Nov. 28, 2001

Still Life Imitating Art

By Roy Rivenburg
Que Seurat, Seurat: We normally oppose barbarism, but not if it entails having city councilmen from Vallejo, Calif., drawn and quartered. That’s because they recently approved a tract of homes modeled after the frighteningly popular paintings of ‘‘artist’’ Thomas Kinkade.

The $400,000-plus cottages are part of a village designed to evoke the syrupy ambience of a Kinkade canvas, replete with steeply pitched roofs, faux cobblestone driveways, picket fences, gardens, old-fashioned street lamps, winding pathways and gurgling fountains.

Naturally, this could lead to subdivisions based on other artists’ work. Although nobody has proposed an Elvis on velvet village -- yet -- Off-Kilter has uncovered blueprints for several other towns inspired by famous art:

-- Salvador Dali City, Calif.: The Spanish surrealist’s hallucinatory images spring to life in a burg that features melted clocks, misshapen buildings, holograms of Lenin’s head on pianos and a water supply spiked with LSD.
-- Dogs Playing Poker, Nev.: Based on C.M. Coolidge’s ‘‘A Friend in Need,’’ this is the first city where all canines receive personalized instruction in blackjack, five-card stud and Texas hold ’em. The town also has its own casino, with slot machines that resemble fire hydrants.
-- Andy Warhol Village, N.Y.: All buildings will be made from Campbell’s soup cans.
-- Jackson Pollock, Mass.: A splattered-paint motif is the hallmark of this suburb. Highway engineers plan to ignore the traditional grid roadway system in favor of streets that criss-cross like strands of spaghetti.
-- M.C. Escher-ville, Germany: Homes will feature staircases that appear to go somewhere but actually end up right back where they started. Also planned is a zoo with fish that metamorphose into birds.
-- The Scream, Utah: Inspired by Edvard Munch’s haunting portrait, this hamlet requires all burglar alarms, public address systems, car horns, doorbells and telephone ringers to emit despondent wails.
-- Roy Lichtenstein City: Located in Luxembourg because the tiny nation of Lichtenstein didn’t have room, this cartoonish village asks citizens to write out their conversations in ‘‘thought bubbles.’’
-- Garden of Earthly Delights, Fla.: Modeled after Hieronymus Bosch’s vision of paradise and hell, this subdivision juxtaposes impaling devices and fire pits with bucolic fields and fountains.

Alarming Trends Alert: The author of ‘‘Spam: A Biography’’ has just published ‘‘Jell-O: A Biography.’’ But still no sign of a Velveeta biography.

Sign of the Times: An Adopt-a-Highway sign in Tucson, Ariz., says the roadside is kept clean by: ‘‘Chain Gang.’’

Getting Framed: It’s sort of like going to a zoo that has cages but no animals. The San Diego Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit that consists of nothing but empty picture frames.

Sponsored by the International Institute for Frame Study, the three-month show features frames made from 1860 to 1960. The goal is to ‘‘provide a greater understanding of the frame as an independent work of art.’’

The exhibit also makes us wonder about the new Thomas Kinkade village in Vallejo: If the village is designed to resemble a Kinkade painting, shouldn’t it be surrounded by some sort of giant picture frame, preferably made from radioactive material?

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Bible’s Four Horsemen Ask for Directions in Paris’’ (Weekly World News)

Bonus headline from WWN: ‘‘Wave of David Hasselhoff Babies Baffles Docs! 114 Newborns Look Just Like ‘Baywatch’ Hunk -- But They’re Not His!’’

Unpaid Informants: Los Angeles Times, Arizona Daily Star, Wireless Flash News Service.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate