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Salem 'Junk Collector' Twists Scrap Metal into Masterpieces

Salem 'junk collector' Herb Mackey's front yard is home to some truly amazing metal art.

Don't call Herb Mackey an artist - he prefers the title "junk collector". 

And while Mackey may not consider himself an artist, the whimsical scrap metal sculptures that are scattered across his Blaney Street yard can't be considered anything but works of art.

My recent transition from editing Marblehead Patch to running Salem Patch has meant devoting time each day to exploring the ins and outs of the city - and making a real effort to sniff out local feature pieces by getting lost on the sidestreets of Salem.

It was while looking for a good spot to capture a picture of a Salem Harbor sunset Tuesday morning that I stumbled across the hand-crafted metal monsters posed in front of Mackey's studio near the Salem Ferry.

A hand-painted sign posted on an unlocked front gate welcomed me in for a tour of the property and a mannequin propped up in a chair wearing sunglasses and a hat scared me half to death.

It didn't take long to notice that guests to this hidden outdoor gallery are encouraged to tour the grounds and leave with a piece of art - all they have to do is slip the money through the mail slot.

A welcome sign of faith in humanity in an age of shoplifters and stolen scrap metal.

After photographing some of the weathered metal sculptures, I called a phone number posted in one of the studio's front windows in the hopes of getting permission to publish the pictures.

"Do whatever you want," Mackey said, wishing me a happy visit.

When I asked him if he was the artist responsible for these one-of-a-kind sculptures and decorative door-knockers, his response was "I'm not an artist, I'm just a junk collector."

After touring this unique Salem property, I'd beg to differ.

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Click through the photo gallery above for a virtual tour around this awesome outdoor metal art gallery.

pamela correnti January 16, 2013 at 06:02 PM
You are very creative and you turn "junk" into art, great job, would love to see it all!
Cwheels January 16, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Owen, When it comes to what's under Salem no one knows more than the guy you talked to on the phone, I bet he could tell some interesting stories. Patch series?
Thomas Stirling January 16, 2013 at 09:46 PM
I was just down there looking at those the other day, pretty cool stuff. I always stop to look when im taking the ferry in the summer months.
Dan Faust January 16, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Give him a show at the Peabody Essex Museum!
Owen Boss (Editor) January 17, 2013 at 02:43 AM
That's a great idea!
Christine January 19, 2013 at 01:56 AM
I live across the street from Mr. Mackey. I love him and his creations! Here's another article about him: http://www.wickedlocal.com/salem/news/x1817127612#axzz2INlKdpcq And here's a cool video about him: http://vimeo.com/50794655
Kelly Spangler April 03, 2013 at 10:43 PM
I always walk by when doing my laundry. :) So cool!
karen struck May 09, 2013 at 11:42 PM
I am from stoughton ma and want to buy a couple things. How do I get ahold of him

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