Thursday, July 26, 2018

Finding Shangri-La

When I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to write about the most was outsider artists, sometimes called environment-builders. I've seen most of the examples in my usual neck of the woods, so when I visit other parts of the country I always check Roadside America to see what bit of oddness is on view. That reliable site came through once again when it told me about Shangri-La in Prospect Hill, North Carolina (though its rating was only three smiley-faced water towers out of five, which makes me wonder what gets five water towers).

Henry Warren was a tobacco farmer who retired in 1968 and began building miniature buildings out of concrete, bricks, decorative cinder blocks, and marble blasted from his own land. From the looks of it, he raided a couple of gravestones as well.

He called his village Shangri-La and worked on it for just about every waking moment until 1977, when he died at age 84 as he was finishing the village's hospital.

Shangri-La is a little hard to find, as it should be, but if you follow the directions on Roadside America and remember it's just down the side road from the volunteer fire department building, it's right where they say it should be.

I didn't get a very good overall shot. Most of the village is below the road and driveway level and the light was not in my favor that day.

Warren commonly used regular bricks, painted red, turning their open tops or bottoms into decorative details.

Another material he liked was diamond-centered cinder blocks, often painted as shown in this building.

The roof line on this building is excellent.

Here it is from the other side.

A church, I think.

Not sure what this is, maybe a Southern mansion?

This may be my favorite building. The stone is set tighter within the concrete than it is on the others; the steps and door frame are more finely detailed; and the inset metal railings are a bonus.

This is the front and other side of that building. It's hard to see in this shot, but the black metalwork porch on the right side is a square steel milk crate.

In general, the details on Warren's buildings are worth looking for:

I find this out-sized terra cotta pipe very amusing.

Half a wheel is better than no wheel. Not sure what the railing is made from.

Possibly a gravestone detail.

The little connecting roof between a larger building and an outbuilding.

That is definitely a gravestone piece. July? Julia? Who knows.

For scale, those door knobs are made for regular doors.

I thought I'd end with this bric-a-brac obelisk.

Other environment-builders I've written about in the past:

Randyland: Not to Be Missed in Pittsburgh

Outsider artists in Sheboygan

Outsider art, 2012

Save the Wells Street Art Park

The Sculptures of Tom Every

Herman Rusch's Prairie Moon

Wouterina de Raad, environment builder

Dick and Jane's Spot, Ellensburg, Washington

The Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Concrete Wisconsin

No comments: