Rusty scraps of metal, barrel rings, old bicycles, car parts and other scraps in John Azevedo’s Napa yard might look like junk.
But Azevedo knows otherwise.
For this Napan, these materials are parts for future sculptures and other works of art: Dog Muzzle. Moose head. A bird’s body.
“Just taking a bunch of ‘nonsense’ and turning it into art” means something to him, Azevedo said.
He has always been creative, this producer admitted. It runs in the family – his mother was “crafty” and made pottery and painted wooden figures.
Azevedo lived in Vallejo until he was about 14 years old before moving to Napa. At what is now Redwood Middle School, he took art classes and worked in a metal shop.
“I wasn’t … necessarily the best student,” he recalls, but he excelled in art and shop classes, typing and even ballroom dancing.
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After graduating from high school, he served in the Navy.
This Napan never worked as an artist per se. But he helped other people recreate things for a long time.
For many years, the family owned and operated Pacific Auto Salvage. Located on Highway 29 on the way to the American Canyon, it’s easy to spot because the front of the business features a car propped up by two 20-foot poles.
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In 2018, Azevedo and his family closed Pacific Auto Salvage. Today, he leases the land to Pick-n-Pull.
Since his retirement, Azevedo has been making more and more of his reworked sculptures.
One day his accountant had an offer. “He said, ‘John, you have a lot of expenses related to your hobby.'” If he sells his work, he may qualify for certain tax breaks.
He liked that idea, Azevedo said. Welding equipment and supplies aren’t cheap, he admitted.
At first he hoped to find a local dealer to sell his designs, but he didn’t have much luck.
Today, some of his sculptures are in Potter Green & Co., a retail store in Sonoma. Primarily, this manufacturer sells their work by word of mouth and email. He also posts his sculptures on NextDoor and Instagram.
During a recent tour of his 5-acre property, Azevedo pointed to just “some” of his supplies, including many, many car parts, metal fences, springs, old farm equipment and piles of wood.
“My problem is that things will rot before I get to them,” he readily admitted.
But it is difficult for him to refuse the “donations”.
“My wife thinks there’s something wrong with me,” he said with a laugh. Azevedo’s reasoning, however, is this: “Even if I don’t know what I can do with it, I’m still going to take it because I think could, could do something with it.
When asked where he gets his inspiration from, the artist pointed to other artists, his clients and social media.
“I’m not computer savvy, but Pinterest has a lot going on,” he said. “Now posting on Instagram” under the name F John Azevedo.
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When we travel, “we’ll usually try to find someone who makes sculptures in that city” to visit.
Although his parts look perfectly finished, Azevedo said he’s still perfecting his welding skills. He often makes horseshoe sculptures that require careful welding. He even has a rack in his home auto shop full of horseshoes waiting to be used.
The home shop is also home to several classic cars, including a 1921 Ford Model T, as well as boxes and boxes and boxes of old yard parts.
“I saved this oil pan in case I want to build another moose,” he said, pointing to one potential component of the sculpture. One of his larger pieces is a turtle made from a Volkswagen Beetle hood and other parts.
This manufacturer uses mostly metal, but also includes wood, such as leftover fence boards from the auto salvage business.
He likes to use metal because it lasts a long time. But “I’m not keen on painting” the metal, he admitted. His wife suggested he paint her sculptures, Azevedo said. “I’m like, ‘Well, I’ve got to see what happens.’
For Azevedo, the shape of the metal piece also dictates his visions. For example, when welded together, two pairs of old pliers become the legs and arms of a dancer, he said. Looking at a pile of horseshoes, I “see wings.”
To contact John Azevedo, email [email protected]
Photos: Napan John Azevedo makes art from old car parts
Reporter Jennifer Huffman can be reached at 707-256-2218 or [email protected]