The plastic pink flamingo, once the ne plus ultra of tacky lawn decor, has indeed fallen on hard times. Witness the summerlong plight of Seattle artist Nicole Kistler, who needed a gaggle of the bogus birds for a public art installation at the campus of her alma mater, Arizona State University.
Wiitness the summerlong plight of Seattle artist Nicole Kistler, who needed a gaggle of the bogus birds for a public art installation at the campus of her alma mater, Arizona State University.
Turns out the company that makes them, Union Products, closed its Florida factory late last year. (Who knew that phony phoenicopteriformes could be too expensive to manufacture? Go figure.)
After some hunting online, Kistler, 34, tracked down the last 64 metal-legged flamingos manufactured; they had somehow ended up in the possession of a Seattle novelty retailer.
“So I bought them,” Kistler says.
Those, plus a bevy of imitation pelicans, boars and squirrels. And a large baby elephant, named Bessie, which Kistler let ride in the back of her pickup truck, to the amusement of her neighbors, before she had the counterfeit critters shipped to the East Valley in time for the art installation.
Called “Mighty Manimal March,” Kistler’s temporary exhibit finds her menagerie of lawn ornaments — penguins, reindeer and bears (oh my) among them, 160 strong — seemingly marching away from campus, on the lawn across from Tempe’s Gammage Auditorium at Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard.
The exhibit officially opens at 5:30 p.m. today.
It’s the second piece in a public art project called Shared Terrain, co-sponsored by the university and the city. (The first, “Grow Where You’re Planted,” by Tempe artist Chris Coleman, involved spiking 51,000 yellow and gold irrigation flags — representing the number of students on campus — into the same lawn last February.)
The idea of “Mighty Manimal March,” says Kistler, came from pondering the irony of those who use fake animals in their yards because, though they like seeing wildlife, they don’t like the damage real animals cause to gardens and flower beds.
Sloshing it all around in her creative brain, she ended up with rather hilarious questions: What if the faux fauna rebelled? “What if they saw a play at Gammage,” says Kistler, “or went to a class?”
Weather and vandalism permitting, the exhibit should stay up until December. After that, the ersatz animals will be available for adoption — with formal papers and everything — on a first-come, first-served basis. (Those who want to be notified in advance can shoot the artist an e-mail at email@example.com.)
Whether those adoptees end up on your front lawn or not, well, that’s between you and your homeowners association.
"Mighty Manimal March"
When: Opening 5:30 p.m. today; on view through December
Where: Northeast corner, Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard, Tempe
Information: (480) 965-6536 or herbergercollege.asu.edu/public_art