There’s lots of interesting yard art to be seen around Lakewood: from fine statuary at Lakewold Garden and St. John Bosco’s Meditation Garden, to Swan’s Candles on Gravelly Lake Drive, or the antique reproductions collection of famous statues in the yard just off Ardmore. There’s a different kind of roadside attraction, though, along Old Military Road.
Trinkets, baubles, collectibles, conversation pieces, whatsits, trifles, tschotkes, call ‘em what you will—they’re intriguing, charming and colorful. Especially the eye-catching assortment of small figurines, and statues that populate the yard of Irene and Carlo Sallinger’s home on Old Military Road, just a short distance east from the 112th and the Old Military Road intersection.
The collection, explains Irene, has been expanding for the past seven years. She speculates that there are more than 200 pieces displayed on the now-bone-dry lawn, pieces that include angels, storybook characters, folk-art pieces and more, but no red-capped gnomes. Few pieces are taller than a foot. Sadly, high winds have damaged some pieces, and there has been some theft of others from the fenced yard.
Lots of people stop to ask about the collection, Irene continues. The couple’s outdoor art gallery began as a therapeutic project for Carlo in 2008 while he recuperated from chemotherapy for throat cancer. Carlo, says Irene, has worked at JBLM’s Motor Pool for the past 35 years.
Searching for yard art, she says, was something he started to occupy his time. Carlo and his brother-in-law decided one day that they’d go yard sale-ing around the county. That was the start. Every time Carlo went out, he found something to add to the yard.
The first piece he bought? A rust brown owl perched on the roof, head turned toward the road. These pieces aren’t expensive. Irene continues, “Many of them come from the Dollar Store.”
Her husband buys what he likes. He buys them rather than lottery tickets or pull tabs. Usually there’s something different every month. She likes them all. “I’d rather have them instead of flowers. The yard art search became his stress relief,” she says.
At present the inventory includes Orientals (Asian-themed art), regional figurines such as pint-sized members of a lively black jazz band, frogs, elephants, raccoons, copies of well-known art works such as the replica of Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy”.
“Pinkie” broke, Irene says.
Propped against a backyard fence post is a cheerful Raggedy Anne. A grinning Cheshire Cat hunkers down amid greenery along the porch fence top. There also are fountains, birdbaths, and a multitude of miniature figures bordering the fence line, including a realistic-looking raccoon inside the raccoon trap. Other pieces stand atop pedestals, and a few pieces are in the trees.
Don’t miss the four-faced railroad depot clock that’s the front yard centerpiece. “It used to keep time, but the battery wore out.”
There’s more inside, such an ornate oriental wagon, pulled by a ferocious-looking Dragon dog. Of course, there’s upkeep involved. Besides dusting the indoor pieces, when the paint wears off the outside figures, about every six months to a year, the Sallingers touch up their collection.
While the main collection stays out year ‘round; the inventory expands during the holiday season,especially at Hallowe’en and Christmas. If the yard art isn’t enough Irene has a melodic assortment of wind chimes hanging from the eaves all around the house. Next time you’re driving past, stop for a closer look.
Note: yard art has been “in style” since the days of the Egyptians. The Internet lists 14,600,000 related yard art sites.