A garden of goat-getting political satire – MT Liggett’s art field

Art Field – Myron “M.T.” Liggett

1930 —
119 N Cherry
Mullinville, KS
Sculpture environment
Built: 1989-present

“I say what I want to say, and I piss a lot of people off.”

M. T. Liggett was born into a sharecropping family in tiny Mullinville, Kansas (about 30 miles east of Dodge City) in the 1930’s. After a career in the Air Force, M.T. returned to the farm where he was born.

It all started with a gargoyle to protect his horse, next a less than flattering caricature of a county commissioner, then to another and another. Soon, M.T.’s welded social commentary took root on his farm. In 1989, he began creating fantastic, sometime kinetic, “totem poles” from scraps of metal, old car parts, road signs, and just about anything else he find. He uses a plasma arc cutter and an arc welder to turn old farm equipment, car parts, road signs, and any other odd bits of iron he can lay his hands on, into fantastic characters which adorn his property, on the side of Route 400 just west of town. Most of M.T.’s sculptures are brightly painted, and many have moving parts that spin and flash in the hot Kansas sun.

The most striking characteristic of M.T.’s art, though, is its edgy wit and overt political bite. It is immediately apparent, that he is a man with opinions to spare, which he likes to share. Now stretching almost a mile, his garden of goat-getting political satire keeps the town folks at the local diner irritated.

Most of his sculptures are basically fantastic, funny, ferocious political cartoons.  They reach from international themes (“Greeenpeace”) to the local (a news anchor skewered as the “CROC-TV Newshound”). A number of figures depict loves of Liggett’s life (a charming one is “Enchantress looking for a bow”).  Some are captioned in various foreign languages (“Nero Cuore Vecchia Borsa”).  Some depict characters that seem to have sprung entirely from Liggett’s imagination.

It is difficult to place Liggett on the political spectrum. You may think you have him figured out from works like those depicting Hillary Clinton as “Our Jack-Booted Eva Braun” and Janet Reno as “Queen of Waco” and “Bitch of Buchenwald”, and then be scratching your head in front of “Dubya – Bring Back Slick Willie” and “Jesse Helms loves Margaret Thatcher”. Beneath his gruff exterior lies an extremely intelligent and talented man who has volumes to say.

The overly-sensitive should be forewarned: there are images here to offend every taste.

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(Photos © copyright 2006-2013 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved. Ice storm photos courtesy of the artist.)

Bibliography & Links:

“Detour Art—Outsider, Folk Art, and Visionary Folk Art Environments Coast to Coast, Art and Photographs from the Collection of Kelly Ludwig” by Kelly Ludwig, Kansas City Star Books, 2007.

“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.

On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Back to the Breadbasket,” KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 2004.

“Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art—A guide to American Artists, Locations and Resources” by Betty-Carol Sellen with Cynthia J. Johnson, McFarland & Company, 2000.