I had a great trip to Austin for a beautiful wedding, and while there, got to spend time with two friends I don’t see often enough. One of them, Scott Stevens, has — in true Austin form — an art environment at his home, and many people visit it and make arrangements to also see his friend Vince’s Cathedral of Junk (that in an upcoming post).
To visit, contact Scott directly.
You’re at the right place when you see Scott’s front yard, with the literally ornamental cactus garden, as the tips are embellished with metallic orbs — they look like crowns in person
Scott says he’s always been interested in cactus, and began the garden on May 28, 1995, which happened to be the 20th anniversary of his first Alice Cooper concert — he’s a huge Alice Cooper fan. He says, “though the yard is not a tribute to him it does incorporate a number of Alice related totems.” From an interview we did in 2009, Scott explained, “Revival time was a very, very important part of my upbringing. Church in general was very important. I went to a very small congregation Methodist church in Somerville. But I loved rock music, especially Alice Cooper. He was the first rock concert I ever attended. For me attending an Alice Cooper concert is like going to a very, very good revival meeting.”
The front yard also includes this snake sculpture made from mostly-buried bottles
…to the back yard, with its own entrance. Scott’s quotes below are from this visit and from my interview with him in 2009.
from our talk in 2009: “…the bottle cap snakes are definitely the reason for the “Holiness Church Of Wonders and Signs Following.” I had the name before I read the book “Salvation on Sand Mountain”. Big Chief recommended the book to me after hearing the name of the yard. One of my friend’s moms (in Somerville, Alabama) grew up in the Holiness tradition. There is a Holiness Church in Valhermosa Springs between Cotaco and Lacey’s Springs. I saw the sign out on the highway last December.”
Scott says that vast majority of the materials in the yard he’s scrounged or has been given as donation. Money donations for the environment go to purchase materials such as wire, lathing, concrete, and paint.
So it grows… I had maybe 10-16 baby doll heads on sticks in the yard when i had a friend over to hang out one night. Veronika was from Munich Germany and did the wildest expressionistic art I’d seen. She was really freaked by the dolls and said so. I thought “if 10 or 15 heads get such a reaction..what about 50 or 100?”
Smut Putt Heaven is my personal sanctuary. I feel most at peace when I’m working on either building something new. It is a very meditative place. It gives me a sense of creative fulfillment that my job never has.
The yard is reflected in my paintings and my cartoon character Mr. Fix is present in the yard, painted on a garbage can lid. Mr. Fix played miniature golf at Smut Putt in my comix in the 1980s. That is where the Smut Putt in Smut Putt Heaven came from.
The first two mannequin heads came from the Cathedral of Junk when Vince was disassembling it in early 2000. I came home to find them on my front porch. The next day when I went to work there was a cardboard box on my desk with a mannequin head in it! A coworker had seen it on the side of the road and picked it up for me. Most of the heads come from a local beauty college.
I’ve been working on the yard since May 1995. Its been almost 22 years now and my has it grown and changed. One thing to remember…there was never a master plan as to what I was going to do in my backyard. It is all one ongoing jam!