Saturday, November 6, 2010

Concrete Wisconsin

National Register of Historic Places plaqueI'm slowly working my way through Wisconsin's list of outsider artists/environment builders. On a chilly November day, I finally found my way to Fred Smith's Wisconsin Concrete Park, which is located in Phillips (pretty far north in central Wisconsin).

Close up of one male statue's face, stark white and staring
Smith was an illiterate lumberjack. When he retired in 1948, he learned how to cast concrete and spent the next 15 years creating over 200 statues around his home.

Male statue covered with multi-colored glass
His people are generally male, with a few notable exceptions, such as Mary Todd Lincoln, Sacagewa, and the Statue of Liberty.

Male statue covered mostly with red glass
The majority of the statues are clustered in one field. There are so many to look at, and it was so cold, I'm afraid I didn't do them justice.

Looming statue covered with brown glass
I especially liked this extra-tall, austere man who was in a more wooded area behind the front field. Checking the self-guided tour sheet, I just realized it's Sun Yat-sen.

Male figure with large mustache leading two oxen with huge horns
Aside from concrete, Smith mostly limited himself to glass bottles. There are some pieces with shells, too.

Two horses with brown beer bottles used to make their manes
Animals were probably his favorite subjects. There are many horses and deer, as well as some cows.

Lion-like animal with human face, including human nose and mustache
This is probably my favorite piece in the park. I believe it's part of one called "Lion, Tiger, Angora Cat," although I'm not sure which of those three this creature might be. I just love its human face with its formal mustache.


Terra said...

I am from Wisconsin, and enjoy outsider art. Have you seen the artist's house outside of Sheboygan, in the country, where he created concrete art? The Kohler Sheboygan art museum had an exhibit of concrete art I saw a few years ago.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Fascinating to think about how he taught himself the skills, chose the characters, and labored to create such a huge body of work.

Linda Myers said...

Quite a commitment he had. Thanks for the photos.

Daughter Number Three said...

Terra, yes, I have visited James Tellen's Woodland Sculpture Garden and the Kohler Art Center. I missed the specific show you're talking about, though -- unfortunately. That was before I had discovered Sheboygan!

Here's an old post of mine on the Tellen visit: