Nolagirl and I were at the Grand Avenue Festival in November
of 2017. As we walked down the avenue looking at public art and popping into
galleries to see the cool pieces on display, we came across a Little Free
If you don’t already know from reading my blog or from your own experience, Wikipedia says,
Like other public book exchanges, a passerby can take a book to read or leave one for someone else to find. The [Little Free Library] organization relies on volunteer “stewards” to construct, install, and maintain book exchange boxes. For a book exchange box to be registered, and legally use the Little Free Library brand name, stewards must purchase a finished book exchange, a kit or, for a DIY project, a charter sign, which contains the “Little Free Library” text and official charter number.
The LFL we encountered on Grand Avenue was not your everyday
Little Free Library, not at all! It was a Little FREEK [sic] Library. Someone
came along and with one letter changed this registered Little Free Library
(charter #5315) into a Little Freek Library.
I know I’ve said in the past that anyone who would steal or vandalize a Little Free Library has problems
and needs prayers, but I’m not upset that someone with a Sharpie turned a
Little Free Library into a Little Freek Library. In fact, I think it’s
hilarious. I guess I’m a hypocrite. Oh well.
This “vandalizing” doesn’t upset me because I don’t think this “vandalizing” hurts anyone. It’s not like the “vandal” wrote anything vulgar or offensive on the LFL. There’s no hate speech here, no drawings of Nazi swastikas, no racism or misogyny, just the request to “celebrate freakier neighborhoods.” I just can’t argue with that. I think freakier neighborhoods (and freakier neighbors, for that matter) do need to be celebrated, especially in places like Phoenix that can seem very mainstream and somewhat boring (at least to me).
There were only a couple of books in the Little Freek
Library, and they seemed old and in poor condition. I wished I had a few books
with me to contribute to this LFL. It really needed some book love.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to revisit this LFL before I left town.
I’ve visited Little Free Libraries in Los Gatos, CA; Santa Fe and Taos, NM; Flagstaff and Mesa, AZ; and others in Phoenix too, but this was my first Little Freek Library. I was pretty excited to have stumbled across. Let your freek flag fly, Little Free Library on Grand Avenue. Let your freek flag fly.
To celebrate Nevada Day, today I will share with you photos I took of Nevada Car at spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity that I attended with Nolagirl in the spring of 2018. Interestingly, Nevada Car hails from Bisbee, AZ. The Art Car Agency website says the art was created by David Best and is owned by Patrick Dailey.
It turns out that David Best is a big deal when it comes to art cars. In the 2015 article “David Best: the Man Who Builds Art – and Burns It” author Geoff Dyer writes that Best got into doing art cars
in the early 1980s, in Houston, right at the beginning of the art-car craze but – in a way that is typical – is careful to emphasize that he was just one of a number of people involved at the time, that the first art car was actually done by Jackie Harris.
Here’s a front view of Nevada Car.
It was really difficult to get a photo of the full view of this car with my camera. In my opinion that’s actually ok because the beauty is in the details.
Here’s some sort of gaming device attached to the car. In the same photo I see about a hundred tiny white buttons, a plastic sea turtle, a stack of smaller-than-life traffic cones that were maybe once bright orange but are now faded and dingy, a toy baseball batter, a combination lock, and a dozen rusty bottle caps. What do you see that I’m missing?
In this photo it looks like a dozen gumball machines and a kindergarten class worth of Happy Meals upchucked onto a relatively small area of the car. All of these crappy plastic toys merge into such a cohesive whole that it’s hard to pick out individual objects. Look! There’s Buzz Lightyear! To the right, a dozen plastic crabs! I see a leg! I see a lion! I see creatures I can’t identify.
In an article on the KQED Spark website, Best’s process is described like this:
… Best strips vehicles down to the core before reconstructing them, striving to make the car’s original form unrecognizable. Rather than merely gluing objects to the body of a car, Best, who religiously goes to the dump, likes to use found object materials that ultimately take on their own personality. After making 30 art cars and 2 buses, Best has worked with over 10,000 people.
