This is Porter Sculpture Park, a roadside attraction in South Dakota, just off Interstate 90 about 20 minutes west of Sioux Falls.
To get into the park we first had to travel about a mile and a half on a rough dirt road, over a cattle-guard that was almost too much for a compact car, and past the sentry on the road outside the park.
Wayne Porter is the proprietor of the Porter Sculpture Park, and he came running (literally) from his camper on the site to open the gate for us when we arrived. Adult admission was eight dollars, and I offered him a twenty for myself and Terry but he waved me off as he sat down in a lawn chair.
“Make your own change in the box, there,” he said.
We talked about his art and traded postcards before we headed off to shoot the park, and found out Wayne has a huge horse sculpture that he is working on which he intends to finish and relocate to the park one day. He showed us a photo of it and it is huge.
I asked him “How are you gonna get it here?” but he must get that question a lot because I hadn’t even finished asking it when he said, “I have no idea.”
Wayne is an animated, eccentric character and it shows in his art. It’s outsider art made from metal mostly — sheet metal and angle iron, old car parts, hardware, just about anything that can be welded — and the themes range from whimsical to borderline frightening.
Barring the arrival of the planned horse sculpture, this bull is the most massive piece in the park, over sixty feet tall.
When we arrived, Wayne warned us about a bat colony that was living inside the bull’s head. We didn’t know that he was really setting us up for a scare when we entered and looked up for the bats. I nearly peed my pants when I walked in and looked up.
That’s a lifesize humanoid that hangs above just as you enter. Wayne’s art is infused with a gleeful love of scaring people.
There are undoubtedly straight-laced visitors who see a roadside collection of disturbing junk folk-art, but Terry and I both agreed that Wayne’s art speaks on a deeper level as well.
These fish reminded me of Tim Burton movies and Dr. Seuss books.
Wayne’s vision extends to poetry which he has hand-painted on signs around the park. These little bits of poetry offer explanations of some of the sculptures, and a glimpse into his mind.
This sculpture to me looked like a still-frame from a Brothers Quay animation.
This shot Terry captured looks like God dropped his hammer and it fell through the blue hole in the clouds and landed right here.
As we were leaving Wayne commented that the season was over and the park would soon be a ghost town for the fall and winter, but we would encourage you to stop for a visit if you find yourself in this part of South Dakota in warm weather. The park is really close to the Interstate and Wayne has some souvenirs you can buy as well.
See more of the park.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2014 Sonic Tremor Media