Mr. Rice’s place has been featured in countless magazine articles, folk art books, etc. and I’ve wanted to see it for ages. Av and I love folk art. Religious folk art (even when it’s not our religion) is so great – I have a real respect for it.
Growing up in Cullman, I would go several times each year to Ave Maria Grotto just to marvel at Brother Zoettl’s incredible work. Av and I once went to Palestine Gardens (formerly called Palestinian Gardens) – a place in Lucedale, MS – to see the work of a Presbyterian minister who began to build representations of Israel out of concrete back in the 1950’s. Compared to the Grotto, PG is much more crudely constructed, but if you’re in that part of MS, it’s worth seeing once. BTW, we didn’t know to expect this when we visited, but our experience with the gentleman who lead us on a tour of the little park was that he did some hard-core ‘testifying’ (which to me is really okay, I am happy to hear how people got into their religion and how their life has changed).
Anyway, if you have the choice of Ave Maria Grotto or Palestine Gardens, definitely go to the Grotto as the work there – the details and such – is just amazing.
Here are pics of Mr. Rice’s cross garden. Mr. Rice died last year, but his family says they will keep things up the way they are now.