Fred Smith's house and modest tavern
just south of Phillips, Wisconsin.
Slide Inventory and Captions for
images of Wisconsin Concrete Park were taken on October 22, 1972.
It was a cool autumn week-end in October, 1972. Somehow
I had talked my then young, then husband Andrew into packing up the
boys, Garth nine months, Glenn two years old, borrowing Andrews
brother's Minolta camera, packing food and diaper bags in our old station
wagon and heading north to Phillips Wisconsin. I was in my junior year
at the Art Institute of Chicago majoring in painting.
My sculpture professor, James Zanzi, had, over the
two semesters I worked under him, spoken regularly and passionately
about the visionary sculptures of Fred Smith. Zanzi said that Smith,
a retired lumberjack and self-taught artist, was deeply misunderstood
by the people of Phillips where he lived and made his sculptured environment
which he named the Wisconsin Concrete Park. When I learned about him,
Smith was eighty-seven years old and in a nursing home. Zanzi said that
we must actually see the work, document it and remember it, because
it was going to fall into ruin. Four years later, in a fierce summer
downburst, two-thirds of Smith's sculptures and much of the lush forest
setting for his sculptural tableaux were damaged destroyed.