Yesterday was *wonderful* – spent the day with Wade Wharton in Huntsville and got to see all his new art. Look at this fantastic croc:
His head is an antique iron, forked tongue:
Serpent, flames below:
There are people that have a way with plants…
Mr. Wharton with one of his (probably hundreds of) bonsai:
He wants to have the largest, and the largest forest, of bottle trees anywhere. Those tin stars hanging from some of the branches are the stars that fell on Alabama:
Some other pics of his art environment are here. In late November, one of the television stations did a feature on him, and he called me today to say that the library had just called asking if he would put on another exhibit for them!
From the television feature:
The 72-year-old former engineer has spent the last 40 years transforming an ordinary home into something you might see in a Dr. Seuss book – colorful, imaginative and just plain different.
Wharton makes his “art” out of junk. He finds most of his material along side the road.
Wharton’s creativity did not kick in until 1974 when a stroke made him see the world in a different light.
“I’ve always been right-brained,” Wharton said. “Then I had my stroke on the left side, made me all right side. I was a free thinker, boy.”
Two years ago, the City of Huntsville told Wharton that he was violating the city code with junk in his yard. He was ordered to throw away anything that he did not consider “art”.
Wharton opens his home, off Nassau Drive, for tours.
Mr. Wharton loves visitors. If you’d like his # or directions to his home, just email me (ginger ***at*** deepfriedkudzu …dot… com).
Other things this week:
The NYT has an article about the Watts Towers entitled A Hidden Treasure Struggles in Los Angeles
…and this is so smart.
Earlier in the week I posted another piece about 20k houses; these are tiny (500 sq ft) but lovely rental homes in Ozark, AL featured in a tiny house blog
Our proposal attempts to question the form remembrance should take in contemporary urban contexts, suggesting a non-monumental way of making the absent present, and linking commemoration with leisure urban activity.
The rust-like light stalks -“Shibbolim” (“Rye stalks” in Hebrew) refer to the biblical story of Shibboleth (Judges 12, 5-6) which has become a synonym for hatred on an ethnic or cultural base. The stalks rise to various heights, sway gently in the wind, and produce soft flute-like sounds. They serve as eternal lights- commemorating the loss of millions, yet emphasizing the absence of numerous individuals. Their collective presence, motion and sound create the effect of an absent-present crowd which has gathered to testify and tell a tragic story.
Working with a slight rise of the wooden deck, the stalks form an urban garden facing the boardwalk. They also relate to the see grass situated between the boardwalk and the ocean. The contrast between the two somehow blurs the distinction between natural and artificial, life and still-life, present and memory.
A low reflecting-pool at the center of the memorial creates a focal point for gathering, holding ceremonies and laying pebbles as an act of grief. It reflects the visitors during the day, and the stalks during the night.
Rather than facing the ocean, the memorial turns its focus to the city and its people. Situating the seating and gathering areas to face the boardwalk, further accentuates the message that memory and grief are inseparable from life, and that the best way to commemorate loss is binding it with the present.