2021 Outdoor Art Project

All images and artwork ©2021 Kevin Pittman, all rights reserved

Over the winter of 2021, I devoted myself to an outdoor art project, the concept for which came to me while on a week-long getaway to a cabin at Unicoi State Park. Inspired by an animal figure I saw in the park and by thoughts of how people seem to embrace certain values between Thanksgiving and Christmas, only to put them away with their holiday decorations until the next year, I envisioned a display that would have a positive, powerful message.

A faux simple bench with four carved wooden rabbits and a fox, each holding signs.  The right end of the bench has a shepherd's crook with an opossum hanging off of it, holding the last sign.  The message is given in the visible caption for this photo.

Peace, Joy, Love, Hope : Please Try To Remember They're Not Just For December : Let Them Abound All The Year Round!

This display now sits in my front yard about eight feet from the street, greeting those who walk, bike, or drive by. To give perspective, the bench is six feet wide, the rabbits standing about two feet tall.

The project took every bit of the winter to develop, from designing the individual characters to scroll cutting sheets of plywood and assembly, followed by many hours of painting (and waiting for paint to dry between layers). It culminated in a struggle to letter the six signs and get them attached to the characters securely. The morning after I put the characters out, I found several blown over by the wind, leading me to spend another hour bolting them down to the bench. In hindsight, I should have figured on this, but throughout the build I as a little too focused on ensuring the characters would hold up to rain and never thought about wind.

(Two weeks later, 20+MPH winds blew the entire bench over - twice. As can be seen in these updated pictures, taken after I relettered the fox and possum signs, I've now had to add large stone blocks behind each end of the bench to support it better in high winds.)

I lost count of the trips to the local hardware store and the local arts and crafts store (and I'd rather not admit to how much all the supplies cost), but I'd estimate that I probably put 200+ hours into the whole project. That included landscaping the area where the characters sit and building the bench for them, too. I can understand now why so many great artists go insane eventually :-)

The rabbit and fox patterns are unique to this project, but the opossum (shown below) is heavily based on my puppet character, Poe Possum. A pleasant side effect of the design is that the opossum will sway slightly in the wind, making him feel a little more natural than I had expected.