Reception tonight for opening of century-old nails exhibit at the Firehouse Arts Center

Artist Gary Winter taps out Kolln Hardware, where square nails were discovered

A reception will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday for the opening of Pleasanton Art League's autumn exhibit at the Firehouse Arts Center, which features nail art by Gary Winter, Gary Winter, locally renowned for his wood miniatures of historic buildings.

The exhibit will be on display through Oct. 24

Winter, who will talk about his latest tribute to yesteryear Pleasanton, will be at Tuesday evening's reception.

The artist has tapped thousands of nails into a depiction of the old Kolln Hardware store on Main Street at Division -- using square nails that were found in the dust of the old flooring when the 1898 building underwent extensive renovations a few years ago.

"Over 5,000 nails and a few hundred hours and the lost square nails have found a home," Winter said, noting that he is thrilled with the result.

Winter gives equal credit for the creation to building owner Bud Cornett, who spent a small fortune renovating the old hardware store.

"Bud found the nails scattered in the dirt and had the foresight and imagination to repurpose them," Winter said. "If he hadn't saved that building, it would be falling over by now. We both love that building crazily."

Cornett handed over buckets of the nails to Winter last September and requested the artwork.

"He said, 'There are only three or four nail artists in the whole world, and I happen to know one who lives right here in town and loves the building,'" Winter recalled.

Winter began tapping away in January after extensive preparatory work on the 3-foot by 3-1/2-foot redwood board and meticulously cleaning the handmade nails. The century-old nails were a challenge.

"The square nails are flat," Winter explained. "The shank is a wedge shape, not round like nails today."

He drilled a minute hole for each nail before he tapped it in so the wood would not split.

"I was putting square nails into round holes," he said. "It took me about two weeks of staring at the wood, figuring it out."

The historic nails numbered 1,500, but Winter needed another 700, which he ordered from a nail factory on the East Coast.

"They were kind of like oblong or a rounded square, so I had to take each one of the nails and smack it on my anvil to make it square," Winter said.

He used these to create the awning of the store.

He tapped another 2,200 new, round finishing nails in three small sizes for the detail work, including what can be glimpsed through the store's windows -- the aisles, counter and Tiffany-style lamps it sold.

"I put a gazillion holes in there -- that's what made it fun when it turned out like it did," Winter said. "For the square nails, I had to take needle-nose pliers and twist every single nail so they were little squares in a line."

Winter, who also painted the mural on the side of Strizzi's restaurant, has been doing nail art for years. He tapped out a presidential seal using more than 6,000 nails for President Ronald Reagan and has sold five pieces to Ripley's Believe It Or Not! His 4-foot by 4-foot spreading oak tree hangs on the wall at Tully's.

Olivia Quadros talked to Winter at Tully's about his latest nail art.

"Gary told me that 'the nails literally explained to me how they were covered up under a pile of dirt for 120 years after the building had originally opened,'" Quadros reported. "'The nails were full of purpose yet they never had a chance to carry out what they were intended to do. Now, the nails can finally tell their story.'"

In an interview last week, Winter -- whose artistic synapses fire continually -- urged people to bring children to see his latest nail art at the Firehouse.

"It's so important for the kids to see art that's different. You don't have to have a paint brush," he said. "Art comes in all shapes and materials, and it is what imagination is all about."

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8 people like this
Posted by Bryan Moran
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 27, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Just like our great downtown and great schools it is easy to take for granted our good fortune. Pleasanton is truly lucky to have an active artistic community. The arts should be supported so it can grow and benefit us all.

4 people like this
Posted by Dave Walden
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2015 at 8:26 am

Dave Walden is a registered user.

Gary is a true artist in so many ways.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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