I rarely work from reference; it's all out of my head. I've done hundreds of designs. I used to do calligraphy. I really love fonts and I leave a lot of one-liners around town, too."

Little's art requires few materials. He needs a pair of pliers and some steel wire. He takes one piece of wire and without any breaks sculpts his art. Little says, "It's a mix of playing chess and doing illustration. I love the problem-solving aspect of it. I'll sometimes add in moving components and multiple wires if it's funny, but all the larger pieces are one continuous wire."

The impetus for leaving his wire sculptures around town started in the late 1990s. Little said, "I was living in South Park on Fern Street with a woman that told me I had to get rid of them. I definitely had a surplus. I make between 20 to 30 sculptures a day, so I started to attach them to street signs around town."

Since then, Little has left his wire sculptures all over the world, including atop the Eiffel Tower, in the ghettos of Eastern Europe, at the bottom of caves, and in rest-stop toilets everywhere. Little said about the latter, "I know no one else will probably see them except the maintenance guy, but they leave an interesting print from the flushing over time."

Siskyou Mountain Pass I-5, December 15, 2015

Little said he also slips his art into people's bags in elevators and into the hoodies of those at bars. "I like the idea of someone being surprised by finding art."

Little said he became obsessed with bending wire 15 years ago, while working in the biotech industry in Sorrento Valley. The monotony of his job led him to both surf and bend wire on his lunch breaks. Little said, "Bending wire helped my creative brain not go crazy. Instead of complaining, I would bend my grievance into a wire joke."

Little says he feels most comfortable when working with wire. He will even stand in line at the bank and shape wire. He calls it "man-knitting."

Originally from East County San Diego, Little has left his art in affluent communities like La Jolla over the years, but now wants to be more conscious about leaving it more often in places that don't have a lot of funding for the arts. (More images of Little's work around town.)

Little is part of an artist collective that will be taking over a Barrio Logan apartment building on January 16 to show their work.

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Spenser Little's art at bottom of the I-5 Grapevine, December 16, 2015
Spenser Little's art at bottom of the I-5 Grapevine, December 16, 2015

On December 30, I.B. Long was doing his weekly assessment of graffiti and other maintenance issues along Newport Avenue for the local business association. Long had seen the wire man in the sky attached to the streetlight at Newport and Cable a few weeks earlier.

"Why is this art any more acceptable than anyone else's? Where is a line drawn?"

"It caught my eye again,” Long said, “because the angle and light were perfect. I was initially surprised that it had survived for as long as it has since most cool or nice things in Ocean Beach are quickly stolen or broken. But it's in a rather inaccessible location up high where most can't easily reach it, much less see it.

"It is, however, graffiti in a strict sense. I'm a little torn about it. If we leave it up then we set a precedent for allowing guerrilla art, or, in other words, graffiti and non-permitted use of public property. Why is this art any more acceptable than anyone else's? Where is a line drawn? The business association is unaware of the art and my company hasn't decided what to do at this point."

On January 1, Spenser Little, the creator of the wire art, said, "I left that piece a couple months ago. I love to leave them in unusual places, where the eye will see them when looking up into the sky. I leave them everywhere I go — at least one a day for the past ten years."

Crosby Dock, November 21, 2015

When asked if the wire man in the sky on Newport is of anyone in particular, Little said, "I rarely work from reference; it's all out of my head. I've done hundreds of designs. I used to do calligraphy. I really love fonts and I leave a lot of one-liners around town, too."

Little's art requires few materials. He needs a pair of pliers and some steel wire. He takes one piece of wire and without any breaks sculpts his art. Little says, "It's a mix of playing chess and doing illustration. I love the problem-solving aspect of it. I'll sometimes add in moving components and multiple wires if it's funny, but all the larger pieces are one continuous wire."

The impetus for leaving his wire sculptures around town started in the late 1990s. Little said, "I was living in South Park on Fern Street with a woman that told me I had to get rid of them. I definitely had a surplus. I make between 20 to 30 sculptures a day, so I started to attach them to street signs around town."

Since then, Little has left his wire sculptures all over the world, including atop the Eiffel Tower, in the ghettos of Eastern Europe, at the bottom of caves, and in rest-stop toilets everywhere. Little said about the latter, "I know no one else will probably see them except the maintenance guy, but they leave an interesting print from the flushing over time."

Siskyou Mountain Pass I-5, December 15, 2015

Little said he also slips his art into people's bags in elevators and into the hoodies of those at bars. "I like the idea of someone being surprised by finding art."

Little said he became obsessed with bending wire 15 years ago, while working in the biotech industry in Sorrento Valley. The monotony of his job led him to both surf and bend wire on his lunch breaks. Little said, "Bending wire helped my creative brain not go crazy. Instead of complaining, I would bend my grievance into a wire joke."

Little says he feels most comfortable when working with wire. He will even stand in line at the bank and shape wire. He calls it "man-knitting."

Originally from East County San Diego, Little has left his art in affluent communities like La Jolla over the years, but now wants to be more conscious about leaving it more often in places that don't have a lot of funding for the arts. (More images of Little's work around town.)

Little is part of an artist collective that will be taking over a Barrio Logan apartment building on January 16 to show their work.

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Comments
4

I saw a few of these at Scripps Institute of Oceanography a few years ago. Really cool - I can't imagine the patience and talent required to put one of these up. Beautiful and unique!

Jan. 2, 2016

Thank you for sharing your vision and talent with us. Keep up the random acts of art. I love it!

Jan. 3, 2016

I find it hard to understand how everybody seems to endorse someone who tells us he litters/graffitis to the order of 4,000 times. "At least one a day for ten years". Perhaps this reaction is just my libertarian inner self rising up. But... I then read the he likes to reverse pick-pocket strangers in public. I hope he gets punched squarely in the face the next time he reaches his grubby hands into someone's purse or coat.

Jan. 9, 2016

Awesome stuff.

Jan. 18, 2016

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