Coquille looking to purchase handmade carousel

COOS COUNTY, Ore. -- The Ken Means carousel exhibit will end soon at the Coos Art Museum, one community is working to keep the art on permanent display.

They are animals bearing a smile, a frog you can literally climb on and many more. It's all the work of south coast artist Ken Means. "I can't put it into words," Means said. "When I walk into here, when I come here, I never get to see them all together. It's impressive to me. I can't believe that I did it this far anyway."

Means said he only intended to work on one horse, but it quickly became an entire carousel. He said in order for any community to get the carousel, they must help him finish it.

"I've been working on this for almost 12 years," Means said. "I can't finish this by myself. I'm not a mechanic. I'm not an electrician. Someone who can do those things has to step up and make sure that the machinery side of this is going to work."

Means said he is 75% finished with a complete carousel, but with the project taking so long, he is unsure if the mechanical structure he purchased years ago when he started the project is still operable.

"There's more to the carousel than just buying the pieces I carved," he said.

Means is requiring any buyer to house the carousel indoors and out of the rain and other natural elements.

This exhibit will end soon and the the animals will go back into storage, hopefully to be displayed again soon.

Right now, momentum is growing to get these animals out of the museum and on to a real carousel, especially in Means' hometown of Coquille. "It's the heart of Coos County and there is a legacy of industry in timber and and forestry, and so the wood carved animals go right along with that history and culture," said Coquille's city manager, Ben Marchant.

A Coquille citizens group has already raised $4,000 to buy the carousel carvings, trying to make it a new centerpiece for the town. Coquille residents have formed an action committee and will meet again next month.

Marchant said the citizens group is just trying to raise money to purchase the carousel from Means, and will focus on the final location at a later date.

"It could be downtown. It could be on the Riverwalk," he said. "We are just looking into the basics right now and getting the people and the resources together."

Some Coos Bay residents have also expressed interest in making the carousel a permanent part of their town, but so far Coquille is the only city on the South Coast taking action.

Means says he is willing to sell the carousel, valued at $1 million, to an interested south coast town for $150,000.

150-thousand dollars.