Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lawn Art

Last year in my other blog, I suggested that certain houses in Memorial that had huge front yards would benefit from some lawn sculpture. This weekend, I happened upon some lawn sculptures and had an inspiration--I would create a Google map of Houston lawn sculptures.

View Lawn Art in a larger map

As I discover new, interesting lawn art, I will add it to the map. Readers are free to make suggestions. I won't try to be exhaustive--only sculptures or objects that interest me will go on the map. And I will limit it to private residences. Art on public property or commercial property--however interesting--belongs on some other map.

So the first lawn art I saw Saturday was at the corner of Eberhard and West Pierce.

Pierce and Eberhard

The sculpture is pretty unassuming. It's only about two feet high. And there is another one on the other side of the front walkway that I didn't photograph. Still, it's interesting to stumble onto a pair of Anthony Caro-like welded metal sculptures in someone's front yard. Anyone hove any idea who the sculptor is?

The second are two sculptures in someone's "back yard" (I use quotes because the house has a really weird orientation on the lot, and the back yard is off to its side). This is at 4618 Blossom, in the weird shaded enclave that seems so different from the rest of the neighborhood. This property is one of the reasons it seems so different.

4618 Dodecahedron

That's one of the sculptures.

4618 Octohedron

And here is the other sculpture. They are respectively a dodecahedron and an octohedron. They are two of the five platonic solids. (Here's an animated gif of a dodecahedron, included solely because I think it's cool.)
 Now it's actually quite hard to see these sculptures. The owner of this proiperty has planted a rather dense privacy screen of shrubs and trees. The property seems rather spooky--it has a swampy, jungle-y vibe. Here's the main house.

4618 west house

You see that stuff hanging between the columns? It looks like the camouflage netting you see in Vietnam movies!

Intrigued, I looked the property up on HCAD. HCAD lists it as having one small house on the property.

Marked up

But in fact, there are two houses here. One seems like it may have been moved to the property. Here is a photo of the north side of the second house.

4618 east house

Behind that enormous window is the bathroom. The window is obviously a modern addition, but the bathroom has old-style fixtures, including a freestanding tub. It suggests erotic fantasies of walking by on Fowler and noticing a beautiful woman reclining in her bubble bath before this huge window... Ahem.

Anyway, the reason I mention these two strange houses in addition to the sculptures is just to point out how decidedly odd the property is. The owner, Salle Werner Vaughn, lists his residence as being in River Oaks (according to HCAD). Salle Werner Vaughn, as far as I can tell, was (is?) some kind of art educator, as well as an author of at least one out-of-print book.

But enough about his houses and sculptures. Since this is the inaugural Lawn Art blog post, I want to state some principles.

1) Lawn art is a good thing
2) People should put sculptures or other artistic objects in their front yards
3) Other people should respect people's lawn art

Here are some pros and cons of lawn art.

1) It makes your house more interesting.
2) It distinguishes you from the neighbors.
3) It demonstrates that you have taste (obviously this depends on the art).
4) It gives your front yard a reason for existing (front yards are generally pretty useless in Houston--people do their recreating in the back yard).
5) It shows that you have money (again, this depends on the art itself).
6) It gives people a reason to notice your house and look at your house, which may make it less likely that you will be robbed.

1) It can be expensive to buy a sculpture.
2) Your art could be stolen.
3) Your art could be vandalized (especially by teenagers with spraycans).
4) Your neighbors/homeowners busybody group/zoning board (in some non-Houston neighborhoods) might disapprove.
5) Lawn art usually requires some maintenance (periodic repainting, rust removal, weeding around the bottom, etc.).
6) It may also require insurance.

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