Saturday, October 21, 2006

More rockin’ in the ol’ dry heat

The Phoenix sun bakes you pretty good, even in late October.  We found that out visiting two notable art sites today in the north part of town. Stop #1 was the Sunnyslope Rock Garden, built over a 22 year period by Grover Cleveland Thompson in the yard where he’d retired.  Apparently his wife wasn’t near as keen on his dishware flecked fenceposts and historical heads (we think that’s Red Skelton above) that make the place such an outsider art eyecatcher.

So much so that after his death in the 70s, Sunnyslope caught the eye of a New Yorker named Marion Blake, who couldn’t resist buying it and relocating.  Even though she admits, she really likes cooler weather!

Marion has been a stupendous steward for this whimsical, upbeat assortment of concrete, Fiestaware and whatever else Mr. T had on hand when he was sculpting.  The fact that it all began when he was 65 gives us good reason to believe the best is yet to come. However, it is also worth noting that this TV Weasel strained his back a bit lifting a concrete something or another while trying to help!

Speaking of seniors, Gus Brethauer, the man who calls his yard “Over the Rainbow,” is a spry 82.  And by his estimation he’s spent something like a million dollars collecting pieces of Phoenix area history, petrified wood and cacti that he’s spread in mazes and relic-filled trails around several acres. (Don says several miles.)  Wanna see some of the city’s old underground sidewalks?  He’s got ‘em?  Amusement park rides that Barry Goldwater rode on?  A solar system in rock? A temple of doom, fossils, meteor pieces... Did I mention petrified wood?

And inside, a huge movie collection and 30,000 LP’s! In the category of obsessive collectors, we now have someone who runs neck and neck with the late Max Nordeen.  Gus, take a bow...

Music in the Van-Loudon Wainwright III “Little Ships”

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