Oregon Cultural Trust

The humble lawn ornament

Open Air Museum, Part 3: Still hesitant about entering a museum or gallery? Welcome to this statuesque exhibition-about-town.

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“Buddha,” 2023. Lawn ornament.


STORY and PHOTOGRAPHS by K.B. DIXON


While the Portland Art Museum and our local galleries have returned to a sort of pre-Covid normalcy, their attendance has not—not yet. It’s understandable. These remain peculiar, variant-addled times. For the trepidatious aestheticians out there who still prefer the contagion-free confines of their car, I am adding a brief addendum to my previous photo essays on the open-air museum that is Portland’s street art (An Open Air Museum, An Open Air Museum, Part 2) with this brief consideration of the humble lawn ornament.

Most such ornaments are admittedly maudlin mediocrities, but occasionally you will run across one that time, neglect, and nature have worked their magic on—one that has been transformed, turned from a trite, sentiment-soaked tchotchke into a quasi-surreal object of aesthetic interest.

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Oregon Cultural Trust

Teapot & Boy, 2023

Duck, 2023

Tulip, 2023

Cherubs, 2023

Boy & Turtle, 2023

Geese, 2023

Frog, 2023

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Photo Joe Cantrell

K.B. Dixon’s work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals. His most recent collection of stories, Artifacts: Irregular Stories (Small, Medium, and Large), was published in Summer 2022. The recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship Award, he is the winner of both the Next Generation Indie Book Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. He is the author of seven novels: The Sum of His SyndromesAndrew (A to Z)A Painter’s LifeThe Ingram InterviewThe Photo AlbumNovel Ideas, and Notes as well as the essay collection Too True, Essays on Photography, and the short story collection, My Desk and I. Examples of his photographic work may be found in private collections, juried exhibitions, online galleries, and at K.B. Dixon Images.

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