Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Photo Essay: Old Trapper's Lodge Statues

Out of all of the creepy, abandoned places I've visited, from cemeteries to ghost towns to Death Valley, this little nook on a college campus in a suburban part of the Valley spooked me some of the most.



Somehow, a bunch of endangered old statues - handmade by amateur sculptor John Ehn, a descendent of pioneers who dubbed himself "The Old Trapper" - have found their way to a save haven, where they are maintained by a group of anonymous preservationists.

The pioneers, Native Americans, and saloon girls depicted here don't look so happy.



And although they are not the work of a master artist - Ehn had no training besides briefly shadowing Claude Bell (of Knott's Berry Farm / Cabazon Dinosaurs fame) - they evoke a distressing time in history...



...and provoke feelings of trauma and terror.



Gargoyles line the bases of some of the statues...



...grimacing...



...witnessing the horrors above them.



The Old Trapper wanted to tell stories of the past, and he used the property he owned and operated as a motel near the Burbank Airport - The Old Trapper's Lodge - as his canvas...



...portraying scenes from pioneer family life...



...in addition to the battles and kidnappings.



Many of the displaced statues appear stoic in their distress...



...sitting patiently...



...occasionally bemused.



Although mysterious benefactors (no one will say who) have been coming to paint them since their motel was demolished, their layers of colors peel...



...features are cracked...



...faces pitted...



...wardrobes weathered.



What are they looking for?



What are they waiting for?



They are clearly not real...



...but there is something about them that feels very real.



The stone-faced "living" sculptures gaze out among their less fortunate neighbors...



...who have passed in various ways...



...and met their untimely fate.



Amidst the human figures is a cemetery of sorts..



...with graves and headstones tucked away under trees and in the brush...



...describing - sometimes in great detail - what befell them.















Nobody seemed to live very long.



Even some of the headstones have heads...



...with glazed-over expressions...



...and an apathetic pain they feel outside of themselves...



...like many of us humans do.



I rarely photograph people but I love photographing statues.

What does that say about me? (As a person? As an artist?)

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Sanchez's Beer Bottle Chapel & Other Delights at Tito's Tacos, Riverside

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