There’s a dinosaur in Pittsfield. It might not be the first place you’d expect to find one, a town in western Massachusetts. As I photographed it, people came out of the museum and looked. Engrossed, I noticed the statue’s broken tail, but not the contretemps between policeman and driver on the street.
For the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Sinclair Oil had built Dinoland–a pavillion with nine animatronic dinosaurs. Why dinosaurs? Sinclair Oil’s logo is a shield with a brontosaurus on it, based I assume on the (false) belief that oil came from dinosaurs.
After the Fair, the animatronics were removed and the sculptures ultimately dispersed around the States. But this stegosaurus? This one was never at the Worlds’ Fair. It’s a copy of Sinclair Oil’s original stegosaurus (minus animatronics, sadly).
For 30 years, “Steggie” the Stegosaurus stood outside the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio. In 1997 it was moved here—outside the Berkshire Museum—and renamed “Wally.”
As I walked away, I finally noticed the driver standing next to his car, shouting at the policeman. I smiled at the man who had walked out of the museum to watch. I wasn’t sure whether it was the policeman or me he was looking at. Maybe both. He smiled at me before turning to go back inside.
This is one in a series of linked posts on the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. Follow this link to see the others.
The Boy Mayor of New York, John Purroy Mitchel was mayor from 1914-1917, most of World War I. A leading Reformer, he lost reelection in 1917. The country was at war. What was an ex-Boy Mayor to do?
Now aged a sprightly 38, he joined the Air Service. The United States Air Service was bright, shiny and new at that point. Having been formed in May 1918, they’d barely taken the wrapping paper off.
John Purroy Mitchel, Boy Mayor of New York, died on July 6th, 1918. He fell out of his training airplane. He’d forgotten to fasten his seatbelt. A somewhat ignominious end.
The golden monument dedicated to him is in Central Park, New York City. Walk west along 90th until you get to the Park. If you’re driving, don’t forget to strap in.
Like a gigantic explosion, the 1939 New York World’s Fair showed 44 million people “the world of tomorrow”: a talking robot, nylon stockings and the Futurama–General Motor’s vision of a city in 1960. And like any other explosion, shards were scattered throughout the world after the Fair closed. Hidden in plain sight, I collect these shards. I visit them, photograph them and assemble them.
Today I drove over 150 miles to Bennington, Vermont to see one such shard. A statue of Lincoln cast for the Illinois Building. It now stands outside the Bennington Museum, green and streaked with age.
You stand in front of it, look up and and think… oh dear. Oh dear. Continue reading
Just to the south of the Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus, Ohio is an enormous sculpture of a gavel. It might be the world’s largest gavel, but I can’t find any confirmation of it.
One reason I love travelling the country, visiting things like “the world’s largest strawberry” or “the biggest Cherry Pie pan in the Western Hemisphere” is because I love the insane creativity which goes into them. They are gaudy, weird, colourful, silly. They’re a celebration of life.
But the giant gavel in downtown Columbus is… well, it’s kind of boring. 13 feet high and 30 feet long, it’s made of about 7,000lbs of stainless steel. Andrew F. Scott completed it in 2008. Here’s an interview with him about the work:
I wanted to like the gavel, but it’s grey and dreary. In some ways, Scott’s hands were tied: his sculpture had to fit in with the austere surroundings. The Ohio Judicial Building next door is a horrible blot on the landscape. Proof that Art Deco buildings can look bad, it looks like a prison: an institutionalised disaster with tiny, pokey windows. I was glad to get back in the car and drive off to see something else.
Address: Park on the south side of the Ohio Judicial Center, 65 S. Front Street, Columbus, Ohio
Hours: Visible 24/7
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Say you’ve got a problem with dogs fowling the sidewalk in your neighbourhood. What’s your solution? Sculptor Jerzy S. Kenar decided to make a fountain in the shape of a gigantic dog poop in front of his house.
I’d probably have done the same.
It’s just an ordinary road in Chicago’s East Village. It has the same problems as every other ordinary road in the world, as Kenar explained:
“I have flowers in front of the gallery, and someone [will be] walking their dog and the dog is jumping there… and shitting there and someone is not picking [it] up.”
You’re more likely to be familiar with Kenar’s religious art—his work can be found in the churches of St Kevin, St Constance and the Holy Trinity Polish Mission in Chicago. His “Shit Fountain” (2005), perhaps, seems a little out of place in his oeuvre.
Kenar was born in Poland in 1948 but escaped the Soviet bloc by emigrating to Sweden in 1973. The allure of Ikea and ABBA was not enough to keep him here, so he moved to Chicago in 1979.
His “Shit Fountain” is intended to be funny and ironic. Water trickles over it, giving it a fresh, wet look.
But given the dog poop on the street by his house, I’m not sure it’s doing a whole lot to stem the tide of canine bowel movements in the immediate vicinity.
Shit Fountain, Chicago
Address: 1001 North Wolcott Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
Hours: Visible 24/7
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