Lawn Ornamentation: Visionary art or backyard junk?
In this latest installment of urban archaeology, I will document objects of intrigue found in Somerville yards. Some of these items seem to be placed with great intention, others, not so much. I will leave it to you to determine their artistic value, anthropological merit, and overall effectiveness. You may find yourself wondering, “Where are all those terribly classy stone lions I see in Somerville yards?” Have no fear, I am currently on a mission to document as many of the stone/ceramic/ gold/ lions proudly displayed in front of Somerville homes. Much has been written about the Blessed Virgin Mary statues with accompanying bathtub shelters. Now it’s time for the Somerville Lion to take his rightful place as the king of lawn ornaments, before he is extinct. Cataloguing the lions will be an ongoing and highly edifying endeavor.
In the mean time, if you know of any particularly striking lawn ornamentation, urban artifacts, or interesting backyard junk in the ville, shoot me email with its location and I will try my Somerville best to feature it in a subsequent Ode to Urban Artifacts post.
We begin with Hobo, The Stripper-Clown, friend to the Wesley Park Robot. Times are clearly tough and he has taken to the bottle. No one understands him, but his frog, Afterthought.
Also in the same yard, Not-Optimus Prime, enemy to Wesley Park Robot. If you thought Not-Optimus Prime was in fact, Optimus Prime, chances are we don’t travel in the same circles. His markings are distinctly Power Ranger-esque, so I’d have to say he’s The Power Rangers Ninja Storm dX Power Megazord Transformer. Let’s call it an educated guess. Not-Optimus is relatively new, though his compatriots have been in this yard since before 2007. Very interesting choice for a lawn ornament, especially given his proximity to The Wesley Park Robot and Hobo, The Stripper-Clown. What does it all mean?
As we move uphill, just off Walnut Street, we find a Time Machine. I am pretty sure this is a time machine and not art. It may also be a torture chamber, given that it seems to have an oven door. Whatever it is, we can all agree that it’s awesome.
Next up, is a yard that appears to be full of crap. And yet.. there is something beautiful about the disarray of objects. It could be townie. It could be yuppie. It’s definitely part of The Middle Ground.
No Urban Artifacts post would be complete without a pile of tires (See: Ode to Urban Artifacts: The Quintessential Somerville Tire). Here we have a collection of tires of various sizes and models. I walk by this house on a weekly basis and happened to know these tires don’t see much action. There are seven tires; no more, no less. Always the seven tires, but I will let you know if anything changes…
In the same yard, we find Pipe Man. It may very well be that Pipe Man collects tires. Though comprised of a few old pipes, I’d venture that Pipe Man is a sculpture. Pipe Man and I share certain physical characteristics. I’d like to think we have chemistry and that our children would be athletes.
You can find these next little creepers on Hall Street, off of Cherry. Despite some moderate shelter, they appear fairly weathered so I was curious as to how long they may have been living in the streets. According to an image from Google Earth, timestamped August 2007, the twins have lived outside for at least 4.5 years, although I would venture longer. Sheltered by the house’s gas meter, they resemble Hummel figurines, but with the glazed-over eyes evocative of a post-apocalyptic pastoral society. The boy holds a white dog; the girl a white cat. There is some type of deep symbolism going on here and it reminds me of the wolf cub in I, Claudius, who falls from the talons of an eagle into the hands of a young Claudius foretelling of his future reign as protector of Rome. Yup, that’s what comes to mind.
Now to birds. One of my favorite lawn ornaments is this fake rooster in a birdcage with accompanying twinkle lights. The cage has been here for at least three years. A few houses down, there’s a house with numerous bird cages on the porch with actual live birds. This one is clearly a booby trap for yuppies seeking farm fresh eggs. Trouble is they’re not cage-free and they come from a rooster.
Last but not least, we have some birds of prey. Are they eagles? Hawks? A combination of two species? Impossible to be certain. In a city with an abundance of stone lions, the owners of this house made a bold choice to veer from the Somerville standard. They even had their beaks expertly painted red. Or maybe that’s just blood from a recent kill? I think I will investigate any particular significance these birds may have in Portuguese culture (I say Portuguese because the owners also have a statue of Our Lady of Fátima and a Portuguese flag displayed to the right of the birds).
This edition of Ode to Urban Artifacts has come to an end. Stay tuned for future posts involving Somerville bricks, random glass bottles, gang symbols, derelict basketball hoops, and more curious sculptures. Thanks for reading!
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