Lucia has something to say

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Roadside North America

What is it about North Americans that make us put fiberglass deer on our lawns? Or big cows in front of grocery stores? Or gigantic Paul Bunyans by the side of the road? What would make someone paint their pickup bright orange with "01" on the door ala General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard? What drives this quirkiness?

I stopped by one of my favorite roadside spots today--Fred Smith's Concrete Park in Phillips, Wisconsin. I'm a great lover of grassroots, outsider art. Fred Smith used a lot of concrete and beer bottles from his tavern, and left more than 200 figures planted in what is now a park. In typical outsider art fashion, the only reason he gave for doing this was "It's gotta be in ya to do it."

After a choppy ferry ride back to the mainland and a drive through Wisconsin, the camping equipment is packed up, and I've repacked to head to Chicago for an overnight with a friend who's having a birthday. I've been reading Honeymoon in Purdah, thanks to Heather's June 4 post which gives a great description of the book. Good reading!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two thousand years from now, when archeologists dig up the remains of Fred Smith's park, I would love to hear what their explanation for it is! (I doubt future textbooks will say, "I guess it was just in him to do it.)

6:12 AM  
Blogger Heather Plett said...

Glad you're enjoying the book!

Do you ever stop moving? :-)

8:10 AM  
Blogger Lynnea said...

Adding this book to my list of summer reads.

Whenever we travelled when I was a kid, my Dad had to stop for every roadside weirdity like this. It was always fun wondering what we'd see.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Susan as Herself said...

I was fascinated by lawn art as a kid... my town had many of those deer, and lots of "Marys on the halfdshell," and alot of clear plastic milk jugs filled with colored water hanfging from tree branches. (I never understood this last one...)

Have fun in the big city! :)

12:22 PM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

Lawn art seems totally bizarre to me. :)

The book sounds good. (I looked at Heather's post.) It goes on the list.



1:52 PM  
Blogger meno said...

I have a beaded belt from "Trees of Mystery" along the Oregon Coast. But i never stopped at "Hitler's Car."

5:55 PM  
Blogger magickat said...

Art is subjective, it's said. Is what this man has created "art"? Hmmm...

6:19 PM  
Blogger Crayons said...

Hi Lucia,
Yes, I've often asked myself the same question. I read Umberto Eco's book called "Travels in Hyper-Reality." It talks about strange American tastes, but never gets onto lawn items. They actually make me happy in some way, even though they are usually quite ugly. I am enjoying the photo.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Girlplustwo said...

there is a terrific article on plastic circling around that made me want to vomit..and all this unnecessary use of it is mindboggling.

11:29 PM  
Blogger gary rith said...

He is an artist AND philosopher.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Gordo said...

A couple of years ago, my brother, a hunter, planted an arrow in his neighbour's front-lawn deer. :-D

8:24 AM  

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