Category:
Outsider Art

Winter Zero’s Musical Bottle Farm

From the 1930s to the 1950s, one of the most popular oddities to visit in Ohio was Winter Zero Swartsel's "Bottle Farm" located outside of Farmersville. (He said he got his name because he was born on a "hard, cold winter day.") Here's a description of it from the historical marker now at the site:

While chiding the American people for their wastefulness and abusing their environment, his 22 acres of farmland became his artist's canvas filled with the thousands of items he collected from the “wasteful.” Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel's farm property became a field of glass as he adorned it with sculptures and “art” using glassware of all kinds, bells, bed frames, wood, and other discarded items. His finest works, fashioned from bottles titled “Kindly Light” and “Full Measure” created the popular Farmersville Bottle Farm. The farm also provided interesting listening experiences. In addition to the bells and twinkling glass that rang out in the wind, residents in town could count on hearing “The Old Rugged Cross” played on loud speakers on Sundays. Bells on grazing sheep added to the “noises” he described as restful. The farm attracted visitors from every state in the nation except Delaware.

Curious that there were no visitors from Delaware.

Photo by Edward Weston



Photo by Edward Weston



Here's another description of the Bottle Farm from "Joe" on Angelfire:

I grew up in the 1950's in a little town called Farmersville (population about 1000) in southwestern Montgomery County, Ohio. We lived on the western edge of town and about a mile out of town on that same road there existed a most peculiar farm called The Bottle Farm. Whenever we drove by, the most striking feature of this odd farm was that the fields bristled with poles driven into the ground at rather random locations. Each vertical pole had a series of glass bottles affixed to it at an angle to the pole, rather like very productive corn stalks with glass ears of corn and no leaves. Many of the glass bottles were of colored glass and it all glittered in the sunlight.

Scattered across the fields were heavy wooden structures that supported old church bells. To each bell's clapper was loosely wired an irregularly cut piece of tin painted flat black. Each piece of tin had some Indian words or a short phrase or saying scrawled across it in white paint. Whenever the wind blew, the pieces of tin would dance in the breeze and cause the clappers to clang the bells.

Dayton Daily News - Aug 18, 1954



Pittsburgh Press - Jun 12, 1938



News reports indicate that Swartsel wasn't on the best of terms with the surrounding community. He had a habit of shooting at teenagers whom, he claimed, were trespassing on his property.

When he died in 1953 the city tried to preserve the Bottle Farm as a tourist attraction but gave up after two years and auctioned everything off. Today the historical marker is the only reminder of the Farm's existence at the location.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 22, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Eccentrics, Outsider Art

Unauthorized Dwellings 16



If you walked down Mitte’s Oranienburger Straße at any point between 1990 and 2012, you would have likely noticed a commanding, if dishevelled, structure located just a short distance from the synagogue. Up until five years ago, the second-most visited art attraction in Berlin wasn’t the East Side Gallery or Museum Island, it was this five-storey building: aka Kunsthaus Tacheles. Taken over by artists after the Wall fell in 1990, the building was transformed into a creative commune. It was quintessential post-Wende Berlin: upon their occupancy, the artists launched a legal battle for the property and rescued it from demolition, maintaining a presence for 22 years.


Full essay here.


The Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Apr 19, 2021 - Comments ()
Category: Antisocial Activities, Art, Outsider Art, Unauthorized Dwellings, 1900s, 2000s, 2010s, Europe

The Umbrellaship



The creator's website.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jan 15, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Eccentrics, Outsider Art, Transportation

Dickens 44 Bascom, Glue Artist

Dickens 44 Bascom is a "glue artist" or "gluer" who rose to prominence in the 1960s. One of his most famous pieces was a 1961 Ford Falcon to which he glued just about everything you could imagine: a typewriter, toilet seat, toys, Donald Duck, and other "relics of our civilization". It was one of the first cars ever decorated in this fashion (perhaps the first). He used to earn money by parking it on a busy street and collecting donations from passersby.

Later he hatched a dream of building an entire castle from glued-together stuff. But, as far as I know, his castle project never came to fruition.





Pittsburgh Press - Mar 3, 1974



According to the Marin Independent Journal, Bascomb left the US in 1981 and lived abroad for almost four decades, in a kind of self-imposed exile, before returning a few years ago. As of 2018, he was living in a motel in San Rafael.

His middle name, "44", was given to him by his father because he was born 44 minutes after 4 am on the 44th day of 1944. (I'm sensing a recurring theme of artists with numbers for middle names, since we recently posted about Nancy 3. Hoffman who operates the Umbrella Cover Museum in Maine).

More info: Dickens44.com

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 03, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Outsider Art, Cars

S. P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden

The oldest surviving outsider art installation in the USA.

Home page.

Creator's Wikipedia entry.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Aug 16, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Outsider Art, Statues and Monuments, Regionalism, 1900s

Las Pozas

When travel resumes, here's a destination alluring to any WU-vie.



Read more on the creator here.

His Wikipedia entry.

Posted By: Paul - Thu May 21, 2020 - Comments ()
Category: Art, Outsider Art, Surrealism, Eccentrics, Twentieth Century

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