The Famous and the Obscure Art of My Neighborhood

There’s a lot of art in my neighborhood. Some is easy to find, but some of my favorites are in surprising locations. Take the giant dragonfly on Washington Avenue, for instance.

What? You’ve never seen it? Me either until I started talking to a couple who were harvesting produce in Patchwork’s garden. They told me they live in the house with the giant dragonfly on the tree out front. I didn’t remember ever seeing it, but the next day I looked and there it was–a giant dragonfly on a tree!

How could I have missed it? Pretty cool!

There’s also the sculpture garden next to Billy and Tom’s house that I’ve written about before and all of the great art around Patchwork including a new “Driftwood Orb” created by kids this summer during our sculpture weeks. It’s in Patchwork’s little side park and looks great in the natural setting.

Then there’s my friend Jane’s back yard. It’s a fabulous piece of art.

For many years now, Jane and I have inspired each other. We like similar things–cool trash, found objects, yoghurt containers full of old twist ties–but use them in completely different ways. My art is more restrained and hers is more over the top. We balance each other out.

Both of us admire the work of outsider artists. Jane’s yard comes closer to achieving the look than I will ever accomplish.

Jane started with a whole collection of liquor bottles and frustration that her neighbors were drinking the contents and tossing the trash into the empty lot next to her. She filled some up with colored liquid, hung some from her tree, and had the start of an art yard. It’s difficult to fully capture the environment in photos.

Some gardens have Chihuly. Jane’s has something more original.

There was a great little ceramic skeleton sitting on the pink watering can, but he’d fallen off the day I came with my camera. I’ll have to catch him next time.

Of course, there’s also the official art of the neighborhood–the stuff that other people in Evansville (and beyond) have actually heard of–the Sculpt EVV sculptures. Sculpt EVV is an outdoor art exhibit on display in Haynie’s Corner. The sculptures are arranged on a bunch of lots left empty after all the recent demolitions of houses in our neighborhood.

It’s fun to have all the art in the neighborhood and there’s even a second year planned. It was a good resource for the kids at Patchwork during sculpture weeks. They were impressed enough with the art that several of them pulled out their camera phones to document it. My favorite is called Best of All Possible Worlds and was created by Saul Melman.

It was the piece in the show that seemed to respond to the actual setting the best. It seems to acknowledge that it is installed in an older neighborhood among Victorian houses and on a large, empty lot where several houses once stood and it speaks to the strange voids that these empty lots are (like the giant one behind my house), the history of what was there, and the hope for the future. It also seemed to fit the size of the lot it was on by making the negative space around it part of the piece, not just a lot of empty space in which the art got lost. And, it sounds like its neighbors were having fun interacting with it. One day Jane saw a rolled newspaper left on its stoop. In newspaper coverage of it, someone said that they’d found a sticky note attached to the door that was addressed to a fictitious homeowner and asked her why she was never home.

I would love to see a whole show in which the art was site-specific like this. I would love to see artists’ reflections on this particular place–not just shapes and forms plopped onto a  concrete pad at the edge of some random green space.

Unfortunately Best of All Possible Worlds was vandalized a couple weeks ago and is out for repairs.

Other Sculpt EVV art will be on display until next spring and it’s a fun little tour to take by bike or on foot to see them all.

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9 thoughts on “The Famous and the Obscure Art of My Neighborhood

  1. wow, amy! I have been blogged and didn’t even know it. Thanks for the kind words and good pictures. they look better than the one I have taken. I need to nail the pink bucket to thew tree stump so mu skeletons quit falling down.

  2. Your first pictures of Vickers’ yard art with the bottles reminded me of stain glass wiindows. Then as the pictures went on they gave me pleasant chuckles! I like your comments on the Best o f all Possible worlds. I would enjoy interacting with it. On vacations I like to get photos of myself interacting with the sculptures I find. I also can’t restrain myself from rearranging the pose of the 2 foot skeleton in one of my doctor’s exam rooms.

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