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Aug 22, 2017 10:39 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Robert 'Mojo' Mojeski's Newest Moving Sculpture Runs On Solar Energy

Aug 22, 2017 10:49 AM

Anyone driving—or rather, sitting—in traffic on Montauk Highway between Water Mill and Sagaponack recently has likely marveled at the massive, colorful moving sculptures that just can’t help but catch one’s eye. To uncover the identity of the person responsible for these kinetic masterpieces powered by wind, look no further than the small welding studio on Mariner Drive in Southampton, where Robert Mojeski can be found hard at work.

The Southampton local known by many as “Mojo” is a commercial fisherman turned welding artist, but he didn’t leave behind his life on the sea entirely. Instead, Mr. Mojeski uses the fluidity of the ocean as a muse for his moving sculptures.

“It’s all about being fluid,” Mr. Mojeski explained. “After 15 years spent on the ocean, I carry that motion and try to display it on land.”

His latest project is a 1,500-pound Rube Goldberg-esque mechanism run entirely on solar energy. The piece uses solar panels to power a chain conveyor that carries to the top bowling balls, which are then dropped to race down the overlapping tracks. The concept is usually carried out on a much smaller scale, with marbles.

“I was looking for kinetic and I thought ‘I want to run bowling balls,’” Mr. Mojeski said. “I’ve seen pieces that run marbles but I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to do bowling balls.’”

While he’s mastered the skill of creating sculptures powered by wind, this is Mr. Mojeski’s first piece that moves with the help of the sun.

“I love that it’s green,” he said. “I don’t have to plug this in; it could go in the middle of a field or the desert and it doesn’t matter. It’s self-contained.”

Titled “Amateur Hour,” the seven-month-long project was moved from his studio to the Green Thumb Hayground Market in Water Mill, which is where one of his previous works, “Synopsis,” stood before it was moved to the Three Mile Harbor Boatyard in Springs as part of the “Summer of Sculpture” series hosted by Guild Hall.

With a complex sculpture like this, surely blueprints and plans would be drawn out months in advance to ensure a smooth building process. But Mr. Mojeski admitted he prefers to dive head first into a project with little preparation.

“There’s no real scale drawings or anything for this thing, it just came from my mind as I went along,” he said. “It’s not custom-built for anybody. I just built it because I wanted to show that this is my passion.”

Along with “Amateur Hour” and “Synopsis,” the 19-foot yellow ball held by a bowing red ladder called “Tipping Point XIX” can be seen along Montauk Highway in Sagaponack.

Mr. Mojeski’s influence doesn’t stop on the East End; he recently completed a project in Maryland where he cut a subway car into seven pieces to recycle into mall kiosks. This was a big step for him, he said, because it wasn’t a local job, and he had to move more than half of his shop and tools to complete the monthlong project. However, the innovative Mr. Mojeski returned to Southampton with more than he had left with.

“There were a lot of parts that went unused from the bottom of the subway car and I thought, ‘Let’s reclaim these, they’re awesome pieces,’” he explained. “So I took them back to the studio and I built a sculpture.”

All of Mr. Mojeski’s massive sculptures are up for sale—though for homes not quite suited to fit a 19-foot, 1,500-pound work of art, the artist also has smaller-scale works, such as an octopus created from a helium tank and a life-size horse crafted from scrap metal, on his website, robertmojo.com.

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