When first walking into Swamp Gas and Gossamer: Lost and Found Emporium, my initial reaction was of being transported into some kind of alternate universe, a universe full of quirky creatures and extraordinary machines. And that is exactly the kind of place that the owner and designer, Les Sunde, wants it to be.
Swamp Gas and Gossamer is an art installation in Old Town Fort Collins that has been in place for roughly six years. The statement on the front window encapsulates the general feel of the place: “Strange things for strange people. Strangers Welcome.”
When asked why he decided to transform this little shop into a world of wacky creations, Sunde grabbed a giant pole with a net on the end and clamped it over a crystal that was hanging from the ceiling. He explained that this was how he went around ‘catching’ stories and that he wanted to create the things that went along with his stories.
“Strange Things for Strange People. Strangers Welcome.”
Sunde also explains that his shop has no purpose other than to inspire people and instill them with a sense of childlike wonder and awe. Furthermore, it allows him to build genuine connections and have honest conversations with people who are not motivated by money or self-interest. He wants to show that art is meant to be a way to live and not necessarily a way to make a living.
Sunde truly does live by this statement. His residence in Bellevue, an old school bus, has been converted into a wondrous world full of his many creations. There are even brass horns and whistles and bells on top of the bus that continually play a stream of music for people who pass by.
When asked what advice he has for aspiring artists and writers, Sunde said, “Be comfortable enough to be you.” Sunde understands that many people see him as simply “an old kook,” but he reflected that if he had listened to all the things other people told him, he wouldn’t have gotten to where he is today. Sunde also spoke of writing in layers, of building stories that aren’t just surface level, but that have depth and meaning in the details.
If you are experiencing writer’s block or if you feel like you need a bit of wonderment in your life, I recommend heading down to Swamp Gas and Gossamer (located at 218 Pine Street) on a Friday or Saturday night for an experience you won’t forget!