Most folk art I’ve seen is exhibited at the artist’s home. For me, that makes it more intimate. I’m seeing what’s inside them in a place where they are most comfortable. They’ve arranged all the pieces instead of some museum employee. Almost every aspect of the experience is created by the artist. Often these artists aren’t classically trained so their work is uninhibited by rules or structure that other artists might feel constrained by. Today I was able to visit two folk artists’ work.
Today totally made up for yesterday! The drive was better, the sights were better, and the people were infinitely better! I’ll admit, after 15 days on the road my body is getting a bit sore. The drastic changes in elevation and temperature have caused a few small headaches. None of that stopped today from being amazing!
My first stop was Cano’s Castle. Like some other folk art I’ve seen, this structure was built at the suggestion of God. Cano, a very private man, calls it “Jesus’ Castle” and claims said messiah has lived there since 1987. He’s been asking for Jesus to be his wing man in cleaning up Washington, D.C. Apparently the government has not been kind to Cano over the years, as he claims he had to be on food stamps for 35 years, his uncle was murdered by a corrupt sheriff, and his dad’s land was given to a Nazi while he (the dad) was fighting in WWII. I’m not sure what Jesus has been doing sitting around the castle but I hope he’s been of some help to Cano. Cano actually lives across the street, so I’m curious if our lord and savior just struts around nude all the time. I imagine an aluminum castle can get pretty hot and if you live alone, why not be nude?
The castle is made of scrap metal with beer cans making up a significant portion. My love of Diet Coke is no secret, I wonder if my neighbors would let me build one of these. Hockessin, Delaware is severely lacking in folk art.
From there I went to see some of my favorite mega-fauna. Located on the aptly named Dinosaur Trail, I met a family of brontosaurus. I should have done more research on this stop. I figured dino family on dino trail should be easy. Unfortunately it wasn’t in a park or accessible area. I had to settle for this silly drive by picture.
With a bit of serendipity however, I found the surrounding area was full of junk art and sculpture gardens! I had to stop and pull over several times while heading to the highway. My first and favorite find was this guy.
About 500 feet down the road I found a yard full of whirligigs. There was barely a breeze and they were still scooting around. I was impressed.
Almost across the street from these was a sculpture garden that wound itself to a gift shop/artist studio. While beautiful, I couldn’t afford anything in the show room.
From there I went to my second folk art exhibit. Tinkertown is some of the most sophisticated and impressive folk art I’ve seen. Forty years in the making, it started traveling with fairs and carnivals in the 60s and 70s. It’s creator sadly passed away at the young age of 57. Like House on the Rock, many of the mechanisms cost a quarter to play but they were totally worth it. Here are a few videos I was able to snap with my phone.
Emily jumps without quarters or buttons being pushed. Apparently nonstop for 45 years.
How cool are these guys?!
This was my favorite…
On the left side of that last diorama was this fantastic warning:
The best part of this entire day was meeting Cap’n Fritz at Tinkertown. This is one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met. By trade, he makes guitars. Beyond that he’s a sailor, explorer, and fountain of worldly knowledge. He even gave me a brief lesson on how to use a sextant! I’m an idiot and didn’t take a picture, but the boat that Cap’n Fritz sailed around the world (Theodora R) is now in the middle of a barn in Tinkertown, well away from the oceans it has conquered. There was a map next to the boat that showed his many travels over 10 years. Sinbad had nothing on this guy. He translated his journals from his days at sea into a book and kindly autographed a copy for me. I’m excited to read it and am sure it’ll put ideas for future trips in my head. He also posed for a picture with the lovely women in the gift shop to show off their fancy, new toothbrushes. You three are fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your time and selling me an awesome hoodie!
Cap’n Fritz actually lives between Wisconsin and Jamaica (I think that’s what he said) but is minding the shop for his sister who is visiting Mongolia. Mongolia is top on my to-do list! And sailing around the world is a dream of mine! I told him that if his family wants to adopt me, I come mostly house broken. He said he never wants to be captain of a boat for a major trip again but he’d be willing to crew. I told him when I’m ready, he’s hired!
I was also happy that I walked away from Tinkertown with another penny.
Because I can’t get enough pennies or gift shops, I made a detour into the Cline’s Corner Gift Shop. It’s just a large truck stop with tacky gift shop and fireworks store attached. It was a good penny/potty break. Their penny machines need maintenance though. You can barely see the imprint.
I was suppose to go to a swimming hole for the remainder of my day but there was lightning so I scrubbed that idea. Instead I cruised over to the Billy the Kid Museum in Fort Sumner. The gentleman working the desk was one of the nicest guys. When a penny machine ate my penny, he took change out of the register and got me a new one.
When I told him I was from Delaware he said something like “Oh that’s a great place to incorporate!” I mentioned we also have chickens and he went into a story about his nephew being a chick-a-terian (only eats chicken). I’m not sure that’s a thing. The guy was so nice I wanted to give him a toothbrush and take his picture but I didn’t want him to read this post.
The museum is inexpensive and has some interesting stuff. Unfortunately only about 30% of the content is Billy the Kid related. His rifle is there! That was cool. After that though, I saw nostalgic soda decorations, typewriters, antique cars, and Barbie dolls. Most of these things are post-Billy and I can’t imagine what they have to do with his life. Also I saw pictures of Billy and friends’ grave online when looking into this museum. Turns out they’re replica graves you can take your picture with…fans of Billy should stick to watching Young Guns 1 & 2. Only visit the museum if you want to meet that nice man.
Finally I made it to my hotel in Roswell, NM, home of the infamous alien encounter. I’m excited to stay here two nights as it gives me a day where I’m not driving hundreds of miles. Fun thing about my room, I have two switches above my bed painted to match the wall. I was curious what they controlled so I flipped them. They aren’t light switches. The breakers for my room are exposed and camouflaged above my bed. I don’t care though, the lady who checked me in gave me a free Diet Coke. I love this place.