Sunday, March 18, 2007

Found Art

Robb and I were driving to a letterboxing event, when I shouted out something along the lines of, "What the heck is that!?!?!" and pulled off the road. Right in the middle of Centralia, Washington is what has to be the most amazing folk art installation I've ever seen.

Robb wasn't feeling especially well, and said that he was going to lay down in the car. I nervously introduced myself to the artist, and asked if I might look around. I thought that if I were lucky, he might allow me to take a few pictures, and then send me on my way.

Actually, he grabbed me by the elbow, and took me on a whirl-wind tour of his sculpture garden, all the while talking a mile a minute. The place is huge, and the artist, Richard Tracy, had a lot to say. And unfortunately, Robb had not taken the car keys from me, so was stranded in the front yard, while I was being hauled around the back. Not good.

The artist uses found material -- primarily styrofoam -- which he paints black and white, and then allows nature to erode.

Although the bulk of the work was quite monumental, the individual parts were quite delightful.

The artist hands visitors long fabric tassels, on hooks, and asks the visitors to hide them among his work. I believe that the act of searching his own art work allows him the opportunity to see everything with fresh eyes.

Let's hear it for the act of hunting for hidden art works!


SpringChick said...

How cool is this! What a stroke of serendipity to run across this place. We once accidentally stumbled upon an old man who did wood sculptures and had them tucked away in the woods on his property, including hanging from the trees. Very fun to find these kinds of things!

Anonymous said...

Wow- nice to know there is a place where crazy old artists can go. Hm, where do I sign up?

We have many places in Detroit that are a bunch of old abandoned, burned-out houses. We also have an area like that, it has been generally restored and covered completely outside with big painted Polka dots, and or dolls or shoes or plastic flowers or furniture. Considering the houses were previously burned out shells with no roofs on them, the dots are the least of the visual concerns.

The artist is named Tyree Guyton and he singlehandedly bought up several blocks worth of houses for no money practically and fixed and painted them. They are very artistic and political in nature. I like them, and him. Tyree used to come by and give me plants when I worked in the city fixing up trash-filled schoolyards into community gardens. Tyree is sort of a militant artist and lets poor and very lower income families live in these houses. The city of Detroit declared his "dot-houses" a local eyesore, even though Detroit never did anything to fix up the area themselves, dots or otherwise.

I hope your local artist guy gets to keep his area and his artwork, and not get run out of town like the no-vision city of Detroit has been trying to do to Tyree Guyton for 15 years. I salute his efforts, and I'm sorry Robb missed out on the tour.


dorks anonymous said...

OMG--We've driven through Centralia numerous times and it was only a thing to be edured before we reached our Destination. Thanks for the heads up.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

not far off the highway! featured in roadside america.... just your sorta thing!

Paul in SF said...

I knew about Centralia from a huge book I have on such art installations. I also know a woman who lives there and she was surprised that I had heard of it.
Must have been great fun to see.

(Am I shunned by the Lb community?... no one responds to me now...)



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