When I was a young girl, the walk to church took us by a run-down house. In good weather, an elderly woman sat on the front porch, rocking in her rocker, waving at passers-by. The porch was surrounded by a good number of wicky-wonky, home-fashioned rose trellises. Hanging from the porch beams and upended on each protruding end of the trellises were empty blue glass bottles; specifically, Milk of Magnesia bottles. In the morning sun, each bottle threw a bright blue spot of light onto the porch. It was dazzling. It was magical. On these walks, I’d dash ahead to see if the woman was out, covered with blue dots. I’d wave. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was experiencing my first public art installation. I dreamed of having a house like this woman’s - a house that felt magical to those who saw it. I wanted to be THAT lady.
Sixty-five years later, the artist in me has set out to create just such a magical space in my own yard. It began slowly, with trees, plants and flowers. A struggling, ten-inch “Charlie Brown” pine tree from a nearby nursery has steadily grown, supporting ever more holiday decorations in the process.
Toys from another age, rusted and well-loved, find a resting place in the flowers. Small dolls engage with them. A miniature, home-made picnic table perches on a fence, home to a happy doll guest. Orphaned ceramic sculptures, created by the elementary children of yesteryear, find themselves elevated in importance, and seated in prominence for the show. Both simple and elaborate vases, turned upside down, make a perfect perch for ceramic birds, charged objects and other characters. Old pieces of rebar and curtain rods, pounded into the soft ground, await their adornment.
Adults and children slow as they walk by, asking questions aloud. I can hear their curiosity through my kitchen window. “Let’s see. What’s new in ‘Wonderland?’” “What is she doing?” “Why is he holding that thing in his hand?” Young ones count bowling balls, school aged-children ask more questions. Adults laugh, too; some understand it as art, others worry about property value. Teens have fun, making fun of it all.