Just outside the town of Mullinville we found a roadside display that stretched for a half mile. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of weird, silhouette people and animals with strange, curved necks, shoes and noses, each on its own individual pole set in the ground. There were also symbols and odd, inexplicable shapes. Found objects, such as green bottles, were worked into some pieces, but most appeared to have been cut out of sheet steel and painted with facial features and clothes. Rust stained many of the pieces suggesting they had been there for a while. There were hand-painted signs attached to each image, naming them “Fireman,” “Clown,” “Jay Hawk” and “Marilee.” Other signs stood alone without an image for a referent – “Sen. Joseph Biden,” “Sycophantic Plagiarist,” “Belle of the French Quarter,” and so on. There was a swastika with “Assholes” painted across one of the bars.
I slowed down and took in the display, looked around for Chuck and smiled when I caught his eye. I thought, We are in the presence of the Weird, my friend. This is what we came for. I did a U-turn and stopped in front of some of the most striking examples to take pictures.
We were admiring the work of M.T. Liggett – called “kinetic art” because it was intended to move in the wind. Some constructions were mounted on an axle and had vanes or cups clearly intended to catch the wind, but none of it was moving on that day and most of it looked too heavy to be moved by any but the strongest wind. Most of the pieces looked like they were not intended to move at all.
There was little use of depth – a nose might protrude from the front of a face, but for the most part the images were rendered in two dimensions. You could see a repeating style, especially in the curved lines. Some pieces might have been intended to make a statement, but it was often unclear. Was Liggett’s “Asshole” swastika meant to be critical of Nazis or did it express a Nazi affiliation? Did he like Joe Biden or hate him or was he simply proclaiming his existence? Did Marilee stride forward with head-down determination or was there more chance than choice in the ways her parts came together? And what, please, what was the story with Missy, all pink and splayed out, covered with heart shapes? Was she some sort of nightmare Valentine? And what is the story behind the scarlet “A?”
Months later I researched Myron T. Liggett and once again wished that I had taken the time to stop. His work is often intended to be a political statement, but Democrats and Republicans seem to be targeted equally. Hillary Clinton was labeled as “Our Jack-Booted Eva Braun,” but on the other hand, George W. Bush was depicted as a grinning head rising out of a toilet bowl. During the Bush administration Liggett was despised by Kansas Republicans. In his eyes, apparently every Emperor is naked and he intends to say so.
He has been quoted as saying that gay marriage and many other hot issues are simply “none of his business.” Regarding abortion rights he said, “If I come back in another life and I’ve grown breasts and a vagina then maybe I’ll have something to say about it. Until then, it’s none of my damn business.” Nazi Swastikas were used frequently because Liggett, a veteran of the Air Force, can think of no more insulting symbol to attach to a public figure. Local politicians seem to get the harshest treatment. One local judge was depicted as a prostitute. Apparently there have been attempts to shut him down and get the sculptures removed, but Mr. Liggett is within his rights and the only result was that the leaders of the attempt saw themselves caricatured as “Self Anointed Elitist Bourgeois.” M.T. Liggett, iconoclast, stands ever ready to piss people off.
From Mountain Ride 2012. Available from me, soon available from Amazon. If you enjoyed this reblog it.
Take a look at this velocette! Nice, uh? #caferacer #caferacers #caferacerclub #bcncaferacer #bikersofinstagram #moto #motorcycle #classic #love #vintage #velocette #amazing #awesome #picoftheday #photooftheday #iphone #instamotogallery #statigram #oldies #cool #legend #classy #cute #nice #follow4follow
The Moonbeam UFO - built for a cost of $25,000 and possibly the coolest roadside attraction on the Transcanada. #neontario (at Moonbeam, Ontario)
credit: Adam Hawks
BMW R90/6, Rougemont NC