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Folk art finds home at Heritage Center

What do you get when you combine beautiful wood with spare parts from old typewriters and adding machines?

The answer: A piece of folk art that has found a permanent home at the New Richmond Heritage Center.

Bill Driscoll, New Richmond, recently completed an "assemblage" depicting a weeping willow tree using parts from antique business machines.

The idea for the project originated from New Richmond's former official logo, which included a depiction of a green weeping willow and the words "The City Beautiful."

Driscoll started the project by salvaging the trunk of a local weeping willow that was recently removed by a local tree service.

He took the trunk to an acquaintance with a band saw and had the wood sliced into slabs. He secured the slabs of wood together to create a natural wood canvas for his assemblage.

Driscoll then approached the Heritage Center to see if he might be able gather up several old typewriters and adding machines for his art project. He spent hours dismantling the old business machines and used keys, gears, ribbons and more to create a weeping willow on the wooden boards.

On the bottom of the assemblage are typewriter keys that spell out the words "The City Beautiful."

According to Mary Sather, curator of the Heritage Center, the organization's flea market has always been a popular place for people to locate items they can recycle into art projects.

"Bill found materials that he could recycle into his willow tree project," she said. "It's an amazing piece of folk art, and I do mean amazing."

As Driscoll unveiled his assemblage at a short ceremony Friday at the Heritage Center, he said he's proud of the history wrapped up in the piece.

"I think our forefathers and early settlers would still proclaim, keep this majestic weeping willow and saying 'The City Beautiful' as a proverb to a city in which I have grown up," he said.

The assemblage is currently on display in the Heritage Center's blacksmith shop.