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It’s ART, by George!
George Manus, Metal Cutter, Welder, Artist

March 31, 2016

George Manus, Metal Cutter, Welder, ArtistAbout a half a mile down the road from where we are camped there is a fenced property that, at first glance, looks like a junk yard. Walking the dogs the other morning, I discovered it was anything but.

Behind the eight foot high chain link fence topped with strands of barbed wire lay a world of strange creatures and mysterious objects. A crowded village full of giant birds made out of old farm machinery, horses welded together from chrome bumpers and trim, whimsical rusting reptiles and strange vehicles.

Instead of canvas, paints and brushes whoever this artist was, his palette consisted of old grills, gas tanks, empty military ordinance, bicycle wheels, saw blades, rakes, pots, stoves, oxygen cylinders, gears, plow blades, pulleys, metal tubing, rebar, hubcaps, engine blocks, metal stairs, industrial springs and rusting bicycles.

George Manus, Metal Cutter, Welder, Artist

There was also a super long, red ’59 Cadillac convertible that had been created from used parts for the Sonic Drive-In Chain to use in their commercials. It turned out that whenever they needed it, he would trailer it to the chosen location, meet up with the production team and talent and wait while the commercial was shot. George would then drive the engineless beast back to Albuquerque until its services were needed again. It was a good gig.

George Manus, Metal Cutter, Welder, Artist

I couldn’t wait to get back and draw those engaging sculptures. Unfortunately, the fierce Albuquerque winds came out of the desert and blew steadily at about 35 miles an hour - gusting to 50 for the next two days while we rocked around in the camper.

George Manus, Metal Cutter, Welder, Artist

On the third morning I was able to return with my sketchbook to draw some of the welded souls that stared silently at me through the fence.

I’d been sketching for about an hour when a well seasoned man came out of the building to see what I was up to. It was the sculptor, George Manus. His face looked as if it had just stepped out of an Edward Curtis Photograph1. Geronimo? Huge hands, long hair, beautiful eyes and solid as a rock. We introduced ourselves, he opened the gate and invited me come on in to sketch a while.

The next day George, who is half Native American, invited me into his studio. Sitting quietly in a salvaged dentist’s chair under a painting he saved from a restaurant undergoing demolition, he talked about the heavy work he used to do moving all the machine parts around and about driving his old pick-up through Kansas and Oklahoma. Driving across the plains, he would stop to pick up broken machinery when it called to him from abandoned yards and fields.

All the while he spoke, his 20-year old rescued cat, Tamar, was strolling around on his lap.

The place we are sitting was originally George’s Body Shop. Where once cars in need of repair stood about, a big camper and fishing boat are now parked. A rack full of fishing rods attests to the fact that he mostly just goes fishing now.

Many years ago a gallery dealer, noticing the sculptures outside the body shop, told him if he did exactly what he/the dealer said, George could support himself with his art within five years.

“Get a portfolio, have a website, enter shows…” It all came true. The first year he made a bit of money, the second year he broke even, and by the third year he was supporting himself and his family with his art. His work is now in collections all over the United States and several pieces are here in Albuquerque.

Brother Bear is mounted in the University of New Mexico Law Library.

Oso hangs out in a very upscale shopping center.

Silente Paisano stands beside a trail in Rio Grande Valley State Park

Even when George is not working, he comes to the shop every day to feed the six cats that he caught and had neutered. Now, they just hang around because they appreciate the art as much as the man who takes care of them.

1 Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian

Great story about a truly interesting guy. I have always admired junk art. Met a guy on Sonoma Mountain who creates "art cars" by attaching all manor of stuff to old Caddy's.

Glad to see you are still having fun.

Don G

Thank you for the story. George is our uncle and your right he is an amazing artist but he also is an amazing man full of wonderful stories. I'm so glad he shared some with you.

Larry & Gena B

An awesome article about this awesome person. Thank you for writing and capturing him and him and his talents. So glad you happened by and got to talk to him!


I can not thank you enough for this amazing artical! Words will never express how precious it is for me to read your words and while reading them my memories came flooding through my mind and fills my heart with love, joy, resecpt and so very many precious moments with my Dad, Mom, sister brothers, and neices, children, friends and so on.

Thank you, thank you! Can not wait to travel home again to be with them!

Georgia Manus

Hey! Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed the article about the junkyard sculptor. It's amazing what people find to do with their time and talent! Very cool.


Fabulous post, Peggy! Please let George know he has my undying admiration and respect - bravo to this man who makes beautiful things from all sorts of recycled stuff/cleaning up and adding beauty to our great big, messy world a day at a time.


Awesome! There are some people around still who do not belong to our modern throw-away society. You are proof in the pudding thatthere is so much to discover beyond the big cities and recognized centers of culture.


Next male dog: George.

Jon C

Love his stuff! Just visited the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, and his art would fit right in there! It's full of 'outsider' art, sculpture, paintings, constructions--a really neat place you should take in when you are back east. I'm sure everyone tells him he looks like his twin who wrote 'Folsom Prison Blues.' Aren't people wonderful?

Nancy W


Leah S.

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