Although the keeping of chickens has been prohibited by the village of Cazenovia, a flock of mechanized fowl has found its way onto Albany Street.
Valentina Heishman, a local artist and associate at Amanda Bury Antiques, combined found wood, metal and other organic materials to create a large sculpture which she describes as an adult-sized, retro, chicken-pecking toy, entitled “Feed the Chickens.” The piece is currently on display outside of Bury’s business at 97 Albany St.
“One day I had the idea for the piece and just started looking for stuff,” Heishman said. “These chickens alternate pecking using centripetal force. My mind isn’t attuned to math, so I had a fun time trying to figure out the angles I needed to make everything work. I like the idea of people taking a few minutes to look at everything and explore its function as they pass by.”
The idea of viewer-involvement first came to Heishman after one of her recent works “Small Town on the Lake” became more of a tactile experience than a “look-don’t-touch” sculpture.
While the Feed the Chickens has not yet been claimed by any local art collectors, Heishman has been successfully selling her artwork at Bury’s shop. She recently sold one of her pieces entitled “St. Francis” to an area resident, and plans on producing more, due to high demand.
Her habit of using organic and repurposed materials separates her work apart from many other artists and often brings to mind the adage “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Her pieces can often be classified as eco-outsider art, as much of the material she uses is natural and found on outdoor excursions and once-occupied areas.
Heishman has woven miles of grapevine from Owera Vineyards’ fields into custom bottle carriers for the winery’s clients, and has become a familiar face at the local landfill on Constine Bridge Road, where she said she occasionally goes to rescue interesting objects from certain demise. Heishman largely credits the “generous donors” and “understanding employees” of the landfill for facilitating her increasingly interesting works.
Also an experienced jewelry artist, a number of pieces from Heishman’s “recycled jewelry” line can be found in Amanda Bury’s shop, along with about a dozen of her uniquely-titled sculptures.
“It’s wonderful having Val around,” Bury said. “It’s always fun, and we collaborate on lots of pieces, like the eyes hanging outside my shop, for instance.”
“If Amanda likes it, I know it’s good,” Heishman said.
Sculpting has come as a cathartic practice for Heishman in recent years, as her struggle with Multiple Sclerosis waxes and wanes. Having moved to Cazenovia with her family six years ago, she quickly became a familiar face in the Cazenovia art scene. She is a member of Cazenovia Arts as well as a volunteer driver for CRIS-CAT, and has been known to make the short trip up Albany Street and lend a hand to at Tizzy’s and Flowers on Main.
Also an avid gardener, Heishman said she will continue to pursue new materials and create more artwork while juggling her numerous responsibilities. She can be found behind the counter at Amanda Bury Antiques every Thursday. To contact the store, call 655-3326 or visit amandaburyantiques.com.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.