The latest in whimsical, colorful, and useful art for the garden
Pink flamingoes, move aside.
Kentucky yard art has a new look, made from natural
materials like metals and stone, and sophisticated stylings like stained glass
united with wrought iron and copper sculpted into functional objets d'art.
"There is growing interest in art for the yard
because people are more into gardening, more into the environment, and into
transitioning the indoors out and outdoors in," says Fran Redmon, director
of the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program, a state agency in the Kentucky Arts
Council, Education, Arts & Humanities Cabinet. "Technology is driving
us at such a pace, that the trend is toward creating relaxing and aesthetically
appealing home environments. One way people are expressing this need is through
creating an environment outdoors."
All this means good news for gardens in terms of
the art available. In place of country geese dressed in seasonal finery
there are copper frogs and flowers, wire horses, and stained-glass garden spikes.
There are trellises wrought from stainless steel and patio and garden sculptures
formed of stone. The trend has gone upscale and urbane, with some yard art purely
ornamental, some sleekly contemporary, and some downright whimsical. Most is
functional and all is handmade and crafted right here in the state.
Trading Cars for Copper
The green-eyed monster helped inspire Hart-Art, a
home-based business in Louisville that specializes in copper garden accessories.
Part owner of a body shop several years ago, Joe
Hart realized one day that he was tired of smelling fumes. He sold his interest
in the business to his partner and went home. Meanwhile, Joe's wife, Karen,
herself in the car business, toiled on in the nine-to-five grind.
"My wife was getting a bit jealous about going
to work every day with me at home," Joe laughs. "She said, 'We're
going to do something else.' "
The "something else" became handcrafted
copper spinning garden sprinklers and, later, torches, rain gauges, and hose
The couple have happily been in the business of creating
yard art in their basement for two and a half years now.
"We just started making things," says Joe.
"There was a lot of experimentation and throwing things away until we got
it right. A lot of research and development has gone into these products."
Mechanically inclined all his life, Joe drew on his
background in body shop work to help launch the business. Creative by nature,
Karen conceives the designs.
"She tells me what she wants made and I figure
out a way to make it."
The Harts now participate in about 30 art shows a
year, traveling from New York all the way down the East Coast to Florida. The
copper pieces are all hand-soldered and decorated with natural stone and reflect
a diversity in price and product. Hart-Art prices range from about $13 for the
hose guides to about $140 or more for the spinning sprinklers, with the rain
gauges and torches falling somewhere in between.
"Instead of an ugly, old sprinkler, people want
something pretty, but they want it to work, too," stresses Karen.
The melding of form and function follows the prevalence
of extending living space from the inside out into the lawn and landscape.
"We're spending more time at home and more time
entertaining at home," says Karen. "People want to make the most use
of their space, and this includes creating outdoor space that is comfortable
"Adding garden art heightens the beauty of outdoor
seating areas and landscaped areas. It's decorative and sophisticated and it's
Good Garden Bugs
Erica Kirchner, owner of Creature Comforts by
Erica, put her resourcefulness into creating garden sculpture about seven years
ago on her Prospect farm. Dragonflies, praying mantises, bumble bees, lizards,
frogs, turtles-the staked and freestanding all-weather copper insects and amphibians
are designed to perch in flowerbeds and prowl through landscaped garths.
The artist led a far different life before she redefined
her relation to the land.
"I had been a fine artist exhibiting paintings
in galleries for years, but it's a hard way to make a living so I got totally
out of art and became a farm manager."
One of Kirchner's best friends, a director at a Lexington museum, told her she
could not be a farm manager and ordered Kirchner back to her art. After a grant
she applied for to learn welding fell through, Kirchner decided to teach herself
to make the bugs she saw on her farm.
"I began playing around with copper and started
making grasshoppers and turtles."
Impressed with the copper designs, Kirchner's friend
next advised her to get into a juried program where only artists with topnotch
skills are invited to showcase their art. So the former fine artist and farm
manager put together her line of garden sculptures and set off for Kentucky
Crafted: The Market, a cultural showcase of the state's finest handicrafts.
"When I first started, I did the International
Gift Fair in New York and then the Kentucky Crafted: The Market show. One minute
I was not in business, the next minute I was-whether I wanted to be or not.
"It seems that people will spare no expense
on their gardens."
Kirchner is expanding her line to include two-dimensional
copper cat guardians and 3-foot-tall hanging sculptures, which she describes
as women's upside-down faces with long, flowing tendrils of hair.
"I wanted to do something unique, something
high-end, and I was thinking about kids hanging from trees," she says of
her inspiration to create the hanging sculpture. For the rest of her designs,
Kirchner says the inspiration part is easy.
"The insects come from where I live. And I have a million things going
on in my head and 25 years of drawings and sketches."
