Friday, September 12, 2008

More Outsider Art in the Garden: Roadside Grottoes









Rustic, do-it-yourself garden endeavors, by untrained artists at Pluto-like distances from any traditional art milieu, seem much more common here in the United States than in Europe. I would like to draw a high-flown parallel between such constructs and the utopian ideals of the Founders as well as the recurring theme in American history of a better, self-determined life just across the new frontier, but it has been a weary week in the lab and you can likely make such connections yourselves.

At any rate, the lack of zoning regulations might have been more of a factor.

And the availability of concrete, coupled with the new phenomenon of families on short trips seeing the USA in their Chevrolet, as pointed out by the Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi.

"..farm-bred do-it-yourself confidence and readily available portland cement allowed even solitary individuals to build monumental public spaces and make a name for themselves..."

Many of them did so in the garden (better to be viewed directly from the road) or, in American terms, the 'yard', where grotto caves began to sprout strangely from the plains.

Above from top to bottom:

the Christiansen Rock garden in Albert Lea, MN, c. 1925 (still extant but private)
Father Mathias Wernerus building the Dickeyville grotto, Dickeyville, WI, where he set everything from petrified wood to decorative china and perfume bottle stoppers into a Catholic shrine from 1925-1930 (still open to visitors)
and my personal favorite, the 'Lover's Heart' still available for photo ops (feathered cap optional)at Rockome in Arcola, IL.


All photos from the Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi. See much, much more in their 'Garden Delights' section, and at detour art travels.

On a personal note, in a creek-bed near my home I've recently discovered a small column of roughly mortared rocks and shells, in the same style as these roadside constructs, dumped there along with other bits of concrete by some unsensitive soul. It will soon have pride of place in my own garden.

3 comments:

Ms. Wis. said...

Thanks for two delightful posts. The Milwaukee Art Museum has some wonderful sculptures by William Edmondson as part of a large and inspiring folk art collection. If you are ever in the area, be sure to take a look.

Wisconsin is full of such roadside grottos and other concrete sculpture gardens. If you are not familiar with it, the Kohler Art Museum in Kohler, WI is a major player in documentation and preservation of such sites. I love them and was glad to see someone writing about them.

For info here: http://www.jmkac.org/Artist-EnvironmentBuilders.

Chookie said...

There is a restaurant in this style in Sydney:
http://www.grottacapri.com.au/
Nice food, too, but rather overwhelming when you walk in!

grass said...

Hi,
Thanks for your posts.They are quite illuminating.

This concept seems to be a kind of universal thing. We have a couple of them in India. The most famous being Chandigarh- Nek Chand's Rock garden.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Garden,_Chandigarh

http://nekchand.info/

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