A Wall Street Journal reporter seems to be mining the kooky Kansas beat, which I used to fancy as my own. After writing about the Big Well in Greensburg, Ks., she wrote a piece on the eccentric roadside sculpture in nearby Mullinville, Ks., pop. 202, which has long been a source of fascination for my family as we drive to and from my in-laws house in western Kansas. Last December, in addition to slowing down on the not-that-busy state highway to look more closely at the ever-growing line of scrap-metal whirligigs, many of them with political references of an indeterminate nature, we turned north on a country road in town and past the sculptor’s workshop – a shed with heaps of scrap metal and half-finished whirligigs (maybe that’s gigs.) There must be several hundred by now along the road – made of junk metal, glass bottles, presumably pilfered road signs, toilet seats, tractor gears, bowling balls, all whirling in the wind.
From the WSJ story, we learned that the sculptor is 79-year-old farmer named M.T. Liggett, that his subjects include three former wives and many girlfriends including one portrayed as a mouse in pearls holding a piece of cheese, caught in a mousetrap. (Guess that relationship didn’t go so well.) Among his favorites is one of Bill Clinton with a padlock welded to the zipper of his pants. Word has it that the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore – which I was dismayed to discover was closed on the Monday I visited – is displaying Liggett’s work.
It’s part of a genre of art by self-taught folks known variously as grassroots art or naive art – and Kansas is full of it. Stay tuned.
For more, see: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748703894304575047461204497670-lMyQjAxMTAwMDAwOTEwNDkyWj.html