Making Your Own Modern Art for the Garden

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garden sculpturemodern garden artWe have a host of museums in Houston with modern art, and a trip to the de Menil collection inspired me to create a piece for the garden.

My wife thought that we were going to the Center for Contemporary Craft, which is a favorite, but I thought going to see the chapels and museums associated with the de Menil Collection would be nice. Walking in that neighborhood is fun. The sun is shaded by the trees, and I do like to see the gardens. I wanted to have a picnic in the park, but we went to visit a friend  for a late afternoon meal. If you are interested in a calm, modern garden design, take a moment to pay attention to the garden spaces around the Byzantine and Rothko chapels. Great places to sit and meditate. I also like the ground sculpture piece in front of the de Menil. This was all good; however, I was inspired by a sculpture that I had already seen inside the building (I also like how the buildings are made).

Slap scraps together and call it modern? I accept that modern art is not everyone’s cup of tea. There are pieces that I am not sure about. I do like going to delve into paintings and sculptures that I have seen previously, because I find a new aspect with each viewing. Although I have made a few pieces for inside the house, I am working more on pieces for the garden. The sculptures made from objects that I can find around my home are common in modern art collections, so I am thinking about what I could do. Slapping items together does not quite work, and I do have to please the wife (my toughest critic).

The morning after going to the museum, my girls and I headed out to the shed. I pulled out a bucket of scrap wood, a bag of old door hardware, and wheels for a chair. I drilled holes to hold door knobs and wheels, and nailed other items onto an old four by four fence post. Working with a four and one year old is not always easy, but they are so happy to be involved. Since one face of the post was always going to face towards the fence, so we concentrated on three faces of the post. I wanted the wheels on the piece, so the kids could spin them. I was directing how we positioned our found objects to allow discovery. Once we emptied the bucket, we had another step to complete. Actually a favorite step for the girls: painting. I found a can of old paint. It was a light yellow once, but it looked more white to me now. We went over the post, attempting to cover every item and the post with this one color.  A piece of rebar was affixed into the bottom of the post, which was driven into the ground with a cement base. Paint was splashed over the cement.  

Will this sculpture last? Well, if it does begin to break apart, we could either repair it or throw it out. For me, this piece is of more interest than having a copy of a classical sculpture, which are easy to find.  The project turned out to be good family time, which we worked on during the course of the day. So will other people like it? Maybe, but the family likes it, so we are good. I am going to spend more time on the next work. I refer to one section of my garden as the “Tiergarten”. This is the German word for zoo; it translates directly into English a “animal garden”. I want a few more animals for this area.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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