This month’s visit to the Long Beach flea market was not fun … except for hanging out with friends, running into Denise from A Growing Obsession blog, and the above, the booty: Three carved soapstone monkeys, two propane tank covers and a sun-shaped plow thing. While deciding how to photograph these new, disparate things, I arrived at this very natural-feeling arrangement. The tank covers fit just right on the left and right monkey’s heads, like fancy red palace guard hats … and the sun shape looked positively regal on the central monkey’s head. I have to admit I bought these items not knowing where, or how, I might use them in the garden … but now I had an idea. I’d make this savvy simian trio the garden’s central focal point!
Replacing the tri-circle-square arrangement on my huge industrial dolly wasn’t an easy one; it had been very popular at the garden tour in April. So, I made the decision to incorporate all of those elements in the new arrangement. I turned the large concrete circles on their sides and placed the cinder blocks inside them, the better to use them as pedestals. The rusted gears that previously moored the circles now provided a transition at the top of each. On each now-hidden cinder block I placed concrete rounds from a local estate sale; these created perfect perches for each monkey, and raised them to a suitable focal point height. For the central monkey I turned the sun-shape around, so that its smooth front faced the viewer. I kept getting a Tony Duquette vibe from the sun-shape, and after some research realized why: it was very reminiscent of a mirror attributed to this amazing Los Angeles design hero (see it here). Mr. Duquette was fearless in his design/color choices, and did not shy away from mixing the high with the low when achieving a look … I’m not equating myself with Duquette, but knowing his work has always been an enormous inspiration. (This book is available now, and a terrific source for learning about Duquette’s work and life.)
All-in-all I’m very pleased with my new garden group. It’s interesting — a little silly — but also well-balanced and proportionately correct. It’s checking off all the Rancho design boxes and is junky, industrial, rustic and fun. Best part: when I showed it to Paul the first time, he laughed out loud. It was a great reaction and, for me, the perfect compliment!