By Seth Daniel
Will Corcoran is no artist, or at least that’s what he thought.
In fact, creating art was the furthest thing from his mind until two years ago, when an art career on the side seemingly sought him out and dumped unexpected success on his front garden.
Corcoran lives on the busy corner of Pembroke and Warren Streets and has become famous in the South End for putting up magnificent human forms created by hand out of screen wire and hex wire, leaving them outside in his little front garden for all to see and changing them up about every week. Neighbors and passers-by, and even those on the web, have grown to love his subtle creations that very accurately mimic human forms doing everything from diving for the Olympics to dancing in a Brother’s Grimm fairly tale.
Had he thrown out an old screen in the back room two years ago, none of this excitement would have ever happened to him, he said.
“About two years ago I had some time to kill and had some Home Depot screen stored in the back room,” Corcoran said, noting that his real profession has been as a personal trainer for the last 30 years. “I didn’t want to throw it out so I decided to make something out of it. I didn’t have any sculpting experience. It’s not my profession at all. I started working with the screen and created this human form and took it over to my mother’s house. My brother said, ‘You have something there.’ My mother said, ‘That scares me.’ My brother told me that that you have something if you get different reactions. So, I kept going with it. However, it all started to gel last June, in 2015, when I put my first sculpture outside. Since then, even in the winter, about every 10 days, I’ve been putting stuff up in the garden space outside.”
The reaction from the public has been way more positive than he ever expected.
Those walking by have commented to him regularly about how much they like it, and even gentlemen coming out of the liquor store with a little too much under their belts have asked him what’s up next. Kids in the neighborhood flock to it, and families make an effort to pass by and see what’s new.
Corcoran said part of the magic of it is the feeling of anticipation and ongoing adventure.
“It’s not just seeing what’s out there at the moment and appreciating that,” he said. “Part of it I have found is the anticipation of what’s coming next. That’s an interesting concept. Everyone who comes by knows that on Monday morning or so, there will be something new when they come by. That’s different than a bust or a statue that stays the same all the time. There is this element of anticipation that is really part of it all.”
Corcoran spends his free time on weekends sculpting the forms in the second floor of his natural-light rich home on Pembroke Street. He said that if he’s not careful, he can wipe away 10 hours or more concentrating on forming a new piece. Using his knowledge of the human form from his profession, he uses his hands to shape the metal wire into a face, a leg, an arm or any other such part. He has created an entire series of princesses and characters from the original Brother’s Grimm tales. And he has created special pieces lately that celebrate the Olympics, one that features divers in a diving position and another that highlights a gymnast on the rings.
Things, however, began to take off when more and more people began to see his work and it got spread on the Internet.
He sold a piece at the Provincetown Art Association, and he has several works displayed in a store at SoWa on Harrison Avenue. He had a show of 19 figures, the Brother’s Grimm pieces, at the South End Public Library, and he is about to have a professional show as part of the Provincetown Art Association.
“This has all been a very ongoing, exciting adventure,” he said. “I’m telling you now, I cannot draw. I couldn’t even color within the lines as a kid. If someone would have told me three years ago that this would happen to me, I would have said they were out of their minds. I’ve decided to have fun with it. I didn’t think it was very good at all, but people told me it was very good. I had no idea. To have something like this happen is really enjoyable because I expect nothing from it and I’m constantly surprised.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the appreciation and respect that the neighborhood and those passing through have had for his screen sculptures. To date, no one has touched or vandalized even a portion of the figures.
“Not once has anything happened,” he said. “No one bothers it. The whole neighborhood supports it. I’ve even had people from the liquor store half in the bag ask me what I am going to put up next. It’s all walks of life that enjoy this. I was nervous at first about that, but I had to let go and it’s been exciting to see everyone so respectful.”
To see the latest piece from Will Corcoran, just swing by the corner of Pembroke and Warren in the South End.