Sunday, July 24, 2011

Got Kitsch?

Yard Ornaments, Augusta, Georgia  © Doug Hickok

For those wonderful people who visit my blog routinely, you probably know that at times I have a fondness for the odd and quirky. So it is not surprising that I find kitschy stuff fun to photograph, wherever I can find it. On our recent road trip, we found an abundance of kitschiness, especially in the South. The place pictured above sells yard ornaments, but Jesus and hubcaps displayed together is somehow so ridiculous that it defies explanation. Not to mention throwing in Botticelli's Venus, seahorses, a few totems, a gargoyle, and the Georgia Bulldog. Who thinks of this stuff?

Anyway, I am wondering if you have any place odd or quirky near where you live? Or, is kitsch mostly a regional American phenomenon? If you've ever been to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, you'll know what I mean. While driving through these two mega-kitschy tourist traps, we witnessed a giant sinking Titanic, an upside down southern mansion, the Lumberjack Feud dinner & show, dinosaur putt-putt golf, and the list goes on and on... I mean really, who thinks of this stuff?

So tell me, if you please, about your odd or quirky places.


  1. Now JC and carpentry tools or wooden carvings would make perfect sense, but JC and hub caps.. that is left field! A great find.

    A place in BC, Canada where my clan lives has a farm shop out in the middle of nowhere where you can buy fresh produce and all sorts of other things, with a rustic structure, a grassed roof and goats grazing on that roof..... that always seems quite surreal to me, In the UK, on the main train line into busy Charring cross, there is a car scrap yard that has a white fur lined coffin converted into an open top hotrod with wheels and bonnet bulge, high up on a platform to advertise the yard! Weird and wonderful.

    Neat frame, Doug, a great way to begin my Sunday morning.

  2. a very good B & W picture with nice light.

    wish you a nice sunday Doug.

    Greetings, Joop

  3. I'm always amazed when I see forests of garden gnomes. Or statues like these...

    The photo works really well in black and white though. Happy Sunday!

  4. Dear Doug,
    You are a very talented photographer and I'm always enchanted, dreaming and traveling with your posts and themes so well chosen.This picture is a fine artwork, I like the sculptures and I like the composition!
    Hugs and thanks for sharing your pictures!

  5. I think we've got a place here on Hwy 40 that can beat this one. I've posted a few pictures of it awhile back. But Georgia is noted for kitsch, so it's probably a toss-up!

    We just came back from Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg...our first time. What a huge disappointment they were! I'll be posting a few photos from that trip on our Images blog.

  6. a very clever documentary, doug, but no - you americans are not the only ones fond of kitsch! actually, kitsch is a german word, so we, too, know plenty about it! after all, garden gnomes are very popular here, as are windmills and waterfalls and toadstool in the garden!
    (as to gatlinburg - i was there in fall, and i was expecting awful things after reading about the place, but we were very pleasantly surprised by the place, particularly by the "smoky mountain brewery"! cheers! ;-))

  7. Hub caps and Jesus. What a combo! Great find.

  8. and that's definitely on the kitschy side. I wonder how much of that they sell.

  9. "Kitschy" is a new word for me, but I think I understand. We have a bit of it around these parts, some even at our place I dare say!

  10. reminds of the road side shop were they make statues using clay n cement

  11. There's something really fun about this 'kitchy' image - as if he's preaching to the crowd of statues!

  12. Hello doug. This is an superb shot!

  13. That is a wonderful picture, like a 'graveyard for statues', maybe not polite to say.
    I love those lumberjack parties, sometimes we have these on TV, like the World Championships doing all kinds of lumber-jacking.
    Fascinating to find a challange in one's job.

  14. Kitsch is an interesting international phenomenon. I know, since I had a discussion on the subject with some Brits the other day. Mass production and/or tasteless are aspects of kitsch. There are more along the same lines. Certainly this yard complies as a staging post for kitsch.
    The types of kitsch known to me; is the 3 flying ducks against a wall, a pair of hands in prayer also against the wall, a Tretchikoff print, garden gnomes and such.
    As a result of the discussion mentioned, it came to my attention that there is now a thriving market in second hand kitsch dating from the 1950's and 1960's.
    Ever since the Industrial Revolution, there was a steadily growing middle class. People who could buy a house, but not yet the grand paintings and statues to adorn said house and garden. Someone saw the empty walls as a market and started producing prints and plaster statues :-)
    By the way - The ascent is a great picture.

  15. Ha! Hubcaps?
    Well, they look close enough to haloes! :^)
    Yes, we do something like this is London.
    There's called Architectural Rescue in Camberwell.
    If you do a Google Image or Flickr search, you'll see why. :)

  16. A great capture, Doug, and a reminder for me to be on the lookout for that kind of thing! Back in Australia, we have the Big Pineapple, Big Banana, etc, -- and, Larry the Giant Lobster. These are all huge tourist attractions!

  17. I'm back to say that that Lumberjack Feud song is a riot! (At least it's not the Monty Python, "I'm a Lumberjack" song...)

  18. You know that's a great question. There are so many things but one pops immediately to mind. Someone has constructed a large metal giraffe that peeks over the hill at drivers on interstate 15 not far from my home. I'll have to think about this further though--there are so many oddities as you head toward the desert. As usual a great, though-provoking post Doug!

  19. One of the oddest, but most welcome quirkenomena's here in Ireland is the combined funeral home and bar/pub. Especially for the old men who probably spent most of their time in there. Waiting....for the pub to open!

  20. this sure is a find.. :) well done.. :)


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