Lay artist ‘been recyclin’ before recyclin’ was even a word’
Art comes in many forms.
For some, it's a high-priced painting hanging in the Louvre.
For others, it comes as the product of years of working with one's hands.
Lee Hoth, 67, falls into the latter category.
But when Lee is asked whether he considers himself an artist, he laughs.
He says no.
He says he's more of a builder, more of a fixer, than an artist.
And yet, he creates all sorts of artwork - artwork made out of horseshoes.
He makes things like picture frames, Christmas cacti, table lamps, wall lamps, crosses, butterflies, flowers and lawn ornaments.
His studio, the place where he tinkers and tweaks and forms his creations is a barn on his property in Lay.
Lee, who spent 35 years working as a heavy-equipment operator, 22 of them at Trapper Mine, is a lifelong rancher. He's also a man of few words, and even fewer when it comes to talking about his art.
He describes his work, quite simply, as "just something to do and keep me from watchin' TV," he said, from under the brim of his brown cowboy hat.
His wife, Lois, is more talkative.
"I think it's great that he's doing it; I think it's wonderful," said Lois, who has been married to Lee for 42 years. "It gives him something in his retirement to keep him busy.
"Truthfully, I never even knew there was an artist in him, but he's pretty creative."
Lee grew up in Maybell, and 32 years ago moved to his home in Lay.
He retired in 1999. Looking around his place one day, he realized he had a number of horseshoes lying around.
With time on his hands, and a surplus of horseshoes, he went to work.
He said a builder's spirit was something that was instilled in him early on. It was something his father taught him, he said.
"I just would build something 'cause I needed it," Lee said. "Farmers and ranchers have been recyclin' before recyclin' was even a word."
His worker's spirit has driven most of what Lee fills his day with since retirement.
Lee has built most of the equipment in his shop.
And his artistic hobby that began as a time-filler to keep him away from the television has turned into something that even makes him a little money.
Lee said he goes through about five or six five-gallon buckets of horseshoes a year.
He acquires the horseshoes from friends around the area.
Lee said his hobby is something he works on every day, and some of his work is for sale at the Hayden Marketplace.
But, for Lee, art isn't about the money.
It's a hobby, and one it seems he's improving at.
Lois said she has seen Lee grow throughout the years with the different sculptures he produces.
"He started out just doing the simplest of things, and now he's making butterflies and flowers," Lois said. "People show him a picture of something and he can make it."
Hans Hallgren can be reached at 875-1792 or email@example.com.