This summer on my way to a meeting, I fell upon something fabulous and inspirational. I am always moved by outdoor spaces where its obvious the creator is both artist and gardener. In this case, the home and garden that entranced me was fashioned by two well known artists. The boldness, the scale, the detail made it such that there’s no way that anyone in the little town of Ellensburg, Washington is unaware of the corner I was parked in front of smiling.
Lucky to have my good camera on me, I gleefully skipped out of my parked car into the sunshine. “Dick and Jane’s Spot”, as the sign & visitor kiosk would have, was the place. I snapped photo after photo taking in the site that I would in my limited art lingo, refer to as folk art. The diversity of mediums and substrates much appearing to be salvaged and recycled, a variety of styles, themes and humor all intimated this was the work of multiple hands. To the pleasure of accidental tourists like myself, “What is this place?” is answered in the kiosk: “the spot” represents the skills of more than 40 artists.
The 10 minutes I had to enjoy Richard Elliot and Jane Orlemon’s garden was an unexpected treat. My photos and the website have allowed me pleasurable visits several times since. One of the first things that nabbed me was the use of bottle caps–10,000 says the website. For 2 years I had been collecting and asking friends to collect beer caps having been inspired by a so-adorned door front in the historic town of Bisbee, Arizona. I yearned for a similar project at home and would start shortly after witnessing the Spot.
Bottle caps are smattered across wooden fences combined with reflectors, Richard Elliot’s most famous medium. Caps, both metal and plastic cover posts and are woven into metal fences in melodic, colorful patterns. Buckles and chains, wing nuts and keys–some painted, some rusted–enliven every surface. There were groups of school and teenage kids that came by and signed the guest book, taking it all in as I did.
There are mosaic paths of pebbles, tile and reclaimed materials; a bright wall bedecked in hubcaps whose patterns resemble kaleidoscopes; neon art; sculptures, bottle trees and of course, a lovely garden backdrop. On the north wall of the house is a series of Dick Elliot’s reflector art installations and a sculpture row of stacked insulators from the Grand Coulee Dam. Jane’s painterly hand is evidenced everywhere. It’s an understatement to call this place photogenic.
Stumbling upon “the Spot” this summer was serendipitous for me; but it’s the kind of place I would go out of my way to see. I recommend enjoying it in person if you can and learning more about Richard (Dick) Elliot and Jane Orlemon’s art and their garden delight online if you can’t. http://www.reflectorart.com features their biographies, impressive artistic work and on the part of the site dedicated to the Spot, a cool 2 minute video in which Jane and Dick talk about their unique corner in Ellensburg, WA.
© Colleen Miko, 2013