Farm Family Objects’

I was a grad student during my first large public work. It was designed for a commission won in 1991 to commemorate the 145th continuing year of the Farmer’s Market location at 5th  & Main Street, in Lafayette, IN. My sculpture sketch was selected and funded by the Friends of the Downtown (by community donations raised), to help revive & beautify the downtown. A selection committee quote: “We saw apples and oranges, but went bananas!” The three life-sized figures represent a farm family (man, woman and child) presenting their goods at our historic Farmer’s Market. With Roy’s welding expertise, area-farm knowledge, barn space and a flatbed wagon to lay my palette of figurative parts out on, I was eventually able to hold each piece perfectly in place for him to weld. For this design, I especially sought to create a public artwork that would be appreciated by farmers in appreciation of them, as well as my community-at-large. The sculpture’s double-entendre title sought to bring our community and nation’s slow demise of family farms to the forefront of our community’s consciousness. My own great grandparents first settled here as a farming family. Providing an educational source (when parts recognized from earlier times are identified or start stories by old-timers to a younger generation) can often be overheard at the sculpture, as I had hoped would be the case.  This sculpture has become a community favorite, often being dressed, holding signs, or decorated for various holidays (by unknown others or me). When new, I’d designed the sculpture with many hidden (but still movable) parts, a pun or two (‘green thumb’ gardening claw), and a healthful community warning (Shields are for Your Protection: Keep Them in Place) appropriately doing double-duty as the child’s shorts. Since this sculpture’s installation, the Farmer’s Market has continued to grow stronger and is flouring today.

– Indiana’s oldest farmer’s market – – in continuous operation since 1839 at the same location in downtown Lafayette.
– I knew Roy from country dancing in 70-80’s. By 90’s he’d welded small animals from 4-5 found objects. Has now retired to Charles St., Laf.
– To interested viewers, I sometimes share the little-known secret that ‘art lovers can make the child’s head turn’ when they pass by.

A story, with photo (by……) of Roy and I appeared in the Lafayette Leader while we were working on it won a photography prize. (date …?)
– Someone anonymously mailed me a clipping of a photo & blurb of my sculpture in the National Enquirer (undated, year …..?).
– Photo below by Dave Umbarger of how it looked in the early years, with pavers I placed to encourage movement & sound interactions with it.
– Changes: Street islands remodeled, trees & lights added, sign moved; In 2016, encroaching trees cut back & new lights, words in crosswalk. A few things have been bent (flowers), broken (‘Wheat’ & ‘Oat’ pockets), rusted crookedly (pie), or fallen off (horseshoe pocket on rump), etc.
– Personal references included: Roy’s beard; my bun. A photo by my sister Kathy shows Roy and I installing the sign (to not block sculptures).
– Listed on Wikipedia (was part of a national census to identify public sculptures in America)

RoadsideAmerica tip for Farm Family Sculpture: