Friday, April 13, 2012

Field Trip: The Bowling Ball House / Whimzey Twinz in Safety Harbor, FL

Hi all! This post is one of my all time favorites. As you may be aware, my husband and I travel around the United States visiting self-taught artists. A few weeks ago, we visited the home of Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda, who live in Safety Harbor, Florida.

The house of "whimzey"!

As a child, I vaguely remember reading something about Todd and Kiaralinda in a book. Since then, I have wanted to visit this Mecca of self-taught art. I was also granted the honor of interviewing the two as a research project for my thesis, which is developing a children's book about the two. I will share tidbits of what I gathered in this post.

Artist Kiaralinda

Artist Todd Ramquist

Todd and Kiaralinda met as neighbors when they were young teenagers. Kiaralinda remembers having painted a rainbow on her wall at this age, one of her earliest memories about making art. Todd and Kiaralinda always hung out with the same crowd of people, but it wasn't until they were older teenagers that they begun dating. Since then, they have spent almost 3 decades transforming their Safety Harbor home into a work of art. The experience of physically being there is enlightening. Let me share...

Beautiful flowers decorated by members of the community

~The Outside of the House~

When you pull into their mini parking area, the first thing that catches your eye are the beautiful upcycled water bottle flowers from a recent community art project. Beyond that are two giant tikis, welcoming you into the magical gardens of Todd and Kiaralinda.

Past the tikis begins the mosaic, a large and colorful assemblage of tiles, swerving and curling every which way. They have a kiln on site, so many of the tiles they decorate themselves, fire, and then apply and grout. Over the years, many people have donated items to the artists. A large chain home improvement store donates many unused and excess tiles to the artists, making it easy to keep on making art!

The house number in the mosaic on the ground

One of the best things about these artists is that they are so friendly and open to having strangers come into their home. In fact, they host many parties and have recently built a stage in their outdoor living room. They love to tell visitors that they even had a visit from Jeff Daniels!

Another view of the mosaic and a view of the gazebo, aka the outdoor living room!

The mosaic ground led up to their home...

More of the ground mosaic

Kiaralinda loves to write quotes and add them into the art!
An upcycled bicycle wheel, which spins when the wind catches it just right

Someone should seriously make a scavenger hunt sheet for when children visit the home. There are so many things to see that it would be fun to look for all sorts of goodies!

An old McDonald's playground toy welcomes visitors past the tikis

A close up of a painted sun!

A mobile of flowers hanging off of a tree in the yard

A bottle tree

A child who lived in the house before Todd and Kiaralinda poked holes into a palm tree in front of the house using a screwdriver. Years later, he visited the now decorated home (much to his delight) and told them the story!
The side of their home

The corner of their home

A junk lamb that was made 20 years ago!

A Christmas tree made of green plastic bottles!

The corner of their home

Some beautiful flowers made of recycled materials

A sun on the chimney greets guests as they arrive

The infamous bowling ball stack

~Inside the Casa de Whimzey~

A poor photo (sorry!) of their dip bowl collection in the living room
The living room ceiling- all of these works were purchased directly from the artists!
The ceiling of the sitting area in the living room has Cooties and vintage lunch boxes to look at!
The kitchen is crammed with eye candy!
Oh, you know, just an original Howard Finster in the hallway. No biggie.
The living room, a work of art in and of itself
Another view of the living room
~The Gallery~

Todd and Kiaralinda have published a book about their bowling ball collection, titled On the Ball. The book has wonderful photographs of the bowling balls, which were given to artists all over the country and then returned to Todd and Kiaralinda. Some notable artists in the collection include Howard Finster, Nancy Josephson, Mr. Imagination, and more. The balls are shelved in the gallery, a structure adjacent to their house.

A bowling ball given to the artists from Howard Finster
The gallery houses a large mirror, which peers out over the whimzeyness outside. The window itself has a curtain of recyclables and stained glass hanging above, making it even more colorful!

The gallery view opposite of the window
More lovely flowers
Albert told me to photograph this frog, hanging out in the door frame

~The Guest House AKA "Casa Loco"~

Todd and Kiaralinda have bought many properties surrounding their home. One of their most recent projects includes a guest home across the street from their home, which is being turned into a crafty paradise!

A corner of the wonderfully decorated guest house

The guest house was crammed with all sorts of fun finds from Mexico!
A lot of the doors in the house were mosaic-ed.
A bundt pan ceiling? Why not!

The storage area attached to the guest house has one of the best mosiacs I have ever seen!
The Y2K Bug, one of their two art cars!
A real Florida orange tree!

The guest house has a beautiful mosaic on one side

Kiaralinda snaps a photo of me with GB, the gold bowling ball they've taken cross country

Todd and Kiaralinda strike a pose as our "whimzey"-cal visit comes to an end
You can find out more about how to visit the Whimzey Twinz at Roadside America or at their/Kiaralinda's official website.

Their latest project is developing a community arts and music center called SHAMC- Saftey Harbor Arts and Music Center. SHAMC also has a Facebook page, which allows followers to receive updates on SHAMC's development and progress!

1 comment:

  1. You should check this out:
    Bottle Houses: The Creative World of Grandma Prisbrey
    I know they have a copy at the CML in Aderhold.