by Kristi Park
The examination of approximately five miles of the Wallingford, Phinney Ridge and Fremont neighborhoods in search of yard art; began as a self-seeking topic choice to cheer myself up on a gloomy and economically depressing day in Seattle, Washington. Over the course of the previous few weeks, I had begun noticing yard art in the front yards of single family homes and realized that I often smiled to myself upon seeing it. How can you not smile upon seeing little gnomes, spinning pinwheels, elaborate homemade sculptures and a rotting boot filled with moss? As I began to actually study yard art, the topic moved from beyond simple entertainment into a fascinating exploration of many different ideas. Why do people display yard art in their front yards? Why is it facing towards the street and not meant to be viewed from inside? Where does the private property begin and public end in a visual sense when the traditional front yard is very visually accessible to the public? Are these tiny pieces of art important in to urban environment?
Defining a small aggregate’s contribution to the greater concept of urbanity is a personal reflection, thus there are no absolute answers to my aforementioned questions. However, it makes me pause and wonder as our society moves in the direction of exterminating the opportunity for the public viewing of vernacular art through the development of secured housing, planned communities, funding for public art budget cuts and generic architecture; maybe not only is yard art important, but the broader concept of the individual’s ability to influence the urban environment and the public’ could be very important, even if it is simply by placing a tiny ceramic duck in a front yard.