April 23, 2010
Antler Pileclick photo to enlarge
Antler pile, from the National Bison Range Wildlife Refuge.
Previous antler pile post: Curse of the Antler Arch
December 19, 2006
Towers to Nowhere
I'm entranced by this wooden tower in Archanglesk, Russia. It seems to so directly express so much about its builder, Nikolai Sutyagin... a man obsessed with the vision to create.
Dead Programmer's Cafe posted Nikolai's incredible story. Here's an excerpt:
"When Perestroyka came about Nikolai Sutyagin used his money to start a lumber and construction business which brought him a substantial fortune. Now he needed a suitable residence. At first he planned on building a huge two story wooden house. Wooden structures are limited by law to two stories for fire safety reasons. At first he built a refrigerator sized wooden mock up. He liked the scale, but didn't like the proportion of the roof. He decided to elongate it to achieve a more pleasing proportion. Then he started building working with his team like in the old times, but using the timber from his own company. When he was about done with the roof, he decided to build it up a little higher so that he could see the White Sea from the very top. Even though his building has two stories, the roof spans 11 more (some articles estimate the structure to have 12 stories, others - 13 and even 15).
The government and his neighbors hated Sutyagin's masterpiece. Fire hazard or not, it stands in the middle of a rather poor village, yet it's higher than the tallest cement building in the city of Archangelsk itself. The city government ordered the structure to be torn down, but the order was never realized as far as I know. But Sutyagin was accused by one of his employees (who stole $30,000 from Sutyagin) of beating him up and imprisoning him in a shed. True or not, Sutyagin got 4 years of prison. He was let out in 2 years. While he was away his company was looted like Baghdad after the war. Now he and his wife and daughter live in the unfinished skyscraper that he built."
(via: street use)
December 08, 2006
Carefully Arranged Clutter
Stephen's Victorian era home has finally become a perfect reflection of his taste. Or maybe it reflects something deeper than that? He's carefully decorated every square inch with sculptures, paintings, trinkets and ghoulish art. The effect is both warm and museum-like. But also unsettling.
If you can't get to Seattle soon, you can at least tour every room in this complete virtual tour, by Bradford Bohonus.
(via: geisha asobi)
March 21, 2006
Love and Paint
Rising up out of the desert near Niland California is Leonard Knight's whimsical vision of paradise: waterfalls, flowers, streets of gold, fields of rich green grass and towering pines. It virtually blankets a small hill and still, he continues to build.
This world of his has an unquestionably surreal quality, not just because it's made out of adobe and paint, but also because almost everything is constructed out of bible verses and Christian catch-phrases. "God is love" is painted everywhere. And though this sugary coating is interesting, I personally find the darker bits more intriguing. For example, his sculpted "love" looks like it might hurt if we were to touch it. And one tunnel seems to be filled with tremendous neurons (does Knight unknowingly feel trapped inside his own brain?).
Of course, there is no correct interpretation for his world. One thing's for certain... almost everyone who meets him utterly enjoys him (and his free postcards). So if you're ever in Niland, stop by and say hi. At the very least, take a look at some of the photos below (you owe it to Knight).
(click photos to enlarge)
Reader comment (from boingboing): Bart says,
We've gone out to Salvation Mountain several times, each time showing more friends and family what Leonard has done. That entire southeast region of the Salton Sea has many interesting stops including Slab City (snowbirds and squatters community on a deserted military base), Bombay Beach (half underwater) and the numerous bird preserves (one dedicated by Sonny Bono). Quite an interesting place. I recently snapped a bunch of photos while out there.
a. Download marker for Google Earth.
b. Knight has so far used 100,000 gallons of paint.
February 22, 2006
How to Survive an Apocalypse
If art expresses a person's innermost soul, then this man must have felt tangled up inside himself.
Frank Van Zant's vision was sparked when he heard the prophecy of a medicine woman: "In the final days there shall rise up a place called Thunder Mountain." She also told him that only those who lived at Thunder Mountain would survive the coming apocalypse. Van Zant wasted no time; he changed his name to Chief Rolling Thunder Mountain, moved his family to the desert in Imlay, Nevada, and began to build his monument.
Curiously, it does not look much like a mountain. Nor thunder. It looks more like a web of veins (or maybe nerves) that almost seem to be strangling the little house within.
At age 69 Van Zant committed suicide because he had finally completed his masterpiece.
Note: The monument has been in disrepair for a long time now. In recent photographs, most of Van Zant's original paint has worn away.
Reader Comment: Karradine says,
I knew Thunder in 1970, and stayed with him for several weeks. He was a friend to Baha'is, and an intelligent - if eccentric! - man.
Sleeping in his house was a real experience, utterly normal until the wind began to blow, for he had made his house from bottles collected from the roadside, and made the mistake of building part of one wall B0TTLE-MOUTH OUT!
The first time I awoke at 0230, with banshees wailing so loudly sleep was near impossible, I was loath to disturb him, and only mentioned it the next day, whereupon he explained it and told me it keeps evil spirits away (with a sly look on his face).
Quite a guy, Rolling Mountain Thunder!
Update: Welcome visitors from the boingboing link!
(click photos to enlarge)
February 13, 2006
Curse of the Antler Arch
The extraordinary antler arch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. See it in person and it may be enough to give you some very strange dreams (take it from me).
February 07, 2006
43 Years of Cement and Stone
Behold Facteur Ferdinand Cheval – that rarest breed of artistic genius. A man wholly devoted to his work. Passionately, almost shockingly, creative. Visionary in his artistic scope, his artistic ambition. And maybe just a little crazy.
At age 43, Cheval picked up a rock on the side of the road. He stared at it and and a great and magical idea occurred to him. He suddenly realized it was time to make his dream come true: Palais Ideal. No more waiting. No more excuses.
And so he began collecting more rocks. And more rocks. Of course he had plenty of time to do this on his (32 kilometer) daily route as a postman. And then, night would fall and his real work would begin. The palais. It took him 34 years, working alone, this insane-wonderful genius. His giant cement-sculpture-castle-thing was the great gift he left to us.
In case you can't tell, this is my personal favorite of all the so called "outsider art" environments.
September 12, 2005
About a hundred years ago, Karl Junker died, leaving us Das Junkerhaus: an architectural wonder to which Junker devoted 23 years of his life. Inside and out, every inch of house is blanketed with carved wooden figures and ornamental reliefs, all strangely interwoven. Even chairs, beds and other furniture are constructed out of short, bone-like pieces of carved wood. Even a century later, the impact of the home is still awe-inspiring.
Discover more on Das Junkerhaus at:
• Junkerhaus Lemgo – Home of the Junkerhaus Museum
September 09, 2005
See Dick and Jane Build a House...
Nick says, "My parents always took us here on frequent cross-state road trips. Dick and Jane's Spot always brings a smile to my face when I think about it, and the 1000 or so weekly visitors probably enjoy it just as much."
August 31, 2005
The Wonderful World of Color
There are those who have a desire, or rather an overwhelming obsession, to see a thing... fulfilled. So it is with Danielle Jacqui and color. For her, painting on canvas is not enough – so instead she covers everything in sight in an overwhelming spectacle of color: walls, shutters, chairs, sinks, counter-tops, even her own clothes. You can get a glimpse into her exotically fashioned universe at documentdartistes.org.