The study of neighbors through their lawn decoration...
Before Cinco de Mayo was a weekend party, Colorado residents celebrated their Southwestern heritage through yard art. The five popular pieces pictured above were usually purchased as a set at local garden stores and placed in the yard in two groupings. The more prominent lawn display was the serape hombre standing alongside the burro pulling a cart of petunias. In a separate flowerbed, typically to the back of the yard, the siesta sombrero hombre was seated with his back to the cactus. Sadly, sometime during the 1970s, the unsophisticated sentiment implied in these sculptures started to offend and many were destroyed.
It is now impossible to see a full display anywhere in Denver: But in honor of this weekend's Cinco de Mayo celebration, we've brought these scattered displays together. Page through below to see how each of these sculptures has been assimilated into mainstream yard art culture across the city, from Five Points to Athmar Park...
Siesta Sombrero in Five Points. The sombrero-wearer taking a siesta above may have escaped his Southwestern setting, but he still enjoys leaning against a thorny rose bush in place of the prickly organ pipe cactus for his rest.
Burro and Serape Hombre in Congress Park. The professional placement of the burro and serape hombre with the Disney-cartoonish birdbath, rusty wheel and perfect rock arrangement hint that these pieces were purchased at a premium on eBay by a man who collects vintage bowling shirts.
Burro and Cart in Baker. That the cart has been loaded with heavy rocks to help sink it into the concrete base is a clear sign that this neighborhood suffered through a period of rampant yard-art theft. It also appears that those days may have passed, as Mary is currently enjoying a free ride.
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Cactus Cover in Baker. Here, the concrete cactus sculpture seen above has been rescued from its traditional role as a leaning post and is now used as a screen to conceal the spotlight on the angel squatting in its bath of (what we hope are) dried leaves. The chicken salt-and-pepper shakers to the lower left help to give the scene some scale.
Desertification in Athmar Park. It's no wonder that the burro, the hombres and the cactus yard art sculptures are missing. They couldn't survive in a yard that has been covered in concrete. The barren landscape makes the empty cart seem like it was haplessly abandoned in desperation.