Wild Bill's Adding Boat Installation

Attention boat owners: If you don't want your boat any more, Wild Bill's in Middletown does.

Attention boat owners: If you don't want your boat any more, Wild Bill's in Middletown does.

Joe McCarthy, an artist who has his studio at the 1003 Newfield St. nostalgia store, is working on a long-term found-object art project. He planted seven boats into the clay soil on the 45-acre property, as if the boats are disappearing nose-down into quicksand. He then cleaned up the boats and let his friend George Frick paint them in wild multicolor. But McCarthy wants more.

"I hope for a total of 15 or 16 boats," says McCarthy, of Higganum. "I envision a field of boats rolling into the waves in a field of blue wildflowers, like a pool of sinking boats in the field."

He was inspired by Maya Lin's "Wave Field," which he saw at Storm King in New Windsor, N.Y., a few years back. "I was so taken by the artist's ability to change the landscape simply by moving dirt," he says.

It'll take McCarthy a long time to do this. He started about a year and a half ago with two boats given to him by Bill Ziegler, who owns the store and the property. Ziegler encouraged McCarthy to go big with the project.

They are seeking donations of old boats, without gas tanks or engines. "We don't want anything that will pollute the ground," Ziegler says.

People who ask inside the store can wander back into the meadow to see the work in progress. Visitors even can leave their mark on the boats with a little paint, says McCarthy. Some already have.

"I want the boats to gain a history from the people who come to see it," he says.

Visitors, however, are advised against climbing on the boats.

Ziegler can be contacted at 860-635-1226

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