Whimsy Transforms Junk into Fantastical Sculptures on Florence Avenue Art Walk

Discarded headlamps. Unused castors. Spare sheet metal. Stray tools. The medium is culled from dark barns and dusty flea markets. The whimsy and talent to transform junk into art resides in Sebastopol, CA. Florence Avenue is the gallery.

Who knew?

Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent are the talent behind the installations. They pay homage to Godzilla and Batman; campsites and diners; surfing dogs, mermaids and skeletal bikers. Even the Oakland A’s. “Jointly conceived,” their web site explains, “Patrick sculpts and Brigitte paints.” Joy ensues.

We made our most recent trek down Florence Avenue while up in Sonoma County tending to the grandsons — Thing 1 and Thing 2 — for the day. It seemed like the perfect outing between the baby’s naps and just crazy enough to hold the 3-year-old’s attention. And we wanted to see what might be new!

20170829 - sebastopol art-IMG_9868The sculptures are installed in front yards up and down the three city blocks that make up the Florence Avenue Art Walk, just west of downtown Sebastopol. You can spend as much time as you want at each, admiring at a glance or dissecting the origin of each limb, cap or piece of machinery.

So, which sculptures do we like best?

If you ask him (and we did), Thing 1 will tell you he likes all of the sculptures. But “The Zucchini Brothers” — a trio of jugglers with wonky eyes and garbage can torsos, each perched atop the shoulders of another — drew a spontaneous finger-point and shout-out as we stepped from the car and began our walk.

MontaraManDan is partial to the anthromorphic train, which looks like a mad Casey Jones became one with his engine. M-Man also kinda liked a new installation featuring he bluebirds of happiness.

The Geek, who before her slacking days dreamed of escaping the C Suite on a Harley, is entranced by the skeletal biker. It must be something in the dark mysterious eyes behind the hockey mask.

Thing 2? Well, he’s still too young to verbalize an opinion, but he seemed content with the walk, sucking thoughtfully on his pacifier. No squawks. A good sign.

If you’re done with Florence Street and want more, then drive around town and see how many of the scores of installations at businesses and public places you can find. Or, if you’re traveling with a 3-year-old, you can stop for a treat at any of a number ice cream parlors or diners scattered around town.

20170829 - sebastopol art-IMG_9836We stopped at D’s Diner, where MontaraManDan and the Geek could split a tri-tip sandwich while Thing 1 enjoyed a dish of vanilla. Thing 2 enthusiastically devoured baby yogurt drops that his mother had thoughtfully packed in his diaper bag. Delightful.

Some days, babysitting the grandkids can feel a bit like a day in the life of the acrobatic Zucchini Brothers, plus one. But our trip to Florence Avenue was a winner on this sunny late summer’s day, ranking a close second among grandson outings to our recent picnic in Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve.

And for our next trick …

“Who Knew?” is an occasional feature of www.CoastsideSlacking.com that spotlights roadside wonders and oddities that might be worth a gawk if you’re in the neighborhood.

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