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Yard Art

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
guides.

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
and appealing.

“Adding garden art heightens the beauty of outdoor
seating areas and landscaped areas. It’s decorative and sophisticated and it’s
functional, too.”

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
cafe.

“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
substantial art.”

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
more nurturing.”

Where to Find Kentucky Yard Art

Bandana/Yardbirds Inc.

Richard Kolb

2921 South Second Street

Louisville, KY 40208

(800) 828-9247

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

(502) 228-3597

Contemporary copper garden insects and flowers, hanging sculptures, and cat
guardians

Designed for You

Debbie Eoff

P.O. Box 1831

Ashland, KY 41105

(606) 928-6828

Suncatchers, plant sticks, lamps, angels, steppingstones

Gastineau Jewelry

Ken and Sally Gastineau

135 N. Broadway

Berea, KY 40403

(859) 986-9158

Steel sculptures

Hart-Art

Joe and Karen Hart

2245 Talbott Avenue

Louisville, KY 40205

(502) 262-7766

www.sprinklerart.com

Copper sprinkler sculptures and other garden accessories

Howard Wilson Design

Howard and Nancy Wilson

1012 Cherokee Road

Louisville, KY 40204

(502) 456-6168

Metal patio sculptures and garden hang-up sticks

Images

Stephen Ramsey

H.C. 72, Box 71

Monticello, KY 42633

(606) 340-0612

Wire horse sculptures

Kaleidoscope Stained Glass

Cliff Kennedy

704 Main Street

Covington, KY 41011

(859) 491-2222

Stained-glass garden stakes, wind chimes, trellises, and steppingstones

Kentucky Critters

Ronald and Charity Foster

557 Asbury Road

Augusta, KY 41002

(606) 728-2013

Metal garden bugs on a stick

Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation

609 W. Main Street

Louisville, KY 40202

(502) 589-0102

The gallery carries a variety of crafts from Kentucky artists. “Summer
Sizzle Garden Sale” during June on select garden art when using discount
card

Kirkwood Studio

P.J. Campbell and Louise D’Amours

17324 Kirkwood Drive

Catlettsburg, KY 41129

(606) 928-7488

Decorative and painted steel sculptures

Miller’s Metal Works

Larry Miller

4005 Sirate Lane

Louisville, KY 40229

(502) 969-5302

Ornamental sculpture for the home and garden

The Promenade Gallery

Kathy West

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

(502) 454-4769

Stainless steel garden art: trellises, planters, tables

Timmy’s Welding & Ornamental Works

John Salings

5640 Hwy. 44 West

Shepherdsville, KY 40165

(502) 543-8440

Pencil-rod welded furniture and

sculptures

Underwood Fine Metal Arts

Jeff Underwood

1540 Shore Acres

Frankfort, KY 40601

(859) 873-9565

Animal and flower garden art

Weidlich Studios

Brian H. Weidlich

3385 Boston Road

Lexington, KY 40503

(859) 223-2166

Glass and metal sculptures and

contemporary stained-glass panels

William M. and Sherrolyn Duffy

103 Northwestern Parkway

Louisville, KY 40212

(502) 772-0229

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
www.kyartsandcrafts.com.

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