Staking Out the Garden
Following the lead of Louis Comfort Tiffany-the American
artist who developed an opalescent-colored glass that he used most famously
in lamps-Covington artist Cliff Kennedy, owner of Kaleidoscope Stained Glass
Studio, developed a garden stake three years ago that combines stained glass
with a metal frame.
The stake is an 8- or 12-inch disc that, according
to its creator, looks like a lollipop and is just as colorful once the art glass
is framed within the wrought-iron surround.
Like Tiffany, who drew on nature for inspiration,
Kennedy creates flower and bug designs in stained glass and then puts them back
in nature via his garden stakes, trellises, and wind chimes.
"For us, the true beauty of glass is when light
shines through it," he says. "With a nature motif, it's the perfect
combination for garden art." The artist is also an author, having penned
four books on art glass, including Steppin' Out into the Garden and Beyond
the Garden Wall, for creating garden mosaic steppingstones.
"These pieces bloom when your garden doesn't,"
notes fellow employee Jane Pompilio.
"Seeing this beautiful stained glass that changes
color according to different light is very soothing to the eye. On sunny days,
the colors are vibrant. As evening comes, the colors tone down."
Another artist specializing in garden stakes and
trellises, as well as potted plant suspenders, is Louisville sculptor Dave Caudill,
who welds stainless steel artworks on an architectural scale. One of his works,
a 7-foot-tall knife, fork, and spoon commissioned by the Brown-Forman Corporation
of Louisville, stands in the garden area just outside the company's executive
"Serious landscaping has become very popular,"
asserts Caudill. "As folks invest more time and money to create a beautiful
lawn and garden, they seem to be ready to move beyond ornament to invest in
Caudill's sculptures have struck a chord with individuals
seeking everything from the stylistic to the sublime. Caudill's welded stainless
steel sculptures are often used as unique trellises.
"People are taking some of their resourcefulness
and money and are trying to make themselves happy," says Caudill. "Whether
through whimsical or serious art, people are still constructing this nest. Tending
the lawn and landscape and planting trees that will last through generations
changes everything about an individual's relation to the land. People become
Where to Find Kentucky Yard Art
2921 South Second Street
Louisville, KY 40208
Metal sculptures made from recycled machinery parts and garden tools
Creature Comforts by Erica
Erica M. Kirchner
8213 Wolf Pen Branch Road
Prospect, KY 40059
Contemporary copper garden insects and flowers, hanging sculptures, and cat
Designed for You
P.O. Box 1831
Ashland, KY 41105
Suncatchers, plant sticks, lamps, angels, steppingstones
Ken and Sally Gastineau
135 N. Broadway
Berea, KY 40403
Joe and Karen Hart
2245 Talbott Avenue
Louisville, KY 40205
Copper sprinkler sculptures and other garden accessories
Howard Wilson Design
Howard and Nancy Wilson
1012 Cherokee Road
Louisville, KY 40204
Metal patio sculptures and garden hang-up sticks
H.C. 72, Box 71
Monticello, KY 42633
Wire horse sculptures
Kaleidoscope Stained Glass
704 Main Street
Covington, KY 41011
Stained-glass garden stakes, wind chimes, trellises, and steppingstones
Ronald and Charity Foster
557 Asbury Road
Augusta, KY 41002
Metal garden bugs on a stick
Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation
609 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
The gallery carries a variety of crafts from Kentucky artists. "Summer
Sizzle Garden Sale" during June on select garden art when using discount
P.J. Campbell and Louise D'Amours
17324 Kirkwood Drive
Catlettsburg, KY 41129
Decorative and painted steel sculptures
Miller's Metal Works
4005 Sirate Lane
Louisville, KY 40229
Ornamental sculpture for the home and garden
The Promenade Gallery
204 Center Street
Berea, KY 40403
Toll-free (877) 986-1609
The shop carries the craftworks of many Kentucky artists
The Studios of Dave Caudill
1261 Willow Avenue
Louisville, KY 40204
Stainless steel garden art: trellises, planters, tables
Timmy's Welding & Ornamental Works
5640 Hwy. 44 West
Shepherdsville, KY 40165
Pencil-rod welded furniture and
Underwood Fine Metal Arts
1540 Shore Acres
Frankfort, KY 40601
Animal and flower garden art
Brian H. Weidlich
3385 Boston Road
Lexington, KY 40503
Glass and metal sculptures and
contemporary stained-glass panels
William M. and Sherrolyn Duffy
103 Northwestern Parkway
Louisville, KY 40212
Contemporary stone sculptures
For more information about these Kentucky artists, contact the Kentucky Craft
Marketing Program at (888) 592-7238, extension 4817, or visit its Web site at