Saturday, 30 July 2011

Indiana: Structures

On my way into Bloomington, and then again on my way to and from Yellowwood State Forest, I passed an incredible barn that I just had to go back and take a picture of. When I think of the Midwest, I think of red barns, and I absolutely love them. Since the barn of interest was on a fairly busy thoroughfare, I pulled over on a small country road nearby, and lo and behold, I discovered a second barn. Two for the price of one!

Now, I know that lots of people would look at this and say that it is just a dilapidated old piece of junk that should be torn down. I recognize that it is in serious disrepair, but for some reason that just makes me love these buildings even more.

One of the first good artistic photographs I ever took was of an old barn that was about to be torn down. I printed up the photo in black and white, and ever since then I have always looked out for other black-and-white-able barns to add to my collection.

This one had a strange serious of faux birdhouses along the side. They had little roofs and painted-on holes and real perches, but they didn't actually lead anywhere. Weird.

The barn I had initially set out to photograph was this one:

Too bad I couldn't get an angle without the telephone/electric wires in the way, but you can still see what good shape it was in; the red paint could have been applied just yesterday. I love it when people decorate their barns with rustic details like the two flags and the "Hoosiers" sign above the door here; during my trip to Bloomington, I also passed a couple barns with quilt patterns.

Back in town, I continued my structure-oriented photo spree with a trip to the local library, in front of which is a stone polar bear family consisting of Sunny (the dad), Luna (the mom), and Snowdrop (the cub). These were created out of Indiana limestone by local artist Karl Schiefer and donated by the Friends of the Libary in 1997. This means they were in town at the time of my last visit there, but for some reason I don't remember seeing them. I love how they so accurately mimic the style of Native American sculptures. In fact, Schiefer could actually be Native American, for all I know, but unfortunately I cannot find out anything about him online.

(Note the addition two local lovers have made to Sunny's shoulder.)

When I stepped inside a mall for lunch, imagine my surprise at finding a little piece of Britain right in downtown Bloomington, Indiana:

Before leaving town, I had to stop to take one last picture--a real sign of the times (or, in fact, lack thereof):

The next stop on my Midwestern tour was Madison, Indiana. One of the first things I saw when I arrived in town was this, sitting outside a chiropractor's office:

I understand what bones have to do with chiropractics, but I don't quite get the connection between the pig and the practice. And why is Hambone wearing a mask--is he a criminal? A superhero?

After dinner, I took a walk along the river and got a spectacular sunset view of the Lanier Mansion:

The mansion was designed by Francis Costigan and built in 1844 for the wealthy banker James Lanier, who only lived in the home for 7 years. It was donated to the Jefferson County Historical Society in 1917, then turned over to the state in 1925. Since that time it has been open to the public. If I recall my previous tour correctly, quite a bit of research went in to determining the original color of the mansion so that it could be repainted as accurately as possible. It appears that the eastern portion is currently under some additional renovations as I write. However, even a wall full of scaffolding doesn't diminish the beauty of this Greek Revival structure.

My last stop for the day was Jefferson Proving Grounds, a former military base that is now home to the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. The 56,000-acre facility still has unexploded ordnance hiding amidst the trees, which is why it is predominantly off-limits to the public. This provides the local wildlife with quite a lot of space to roam without too many worries, though fishermen are allowed to come in and use the pond. When I worked there in the summer of 2001, I saw coyotes for the very first time. There was still a security guard at the gate back then, but when I stopped by tonight the gatehouse was boarded up. For the first time, I noticed this sign out front:

It must have been there when I worked on the base 10 years ago, but I don't remember it at all--strange, given all the other things I remember so clearly. Between the Bloomington polar bears and the JPG commemoration sign, I am really starting to doubt my memory about my time in Indiana. This is particularly weird because (I think) I have very intense, detailed memories about my time here.

One thing I'm pretty sure of is that my hotel for the evening wasn't even built when I was here in 2001. It certainly seems pretty new. Either way, I have quite an impressive suite with yet another king-sized bed (why do I only ever get these when I am sleeping alone and have no need of all that space?). Even better than the bed is the en suite jacuzzi:

As I told the hostess at the front desk, I do know how to treat myself well.

1 comment:

  1. "Hambone" is one of the many concrete hogs that businesses in Madison may "adopt" to sponsor our annual festival Ribberfest,a blues and bbq event held along the riverfront each year since 2002.

    The pigs are delivered to the businesses/individuals that rent them and are then decorated by said entities. The pigs may be decorated in any way,but generally are intended to reflect the business they are outside of. Hambone is one of the older pigs,he was painted at least in 2003 - 2004 and has been touched up once or twice since then. He's dressed,I believe,to infer that he's part of a masquerade ball (besides the obvious fact that he's outside of a chiropractor's office.