Someone once said, “Artists are the first and last to speak.” Well, one artist in Mountain Center, CA, is speaking out about the current state of traffic around his metal sculpture garden. There’s too many motorcycle accidents happening there, he said.
About two years ago, CalTrans, along with a contractor, attempted to fix the curve on the road from Mountain Center leading up to Idyllwild, CA. They widened the road and added caution stripping to the middle, but many accidents still happen there.
“They fixed the road, so people think they can go faster now,” said Dore Capitani, a metal sculptor whose shop sits at the end of the curve. He closes his eyes and sighs. He’s seen his share of motorcycle accidents.
One time, he said, the motorcycle rode right onto his property, near his metal building where he was working.
“The guy fell off it earlier, but the motorcycle came pretty fast around the curve and landed on my property,” Capitani said.
After that, he wasn’t taking any chances. With the help of Josh Whitney, who owns a tree cutting business in Idyllwild, they stacked up several huge wooden tree trunks that act as a barrier to his property. It kept the motorcycles from coming in, but didn’t stop the accidents from happening.
So last week, Capitani decided to put up a life-sized metal sculpture of a crashed motorcycle and attach it to the wooden tree stumps.
“I had an old junker motorcycle, and about three wheels laying around,” Capitani said. “So I made a crash sculpture.”
Well, some Idyllwild townsfolk and at least one CHP officer thought it was real, and became alarmed.
“One police officer came over the wood pile looking for the body,” Capitani said. “These guys are used to fighting crime, but he couldn’t see that the motorcycle was welded to the wood!”
“Then Larry from the hardware store said that I better add something to the sculpture because people were concerned,” Capitani added. “So I added the word, ‘OUCH!'”
“Ouch!” is welded next to the motorcycle in bright, red letters, so there’s no more confusion. But there’s still bad feelings.
He said that several motorcyclists have stopped by his art garden and said they weren’t happy with his sculpture.
“They don’t have to like it,” Capitani said.
He hopes that it might make a few motorcyclists and drivers stop and think about going too fast on that curve. It’s clearly marked “25 mph” on either end, but most of them go 50 mph.
One CHP officer, who was assigned up in Idyllwild for years, grew weary of the motorcycle accidents. When he was writing up a report about one, he asked the kid how fast he was going. The kid, who had a broken leg, didn’t lie.
“I was going 50 mph,” he said.
“It’s marked 35 mph,” the officer scolded. “That means 35 mph, not 36, not 37, but 35 mph.”
That motorcyclist was lucky that he only sustained a leg injury, but his bike was “totalled.”
Capitani’s motorcycle crash sculpture is located just after the curve in Mountain Center at 28815 Hwy. 243. Visit Dore’s Mountain Metals Sculpture Garden for other large metal and wood sculptures made by him or call (951) 659-0791.
Marcia E. Gawecki, author
Motorcycle Crash Sculpture Causes a Stir
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