I asked a few folks in the know to share with me their tops of the charts when it comes to folk art environments.

“Top Ten U.S. Environments”

from “Narrow” Larry Harris (in no particular order:)

  •  The Watts Towers – because they’re The Watts Towers !!
  • The Orange Show – the first environment I ever visited, one of the most architecturally
    sophisticated of visionary environments.
    The O Show got me started on this life of pilgrimages to Fresno, Dickeyville, and Buena Vista.
  • The Garden of Eden – the granddaddy of US environments,
    all rolled up into one handy biblical-political-historical concrete masterpiece.
  • Salvation Mountain – for salvation, the Mountain works better than any
    TV preacher who was ever broadcast.
  • Margaret’s Grocery – because All is Welcome Here at Margaret’s Gro. & Mkt.
  • Kenny Hill’s Chauvin Sculpture Garden – and whatever new creation that Kenny is now building in Arkansas.
  • The Forevertron – the greatest folk art environment of the Industrial Revolution
  • The Land of Pasaquan – ghosts and magic in the South – what could be better?
  • The Underground Gardens – because photos can’t capture it.
  • Vollis Simson Whirligigs- Lucama, NC

A tie for Number Eleven:

  • Wisconsin Concrete Park
  • The Temple of Tolerance
  • The African-American Heritage Museum
  • Grotto of the Redemption
  • The Rudolph Grotto

Favorite individual (non-environmental) artists:
OK, OK, just off the top of my head, and in no order, I’d start with:
Achilles Rizzoli, C.A.A. Dellschau, Thornton Dial, Martin Ramirez, Rev. McKendree Robbins Long,
William Edmondson, Mark Anthony Mulligan, Eugene von Bruenchenhein, and I’ll keep thinking.

“Top Ten U.S. Environments”

from Ted Oliver, Oliver’s Southern Folk Art

  • Vollis Simson Whirligigs- Lucama, NC
  • Clyde Jones Environment- Bynum, NC
  • Howard Finster Paradise Gardens- Summerville GA
  • Watts Towers, Watts, CA
  • Ave Maria Grotto- Cullman AL
  • Rice Cross Garden- Prattville, AL
  • The Garden of Eden- Lucas Kansas
  • Kenny Hill’s Sculpture Garden- Chauvin, LA
  • Pasuquan- Buena Vista, GA
  • Louis Lee’s Rock Garden- Phoenix, Arizona

“Top Ten U.S. Environments”

from Kelly Ludwig, Detour Art

  • * Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain – “God is Love” and so is Leonard.
  • S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden – The oldest visionary site in America
  • Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park – “You have to be almost gifted to do what I do.”  Gifted he was.
  • Margaret’s Grocery – Rev. Dennis and Margaret spread the good word.
  • Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron – “Power on”
  • Kenny Hill’s Garden of Salvation – Most impressive site on rental property.
  • MT Liggett’s Sign Field – Miles of welded commentary
  • Father Dobberstein’s Grotto of the Redemption – The granddaddy of all grottos.
  • Simon Rodia’s Watt’s Towers – Breathtaking
  • Vollis Simpson’s Windmills – (still on the list to see)

“Super 8 – sites that I honestly believe NOBODY can visit and not say whoo!”

from Randy Mason, Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations

  • Garden of Eden
  • Bishop Castle
  • Forevertron
  • Grotto of Redemption
  • Vollis Simpson’s Windmill Park
  • Salvation Mountain
  • Pasaquan
  • Fred Smith’s Concrete Park