Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sun sets on the outspread wings of the angel in Fred Smith's Concrete Park

Sun Sets on the Outspread Wings of the Concrete Angel
Fred Smith's Wisconsin Concrete Park, Phillips, WI.
Nobody knows why I made them, not even me. This work just came to me naturally. I started one day in 1948 and have been doing a few a year ever since. -- Fred Smith
From 1948 until a stroke forced him to stop in 1964, Fred Smith built dozens of large concrete sculptures of people and animals around his Rock garden Tavern in Phillips. The expressionistic concrete forms were ornamented with a dazzling variety of glass fragments, mirrors and other found objects. Whether you call it folk art or call it outsider art, it reflects a self-taught artist's unique vision. It's one of the most memorable and enchanted places in Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, it's hidden away in the northern part of the state, about 230 miles directly north of Madison (click through the photo to Flickr to see the map in sidebar). We stopped by in 2002, on the way back from a trip to Bayfield. It was late in the day, and I didn't get many decent pictures, but I like this image of the angel silhouetted against the sunset (the wings are not concrete). It catches some of the haunting pesence of the figures in the park at dusk. You can read more about it at the website and also view a B&W collection of photos of the sculptures. A Google Image search will turn up lots more in color.

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