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Life is short and you need to do what you wanna do, what you have a passion for… The thing is you gotta dream big and that’s all there is, you just gotta dream big…  Ritch Branstrom

While on a trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan recently, we stayed at a little fishing camp in Rapid River.  Right at the corner of a rural road where we turned off US 41 to reach our cabin (okay, they’re all rural, but stay with me here),   was this wonderful trio of found object art sculptures bearing silent weedy testimony to some remarkable area artist.  We passed the artful lot the first couple of days without doing more than slowing down appreciatively.  Finally, I just had to take a closer look.

I could only get to the dog sculpture, a beautiful monument to repurposed ingenuity.IMG_0037 With a boat for a belly, old car hoods and head lights for a head and eyes, sides shingled with old license plates, and magnificent bent wood legs, the roadside sculpture was a a marvel to behold.

On a shipping container behind it, perched a giant metallic mosquito and IMG_0049beyond that, a great rusty heron.

When we got home, I went on an Internet scavenger hunt to try to track down the artist and the story behind these wonderful sculptures.  The father of Lucky Dog, as the sculpture appears to be called, is Michigan artist Ritch Branstrom, who has also done a great TEDx talk on Envisioning Potentials as a Found Object Artist . Mr. Branstrom is the consummate maker, the epitome of the not only the self-made man, but the fortunate adherent of the passion based career.

He struggled to conform to the expectations of others and of society, with the grades to show for it while in school. But when he followed his dreams, he found his voice and stunning ways to articulate his vision and inspire others in the process.  Thanks, Mr. Branstrom, for enriching our travels, for giving us fantastic news ways of looking at old things, and for reminding us, yet again,  of the power of following our passions.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpBp8NS_EIQ]