It’s easy for me to imagine an artist finding these items at the dump and being delighted to add them to an art car work in progress.
I’m not sure why this is piece is called Nevada Car. Because of the gaming devices? Because of the gaming device that says “Nevada Club”? I wish this exhibit of art cars had included statements from the artists.
I like the juxtaposition of the statues of saints next to this old gaming device. Is it a commentary on praying for luck? An observation of the degree to which our society treats money as divine? A mere putting-together of objects in a way that looked pleasing to the artist’s eye?
I found my favorite feature of Nevada Car, and it didn’t have much to do with Nevada. I’m not talking about the BMW emblem either.
I’ll leave you with a wish for a Happy Nevada day and a self portrait with dancing bear in chrome.
The public land around Flagstaff, AZ has offered me and The Man (and Jerico the dog) places to stop over (for a night or a week or even two weeks) on our way to new adventures. In April of 2017, we left Ajo, AZ and spent a night outside of Flagstaff on our way to Taos, NM. Later that year in late June we spent a few days and nights near Flagstaff on our way to jobs in the mountains of California. In April of 2018 we again found ourselves in Flagstaff area for a couple of weeks before we went to our Cali jobs. We stayed until the prospect of an early May snowstorm sent us packing. We found ourselves in the area again in late September of 2018 when our jobs in the California mountains ended. We hung out near Flagstaff until the temperature dropped and it was cool enough go back to our fifth wheel in Why, AZ.
During one of our 2018 stays, The Man decided he wanted to try to sell some of the pendants he’d made in Heritage Square. According to the Heritage Square Trust website,
We arrived fairly early on a Saturday morning and stopped
the van close enough to drop off a table as well as The Man’s jewelry and
jewelry-making supplies. Then The Man parked the van farther away where we
wouldn’t get a ticket while I stood guard over his belongings. After setting up
his table and arranging his pendants, The Man began working on a new piece. I
wandered around Heritage Square taking photos.
There’s a cool statue of a colorful cat in Heritage Square called Asset #15. According to the Encircle Photos website, it is part of the PAWS project.
This is one of the eventual 40, life-size painted mountain lions found around Flagstaff…The PAWS project is sponsored by the Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth. Each sculpture portrays one of the developmental assets essential to raising a healthy and successful child. For example, this is “Asset #15 – Positive Peer Influence.”
I also like the exhibit of the Grand Canyon strata. It’s a nice display of information about the natural wonder only 81 miles away. According to the aforementioned Heritage Square Trust website,
The base of the flag pole contains actual rocks from the Grand Canyon placed carefully to reflect the geologic strata of the Canyon, with Vishnu schist on the bottom and Kaibab limestone on the top.
My favorite part of Heritage Square was the Little Free Library (LFL) I was pleasantly surprised to find there. Little Free Libraries are grassroots gift economy projects. LFLS are places where people can leave books they don’t want; anyone is allowed to take one or more books from the libraries. According to the Little Free Library organization,
A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share.
I thought this was a registered Little Free Library with a
charter number, but after looking at the photos I took of it, I see that it is
a renegade LFL! I do love me a renegade! The LFL is a project of Oasis
Flagstaff and the Downtown Business Alliance. It goes to show that a Little
Free Library doesn’t have to be “official” to be built well and look nice.
I appreciate its sturdy construction, which surely makes it less attractive to thieves and vandals.
Let me say here, anyone who steals or vandalizes a Little Free Library has problems and needs prayers. According to the Little Free Library FAQs,
Small incidents of vandalism are common. Things like having a guest book stolen or a few books damaged are going to happen at one point or another. Bigger problems, like having all of your books “stolen” or your entire Library damaged, are much less common. In our annual survey of Little Free Library stewards, more than 80% of stewards reported never dealing with significant vandalism.
