Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

roadside dinosaur

This is a metal dinosaur found along Route 36 in Seabright while heading home from the beach recently. Note the festivel Christmas lights that adorn it, I bet the metal reflects the lights beautifully when lit up.I strongly suspect that it may be one of Jim Gary’s pieces.

musical robots of Williamstown

the brown eyed mailbox

Yes, you lift the tail, and stick the mail where the sun don’t shine.

the ugliest bear you will ever see

The Ghost Parking Lot

Established in 1978, this art exhibit called the Ghost Parking Lot is located in the parking lot of a shopping plaza in Hamden, CT. James Wine sank 20 cars into the ground at varying depths then covered them with concrete. The concrete followed the form of the vehicles, allowing the observer to easily identify the various makes and models, through some were harder then others to ID. The convertible was quite interesting as we could easily see the steering wheel emerging from the rest of the concrete.


The space it occupies was leased from the shopping plaza, and expired in 2003. The land was considered “valuable real estate”, but it sounds like a bogus argument because the parking spaces it takes up are the farthest from the stores (and the lot was half empty too). The Ghost Parking Lot was demolished in September 2003, so I decided to contact the creator, James Wine.

Mr Wines founded Site in 1970, an organization which works combines art & architecture. According to their website, they offer a “wide variety of design services – including buildings, public spaces, landscapes, interiors, graphics, and industrial products. SITE’s capacity to work in so many fields is based on a philosophy that sees all of the arts as a fusion of related ideas.” The owner of the Hamden Shopping Plaza was an art lover and so in 1978 he commissioned Site to build some sort of public art. All decisions as to design and subject matter were left up to Mr Wines and his staff.

Said Mr Wines, “Public art often derives it’s meaning from its location. You go to a parking lot and expect to see cars in the lot, not under it. It’s inverting expectations. You’re seeing something in a place which makes sense but whose presentation does not. Now remove this from the parking lot and place it in a museum and it loses all meaning, all relevance.” The owner leased the last few parking spaces nearest the street to Site for 20 years, and soon construction began. Wines and his crew began collected typical cars of the day for burial under a thin layer of cement. (note I said thin and cement…) As the project began construction, many locals did not “get it” and some even objected. Local high school students began threatening to damage the project, and generally were a nuisance to the point that a security guard had to be hired.

Once the concrete was poured over the cars, the local kids did a 180. It went from something to be vandalized to something cool. “They even volunteered to help is the construction but we politely declined.” The cars chosen included Cadillac’s and VW bugs, even a convertible. He chose these cars to represent what the average person drove, as well as to be instantly recognizable. The cars were often donated, and often were left with personal items inside, which later would become entombed. One car which troubled him belonged to a young man who died in Vietnam. His mother donated the car and even left his dog tags inside. Mr Wines always felt conflicted about this vehicle, leaving something so personal inside. Ultimately it was the mothers decision and he accepted the donation.

The interiors were filled with concrete, poured thru a hole in the roof. Some were filled completely, while others were filled only to the bottom edge of the window. In many cases you could still see steering wheels, dials and gauges, even radio knobs, which was possible because the concrete was a thin layer. Once completed, Wines realized that this would eventually deteriorate. People passing by would chip off chunks of concrete, and he said some even brought those pieces to his office to be autographed (which he did sign)

After 5-6 years though the cars clearly needed touching up, as pieces of metal were exposed. No one contracted him about what to happen next, and he is not sure who was responsible but someone decided to do some “touch up” and simply poured asphalt all over the cars completely covering many of the details. In his eyes the art was now ruined, the details completely lost. “It’s like taking a Rembrandt and removing some of the paint and just anybody repairing it. It’s not the same painting any more.”

Always controversial, it may have been cool to some when constructed, but the ravages of time and “touch ups” led most locals to consider it an eye sore. In the late 90’s the shopping mall was sold, but since the parking spaces were leased by Site they could do nothing about it. Once the lease was up there were really on two options, do a decent restoration or demolish it. Mr Wines said he had no problem with demolishing it because it was never meant to last forever and he felt it was no longer even his, thanks to the bad touch up job done in the mid 80’s.

There was an effort made to preserve it, but Mr Wines said it would probably cost 150-200K and involve completely removing the asphalt, and then relayering it. The local newspaper ran columns on the subject and not a single positive response was received. Perhaps no one could remember the project was new, perhaps the novelty had worn off. It seems it’s only function now was as a landmark for giving directions thru town. With no funding and no interest, the owners had the artwork scrapped on 9/23/03.

The ghost parking lot when first constructed

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The Route 9 Dinosaur

The Route 9 dinosaur is a landmark in Berkley Township, NJ. It may have started its life as a promotional item for the Sinclair Oil company, which used dinosaurs as their trademark. If the interview done by Roadside America is correct, then the Route 9 Dinosaur is a mufflerman.

At one time the dinosaur wore a covering for a carpet and flooring company, and now it stands in front of a home decoration store. The dinosaur has been beheaded by car accidents twice, which isn’t surprising considering how close it sits to the road and how dangerous Route 9 is. The owner of the building where the dinosaur sits had him rebuilt with steel and a molded fiberglass head. It seems this dinosaur will remain on the street as a landmark for years to come.


Fisherman Memorial

Located next to the Cape May Coast Guard is this memorial to fisherman lost at sea. It has a list of all the fisherman lost in the area since … well since they started keeping track. Its most prominent feature is the statue of the wife with the kids looking out to sea.




Left Turns, aka The Liberty State Park Castle

Built in 1982, this hidden castle is a piece of “living art”, constructed by sculptor Charles Simonds. Said one of the people who helped him build it, “A big part of the philosophy behind Simonds work is the element of discovery. When you happen upon one of his works in the middle of nowhere, it has the same effect on the viewer as discovering the ruins of a lost civilization.”

They were sponsored by the State Art in Public Places program, in conjunction with the NEA. In a subsequent discussion at Rutgers, the artist who created the miniature city said, “Opposite two national monuments, Ellis Island & the Statue of Liberty, Left turns (the name of the project) consists of three sited elements, each separated and surrounded by tall pampas like grassy areas indigenous to the park. With the dramatic and still presence of Manhattan in view from each of the three sites, the works located within this setting form an intimate and powerful viewing experience and establish a close symbolic relationship between nature and civilization.”

There were two other art pieces created but the rising tides and marshes have reclaimed them.

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The Plaidmobile

Tim McNally has been working on his car continuously for over 5 years. The car began as red, and Tim added all the plaid elements himself by hand. It takes nearly one year to fully paint the car, and unfortunately by the time he’s done it’s time to start over…. Tim says he working with a new paint that will last a lot longer, but I do have to wonder… why not just use a stencil? After he changed the car to plaid, he began telling the state that the car was now plaid. Whenever the car’s registration was due, he sent it in to the state with the color red crossed out and the word plaid written in. When he received his registration back, it would still say red. But after 4 years the state finally gave in, and the proof is in the picture below…

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The Russian House

In 1915, Sam Goldman built a house which showed his ideals via relief images on the side of the home. The primary image is that of a family with a hammer & sickle. The area of Piscataway where it is located was once a Communist Cooperative called Fellowship Farms, which eventually went bankrupt. Many of the local streets still bear the name of communist ideals like International Way & Fellowship Road, although some of the more obvious names such as Karl marx Way have been changed over the years.