The Suitcase Lady


April 14, 2009, 5:15 pm

Our yard hosts a dinosaur, a gigantic bird holding barbells in his wings, a parade of metal cats climbing a driftwood pole, a four foot tall racing rabbit and a turquoise beastie.

Last summer I added a blue bottle tree, providing an excellent reason for drinking lots of Riesling.

Needless to say, I do not live in a gated community or a suburb with restrictive covenants.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating yard decor of old, rusting vehicles, piles of tires and collections of left over building materials. But I do enjoy living in a place where people are free to have creative yards.

My immediate neighbor, for instance, has a huge flock of flamingos charging across his front lawn. At Christmas they pull Santa’s sleigh. Since I know that the pink flamingo lawn ornament is an endangered species, I consider myself lucky to live beside so many fine specimens.

Thanks to another house in the neighborhood, I will not have to take a trip to Disneyland. A life size Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is just a short drive away.

A former bowling alley owner lives down the road. So it’s perfectly obvious why he has a towering pyramid of bowling balls in his yard.

One of my favorite yards has been totally landscaped with large and small stuffed toys. Dozens of bears, bunnies and Elmos are strategically placed almost everywhere. The weather takes its toll and soggy plush abounds, but so does a wacky charm.

When vernacular artists are driven to transform their entire personal environments, it is called art. Our nearby John Michael Kohler Art Center has made it their mission to preserve the best of these unique properties. Their recent book, Sublime Spaces and Visionary Worlds, documents the life work of over twenty of these incredible artists.

I recently had the pleasure of watching a movie about another amazing outsider artist, Pearl Fryar. He salvaged  bushes from the trash pile at his local nursery and transformed his three acres into a topiary wonderland. After watching this delightful film, A Man Named Pearl, you will never view a hedge clipper the same way again. Click here to watch a trailer for the film.

2 Comments for this entry

  • Susan B

    Mary and Russ
    I continue to love your blog. Thanks for the art heads up. Out-of-museum art always exciting.
    Take care, Sue

  • PS(anafter-thought)

    I’ve seen that bowling ball pile, just a bit south of my mom’s place. I was fortunate to get to the Kohler art center and see the sequin guy’s display, or was it glitter? That book is interesting. I’ve stopped at the concrete park in Phelps a few times. There’s another such place in SE Minnesota that I’ve stopped at too.