I didn’t take any
books from the LFL that day or leave any behind either, but I paid another
visit to it before we left town. I dropped off one book (The Unincorporated Man) and took one to replace it (a historical
romance set in Chicago during World War II, the title of which I cannot
I love visiting Little Free Libraries, even if I don’t take or leave books. I’ve visited LFLs in Los Gatos, CA; Phoenix and Mesa, AZ; Santa Fe, NM; and Taos County, NM. The LFL in Heritage Square was my first (but not my last) in Flagstaff. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see it.
As for The Man’s jewelry sales, it was a bust. He didn’t
sell a single thing. Hardly any people walked through the square, and the ones
who did didn’t even stop to look. Maybe we were too early. The last time we’d
gone there and found traveling kids making jewelry, playing drums and guitars,
and generally hanging out, it had been later in the day.
There’s no shade in Heritage Square, and we hadn’t brought an umbrella or an awning. By noon the sun was beating down, and we were quite hot, so we packed up and drove a few miles back to the woods.
anyone may contribute or take books [from a Little Free Library]…If you take a book (or two) from a Library, you do not need to return that exact book. However, in order to keep the Little Library full of good choices for the whole neighborhood, the next time you swing by the Library bring a few books to share. Little Library book exchanges function on the honor system; everyone contributes to ensure there are always quality books inside..
The first LFL we visited was Helen’s Little Free Lending Library on 28th Street. The second one we visited was on Cheery Lynn Street. This second visit was really special because we got to meet the Little Free Library steward. She was the first LFL steward I ever met, and out of all the Little Free Libraries I’ve visited in three states and six cities (Los Gatos, CA; Santa Fe and Taos, NM; Flagstaff, Mesa, and Phoenix, AZ) she is the only LFL steward I’ve ever met!
When we pulled up in front of the Little Free Library on Cheer Lynn Street, there was a car in the driveway, and a young-mom type of woman was taking groceries out of the trunk. She totally saw us pull up, so Nolagirl and I decided we should get out of the car and say hi. We explained to the lady that we were on a Little Free Library tour and asked her if she was the steward of this one. She said yes, we said it was really cute, and she went into her house. It was a totally pleasant, brief exchange. (It would be surprising and horrible if a Little Free Library steward were a grouchy, mean person who hated talking to strangers.)
This LFL was constructed of wood that had been stained so
the natural grain showed clearly. I think the upkeep on this one is probably
pretty easy because no paint touchups are required. The sign on the bottom of
the door says that this is a registered LFL with a charter number (65262), but
it doesn’t have an official name like Helen’s Little Free Lending Library.
This LFL held only children’s books, so I didn’t take any. I
didn’t leave any either, since I didn’t have any children’s books to donate. I
felt ok about my role in both situations. I didn’t need any books, and the LFL
was plenty full even if I didn’t leave anything.
Sometime after our visit to Cheery Lynn Street, we went to 11th Avenue, where we found another registered, wooden Little Free Library (charter #10682). This time we did not have the pleasure of meeting the steward. There weren’t many books in this LFL, and I felt sorry I didn’t have a stack to stock it with. What a fun endeavor it would be to drive around with stacks of good books, going from one Little Free Library to another, making sure each one was well stocked with reading material for the people.
World Photography Day…aims to inspire photographers across the planet to share a single photo with a simple purpose: to share their world with the world.
Unfortunately, at the time I’m writing this post (on Christmas Day 2018) I can’t figure out where we are supposed to share our single photo today. The World Photo Day Facebook page hasn’t been updated since August 2017, and when I go to the Wold Photo Day website, I get an Error 521 message (“web server is down”). Maybe by the time this post actually runs in August of 2019, there will be updated information out in the world.
In the meantime, I want to share photos today of two of my favorite things: cameras and vans!
Yep, it’s the Camera Van!
Nolagirl and I encountered Camera Van at spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity which we attended in the spring of 2018. There were a lot of art cars there and a few art vans too, including Camera Van.
…covered with more than 2,000 cameras and assorted photography paraphernalia. It took him two years to complete.
Harrod Blank is also the creator of the Art Car World museum in Douglas, AZ. According the the musem’s website, Art Car World is
[a] museum dedicated entirely to the celebration and preservation of this popular mobile art form…located in historic downtown Douglas, Arizona. Currently under construction, Art Car World will feature a permanent collection of 42 popular Art Cars with more on rotating exhibition.
Art Car World is located at 450 E 8th Street in Douglas, AZ and is open by appointment only. You can contact the museum to schedule a visit or to get more information via email at email@example.com or by sending a letter to the street address given above.
Be sure to visit the Camera Van website to see the surprise on the vehicle’s roof.
If you like, take some photos today. Share them on Facebook or Instagram or go old school and have prints made. However you do it, use photography to share your world with the world.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read about another art van called California Fantasy Van and an art car called J Gurl that were also at the spark! Festival.
My favorite Little Free Library (LFL) Nolagirl and I visited during our Phoenix Little Free Library excursion was the second one we went to. This one has the name “Friendly by Nature,” and the charter number is 5974. This registered LFL is decorated with beautiful, colorful mosaics and sits at the front of a yard decorated with more mosaics.
Little Free Library is a registered nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.
As soon as Nolagirl parked in front of the house this LFL
belongs to, I was attracted to the library’s bright colors. I was really
excited when I got out of the vehicle and moved closer to the library and
discovered the brightly colored scenes were composed from irregular tiles. WOW!
I also greatly appreciated the desert scenes featured on this LFL. Pictured on
the LFL are a saguaro cactus, the hot midday sun, and the starry night visible
when one leaves the city behind. Beneath the moonlight, there is a row of
books, much like those found in the actual Little Free Library.
The outside of the Little Free Library was not the only thing on the property sporting bright mosaics. Several round poles just beyond the LFL were also decorated with colorful tiles. I didn’t want to infringe upon the privacy of the steward of the little library, but I did snap a few photos of other pieces of mosaic art.
I was so impressed with the artistic work that I wrote out a
quick note expressing my appreciation. I left the note tucked in the LFL. I
think it’s really important to tell people when we like their work. I know from
experience that artists often don’t get enough positive feedback, so I like to
rectify that situation when I can.
I left my email address on the note, and several days later I was pleased to find a message from the artist in my inbox. She wrote,
Thank you for the postcard regarding my Little Free Library and my other mosaics. I retired from Intel about three years ago and started making mosaics. I have done many commissions.
My adobe house, courtyard and casita are my inspiration!
The artist then invited me to come over and see more of her mosaics! Wow! I was so flattered. Unfortunately, I already had plans for all of my days in Phoenix and I was unable to visit the artist and see more of her work. So disappointing! I’ve dropped the ball during my subsequent visits to Phoenix and never made plans to go over to this gracious woman’s house. My bad. Maybe someday I can still pay her a visit. I sure hope so because I want to see more of these splendid mosaics!
I was in Phoenix visiting Nolagirl in November 2017. She knows I love Little Free Libraries, so she suggested we visit the ones we could find in town. I thought it sounded like a fun excursion, so I readily agreed. I’d visited Little Free Libraries in Los Gatos, CA , Mesa, AZ, and Santa Fe and Taos, NM and was really excited to see more of these awesome manifestations of gift economy.
A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share.
The first Little Free Library (LFL) we visited that day was
on 28th Street. Nolagirl said she passed it all the time.
When we approached the LFL on 28th Street, the
first thing I noticed was the great color scheme. I love the dark blue main
color, especially with the lavender accents. I also like the four little
windows that let you look into the library and the door that swings open to
offer access to the books.
The next thing I noticed about this LFL is that it is “official.” There is a charter number (44511) on the left hand side of the sign that comes from the Little Free Library organization. Having a charter number means this LFL is registered with the Little Free Library organization and should pop up on the organization’s internet map of LFL locations. The LFL organizations says other benefits of registering a Little Free Library include
Before I started writing this post, I had another look at the photos I took of this library. When I looked at the photos, I realized this LFL has its own name. It’s not just some generic Little Free Library. It’s “Helen’s Little Lending Library.” This realization leads me to ask many questions. Who is Helen? Yes, she’s probably the library steward, the person who maintains this LFL, but who is she really? Why did she decide to start a LFL? What’s her favorite part of having one? Also, how does a Little Free Library get its very own unique name? Does it cost extra to name your LFL?
There were several books to choose from in Helen’s Little Lending Library, but nothing I really wanted to read, so I left them all behind. I also left behind a couple of books I had to donate. I felt good about being a contributor. After all, we can’t expect Helen to do all the work to keep this Little Free Library going. I was glad to help.
The Man and I and Jerico the dog took my New Mexico State Parks Pass and went camping at Bluewater Lake State Park between Gallup and Grants, New Mexico. We were staying in the Canyonside Campground near the trailhead for the Canyonside Trail.
As you may have guessed from the name of the campground and the trail, we were camped on the side of a canyon. Specifically, we were camped above the canyon, but trees and vegetation blocked the view of Bluewater Creek down below. It was easy to forget the land dropped dropped dropped right across from where the van was parked.
It was late September, late in the camping season, so we had the campground loop mostly to ourselves. Some folks in a popup camper were in the area when we arrived on Saturday, but they left late the next day. An elderly couple camped catacorner and across the road from the site we had chosen, but they moved to a spot with a shade cover in a different part of the park after a couple of days when the weather forecast called for rain.
Because the area was underpopulated, The Man felt comfortable throwing the ball for Jerico. He threw the ball away from other campers and kept it pretty close to home.
As I’ve written before, Jerico loves to play ball. He loves for us to pet him, he loves Rachael Ray dog food and any sort of yummy treat, but most of all, he loves to play ball. In the last year, it has become possible to throw the ball enough to wear Jerico out. After fifteen to twenty minutes of chasing and retrieving the ball (depending on the temperature outside) he has to lie down and rest, but in another fifteen or twenty minutes, he’s raring to chase and retrieve the ball again.
The Man has thrown the ball for Jerico for countless hours in the last seven or so years. He’s usually very careful to never throw the ball anywhere dangerous because Jerico doesn’t have the sense to stay away from danger. All Jerico cares about is the ball. Jerico focuses entirely on the ball. He doesn’t think about where the ball is going or the relative safety or danger of going after it. Once the ball is thrown, he simply takes off after it.
The Man is usually very careful about where he throws the ball, but this day something went wrong. Whether he was distracted and didn’t think about where he was aiming the ball or if the ball bounced and went off in the wrong direction, I don’t know. Suddenly I heard The Man yelling No! and Stay!
I’m sure you’ve guessed what happened. The ball went toward the canyon and Jerico was not going to hesitate to follow it. Luckily, The Man intervened in time and kept Jerico from blindly giving chase.
The Man put Jerico in the van and searched the area around the drop off in hopes of finding the ball stopped by a large rock or fallen tree branch. No such luck. The ball was gone. No doubt it had rolled and bounced its way down to the canyon floor.
Jerico was not happy about the loss of his ball. He looked at The Man expectantly and barked.
In the past, when the Man was done playing, he sometimes took the ball away from Jerico and put it out of his reach. I think that’s what Jerico thought had happened. He settled down after about ten minutes of barking and expectant looks. However, later in the day, he got more insistent inhis looks and barks. We knew the signs. He was ready to chase the ball again.
The Man usually travels with a supply of the blue racquetballs Jerico likes to chase. (Of course, Jerico will chase and retrieve any ball, but the racquetballs are light enough for him to bounce off his nose and catch in midair.) The Man looked all over the van and couldn’t find a single blue racquetball. He realized he’d left the extras in his van which we’d stored in a friend’s backyard over 300 miles away.
Jerico grew more insistent. He really wanted to play ball.
Look dude, The Man said to him, we’re not going 30 miles to Wal-Mart just to get balls.
Jerico obviously didn’t understand.
We had to keep a close eye on the dog. He kept trying to go near the drop off to sniff around. He’s part beagle, so I have no doubt he could have picked up its scent. We were still concerned he would jump off the cliff fof the ball with no concern for his safety.
