Pigs with wings, pelicans with fish & Route 66 gas pumps
Whoever made the metal sculptures put wings on the pigs and fish in the mouths of pelicans. They were going for both the whimsical and the realistic when they melded metal to metal to create a carnival of animals.
I’d seen the pieces of yard art on the auction house website, and because of their color and appeal, I knew that they would be an easy sell. They were crudely constructed, as if the maker wanted them to appear rustic but artistic, lovely to see but still retaining their animal characteristics.
Most of the painted metal creatures had been grouped together in the middle of one row, but others had been dropped here and there in other places in the backyard. That’s where the auction house sells low-end furniture, gardening equipment, box lots and a little bit of everything else, plopping them down in the dirt or on weather-beaten tables. If it rains and the stuff gets soaked, no sweat to them.
When I arrived at the auction house, I went straight to the backyard – in fact, that’s where I always start my walk-through before venturing inside – because I can sometimes find some interesting items on the tables. The metal animals were hard to miss, because they were the most colorful items standing.
The pink flamingos were the first ones I spotted, their color and tall stature giving them up rather quickly. The roosters were larger than life in bright and dark colors, depending on your pleasure. The display was not just of animals, though.
One sculpture was a re-constructed gas pump with a Route 66 emblem at the top. An identical pump stood a short distance away. A small metal lizard lay lazily in a white wire plant stand. There were small fire trucks with ladders, rigs with smokestacks on either side, wire-basket chickens and fire-red chickens, and a pair of over-sized boots. Looking around, I noticed that most if not all of the metal sculptures were in pairs; they all had mates.
Farther down the row, I came across two more flamingos, which had to be at least 5 feet tall, standing in front of a glass table, looking down at it. They seemed to be looking at their reflection.
I suppose that yard art can take forms different from the animals at auction. I can think of a few pieces of metal I plunge into the ground or hang on the fence each summer to dress up my backyard. There’s the black-eyed Susan, the reflecting ball, the terracotta sun I hang on the fence, the metal rod with a garlic shape at the top, the small chair planter and the two painted birds on a rod that I have in my garage but haven’t used.
I haven’t gotten into barnyard chickens or Florida flamingos or flying fish or Route 66 signs yet.
On the web, I found several communities that offer Yard Art Day, which seems to be similar to open houses in a neighborhood of lavish old homes. Instead of trekking through someone’s lovely Victorian home, you scope out the yard art in other people’s gardens. The Fringe Festival in New Orleans has added yard art as a visual part of its event.
Here are some of the items from the auction: