Friday, November 12, 2010

Why I love Houston

I recently returned from Houston. I was at Quilt Market and had an incredible time! I used my Flip to videotape setting up our booth and also during the show and if you're interested, go here and here. You can see the fun we all have together!

Here is another reason why I love Houston: Kooky and Creative Homes.

"Some people say this is sculpture
but I didn't go to no expensive school to get these crazy notions."

That's what John Milkovisch said about his his house. It's the Beer Can House in Houston. It was in 1968 when he started covering his house with flattened beer cans and he worked on it over the next 18 years.

When he was asked why he covered his home with beer cans, he said, "I guess I just thought it was a good idea. And it's easier than painting."

An estimated 50,000 cans adorn this house. His favorite beer was "whatever's on special." His wife, Mary and neighbors gladly pitched in to help him drink them.

Mary in front of their home in 1992 (photo of Martin Williams Agency)

Here is how the house looks now.

A Beer Can House in the middle of a neighborhood. I someday hope to return during a weekend day so I can tour the inside of the house.

I don't know how he died. I certainly hope he didn't die of cirrhosis of the liver.

And across town we came across another creative and kooky home called The Orange Show. It's located in Houston's East End.

It was built by Jeff McKissack, a retired mailman who loved oranges. He built his folk art by using found objects from 1956 until his death in 1980.

Photo by Marilyn Oshman

I was hesitant to walk around, as this neighborhood appeared more dicey than the previous neighborhood. No one seemed to be around and I didn't want to trespass. Then we spotted a volunteer painter doing a bit of sprucing up and invited us in. He said that he never really stops painting. Once he's finished touching paint up at one end of the yard, he starts back at the beginning.

It's pretty fascinating.

He collected old mannequins, tiles, tractor seats, and metal on his mail route and he was a big dreamer while stuffing envelopes in mailboxes.

All his life, he dreamed big.

At various times in his life, he tried his fortune at worm farms, a plant nursery and even a beauty salon. Sadly, they were all failures.

But he continued to dream, each morning, waking up and building sculptures with his found objects.

And then one morning. after 25 years, he finally completed it.

He was so excited!

He opened up the doors and waited for the rush of people to come. But only a curious few had heard of his 25-year project in the making and most of them walked around scratching their heads... not knowing what to make of it.

Very few found it to be a great work by one man who lived and breathed creativity.

Seven months after the opening of his life-long dream, McKissack suffered a stroke and died.

Neighbors sought to destroy it, deeming their neighborhood had gone down in value by the site of this amusement park.

Fortunately a group of people who appreciated the work of this man started a foundation that would save the property from ruin and now have it listed on the National Register for Historic Place.

You can watch a video of the Orange Show and The Beer Can house here.


danny said...

Wow! I've heard of that beer can house I think!...I always gotta tip my hat to these amazing, creative, and just a bit wacky folks! They make the world fun...thanks for sharing this Shawn!

Patricia said...

I love you Shawn! Always enjoy finding that you have posted.

doodlegirl said...

Thanks Danny for reading!!!
Patricia! I had no idea you read my blog. thank you my dear friend. I love you, too!!! :O)

PunkToad said...

Radical Craft, I love it! Looks like you hit all the high points in Houston. We'll have to get back there some day.

Bob said...

Lots of art cars here in the Bay Area, but I know of no art houses like these. Maybe it takes someone older, with mature folk art sensibilities. ;-) Now that I'm in the age range of those two guys, maybe it's time to transform my house...

platitudinal said...

How fascinating! I think you have a special ability to find or unearth interesting things :)

*I should have you come to my town, perhaps you'll be able to open my eyes to its intriguing aspects!

Bethany Hissong said...

I love all the creativity... I think this shows that there are artists in places we never imagine to look!

doodlegirl said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. It's nice to "see you". :O)

Louis said...

Three things I like about Houston, Lessee, oh yeah, top 3 are;
1. We.
2. live,
3. there!

Louis and Debbie Solomon
Houston (The Woodlands) Texas