By the next morning, Jerico was being a huge pain in the neck. He would look at us and bark, toss his head, and prance around. We knew what he wanted, but had not way of giving it to him. The barking just went on and on.
I guess we’re going to have to go to Wal-Mart, The Man grumbled.
We had some things to do at the public library in Grants, then The man and I had a lunch date at the local Pizza Hut. It was mid-afternoon by the time we arrived at Wal-Mart. We made a beeline to the sporting goods department, only to find there wasn’t a single racquetball to be found. There wasn’t even an empty space on the shelf where racquetballs should have been.
The Man said we’d have to get tennis ball, but we couldn’t find any of those either.
The Man went to the nearby toy department and asked for help, but the associate he brought back to sporting goods with him couldn’t find racquet or tennis balls either. She shrugged, said she was new, and wandered back to the boxes of toys she’d been unpacking.
Another worker we cornered said to look for tennis balls in the pet department. We found some there, which we purchased, but we wondered where the tennis and racquetball players of Grants get their balls.
Once back at our camp at the state park, The man pulled out one of the new especially-for-dog tennis balls out of the package and played a game of fetch with Jerico. You can bet he was super careful to throw the ball well away from the canyon.
It’s difficult to adequately capture the sculpture Two Horses in one photograph because the piece has many angles to explore. I’d taken one shot of it (the photo above) during my visit to downtown Mesa in the spring of 2016, but I never thought this photo was enough. During my exploration of a few blocks of downtown Mesa with Nolagirl in March of 2018, I was able to get a few more shots.
Two Horses was created by artist William Barnhart. According to Barnhart’s website, he received a BFA from Brigham Young University in 1984 and continued with graduate studies at Arizona State University in 1985. He is a resident of Mesa and has been a professional artist for over 30 years.
You can see more of William Barnhart’s sculptures on his webpage, which shows both sculptures in a pre-cast state and those that have been cast in bronze.
I love the texture of this piece, which begs to be touched. The plaque on the base of this piece explains how Barnhart made the horses look this way.
The sculpture’s unique surface was created by layering wet plaster over modeled forms of two horses, then allowing the plaster to run and drip. The effect is a texture with a random, organic appearance over a highly controlled form. Subsequent processes were used to transform the sculpture into its final bronze state.
As you might have guessed, this car is a tribute to the rock band Queen. The art was done by Rebecca Bass and her students at Reagan High School (now known as Heights High School ) in Houston, Texas. This high school is so cool, it has an art car club on its official list of activities available to students!
Rebecca Bass is famous in the Art Car community. She’s created about 30 art cars in her lifetime, almost all of them with kids.
Bass leads the art car club at Heights High School. She and her students were even in a movie! The 2011 documentary Art Car: The Movie follows Bass and her students as they prepare a car for the Houston Art Car Parade.
largest free public event [with] more than 250 rolling works of art …
I think it’s really cool that high school students did the majority of the work on this car. While I do like Queen, I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of the band. What I am a huge fan of is the meticulous embellishment work done on Bohemian Rhapsody. Wow! So much bling! I don’t think there’s one inch of space on this car that’s not covered in shine, sparkle, or flash. This is my kind of three-dimensional collage.
Bohemian Rhapsody seems to have found a permanent home with ArtoCade out of Trinidad, Coloroado. The ArtoCade website calls itself
a parade!…a festival!…a party!
ArtoCade also has an art car museum. The information was a bit unclear, but from what I could ascertain, the museum once known as the Bizarre Car Garage had to vacate its space prior to September 2018. It seems to have relocated and been rechristened as Art Cartopia. I think admission to Art Cartopia is free. That’s my favorite price! (The information I found about Art Cartopia was on ArtoCade’s Facebook page.)
If you’re ever anywhere near Trinidad (a small town just off Interstate 25 near the Colorado/New Mexico border), I suggest you stop at Art Cartopia and take a look at Bohemian Rhapsody. There are so many details to look at on this car! I could have stared at it for hours.