Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Florida Yard Art

One day while was still in Florida, I was out for a walkabout in the neighborhood around my sister and brother-in-law's house when I encountered this very interesting mailbox. Very artistic and I judged it to be a custom creation. As I then examined this homesite a bit more carefully, I discovered all manner of artwork. No, it was not the clich├ęd pink flamingo or that annoying Travelocity gnome — but genuine art objects.

I mentioned my sighting to Danny (my brother-in-law) who said they (he and my sister) thought the homeowner was an artist and these were his creations. Supporting that conclusion was the fact that the owner had added on a wing to his home that looked like it could be an artist's studio.

So I returned a few days later, camera in hand to capture some of these visual treats to share with you. Fortuitously, the owner was sitting outside his garage — which made it easy to get the straight story — and to get permission to photograph the sculptures (many artists are very touchy about people photographing their artwork). Incidentally, the reason he was sitting outside was so he could smoke his cigar. Apparently his wife does not allow that activity inside the house.

Well, it turned out that the homeowner is not an artist but a collector — having traveled extensively (including to Arizona) where he purchased items that he found satisfying to his artistic senses. And he was quite happy to let me take a few pictures — in fact, I suspect he might have felt my interest was a compliment on his taste in art — and I guess it was.

The funny thing for me is that I am not a big fan of modern art paintings but I love modern sculpture. The two birds, for instance, were fashioned from junk — but the artist selected just the right pieces of junk, welded them ever so perfectly then colorized the metal — to fashion several of the bird species found in this area. Way cool!

This is the centerpiece of his front yard — Danny calls it "The Wave". I second that name.

Now I'm sure that the homeowner did not find an artistic garage door on his travels so I suspect he had this commissioned. And if you look back at the first photo, you would likely conclude (as I did) that these two practical pieces were done by the same artist.

This gate into the area just outside the front door would also appear to have come from that same artist. Note the juxtaposition of these two figures on either side of the front gate. It looks like they just got up from a good night of sleep and are stretching to clean out the mental cobwebs before facing the day.

I would also guess that the owner has very eclectic tastes (as do I) since many of the pieces were so different in style. For instance, the gate and figures above likely came from different artists with very different materials, techniques and style. Then check out how different is the piece to the right — shiny spheres and hemispheres with colorful metallic coatings.

Different still are a number of pieces in this little side area. I focused on the metal palm tree and did not even notice the flute player at the base until I opened the image in Photoshop. And if you look closely, there are even more art items scattered about in the same photo.

And don't you just love this modern take on the traditional totem pole? The artist was obviously not trying to steal the traditional design but to give his fanciful take on the genre.

Ah, one of my favorite pieces of art in this collection. But there is a piece of serendipity that also makes this my favorite photo I took that day — and again I did not realize it until I loaded the file into Photoshop.

Did you notice the dragonfly to the left of the golf clubs? I certainly did not when I took the photo or even when I previewed it in Bridge (a part of Photoshop that allows you to preview and organize your photos).

So I decided to provide you a larger image than I usually include in LAHP just to make the dragonfly more visible.

Incidentally, a few weeks ago I attended the Photoshop World Conference in Las Vegas where I learned about a new approach to sharpening photos. Digital cameras typically produce images that are not really, really sharp but sharpness is exactly what photographers want. Sharpening is the process that we go through in Photoshop (or other photo processing software) to make the image look sharper by emphasizing the difference along edges.

The goal is to make the image look sharp without leaving defects that tell the observer that the photo was sharpened or more accurately oversharpened. Those defects are typically halos along edges that, to me, are quite annoying. I hope you like what I have applied my recent learning in this photo and the others to make them sharper without overdoing it.

One of the biggest pieces of artwork is this customized Chevrolet Corvette. The paintwork was done by Romero Britto, a Brazilian neo-pop wall decorator, painter, serigrapher and sculptor who lives in Miami. He combines stereotyped elements of cubism, pop art and graffiti painting in his work as you can see in this Corvette. The man who owns this home and car (pictured sitting outside his garage in this photo) is a personal friend of Britto's.

Not only did Britto sign his Corvette masterpiece, he also allowed the owner to use his name on the personalized license plates. However, I would have a hard time taking this Vette out for a spin for fear of having something happen that would mar this automotive work of art.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com