“You almost have to be gifted to do what I’ve done” — Fred Smith

Wisconsin Concrete Park – Fred Smith

N8236 State Highway 13
Phillips, WI
Concrete environment
Built: 1948 – 1964

“It has to be in the man.  You almost have to be gifted to do what I’ve done” — Grassroots Art Center exhibit, Lucas Kansas

“Nobody knows why I made them… Not even me.” — Sacred Spaces and Other Places, 1993, p. 106.

Fred Smith found his yard to be fertile ground for the creation of his “Wisconsin Concrete Park” (c. 1950-1964) in rural northern Wisconsin. Smith, a retired lumberjack and farmer, spent 15 years developing an environment of over 200 life-size and over-life-size concrete sculptures embedded with glass shards. Eventually, he covered three acres of land, blending legend, history, and his imagination. His subjects ranged from teams of draft horses, woodland animals, farmers, and Native Americans to individuals of historic importance such as Sun Yat-sen, Abraham Lincoln, and Sacajawea (sic) as well as legendary figures such as Paul Bunyan.

Preservation of this site is handled by The Friends Of Fred Smith, Price County Forestry Dept., 104 South Eyder Street, Phillips WI 54555, (715) 339-6371 or (800) 269-4505. This is a non-profit organization. Tax deductable memberships are available, with a newsletter being sent to members. Call or write for an application.

Find this site and others with the iPhone app, “Best Road Trip Ever!”

(Photos © copyright 2006-2013 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)

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 & Roadside Revelations” (the book), by Randy Mason, Michael Murphy and Don Mayberger, Kansas City Star Publishing, 2002.

“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, “Takin’ it to the Lakes,” KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 1997-2001.

“20th Century American Folk, Self Taught, and Outsider Art” by Betty-Carol Sellen, Cynthia J. Johnson, Neal-Schuman Publishers, New York, 1993.

“Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century American Folk Art and Artists” by  Chuck and Jan Rosenak, Abbeville Press, New York, 1990.

“Raw Creation: Outsider Art and Beyond” by John Maizels, Phaidon Press; New Ed edition, 1996, 2000.

“Sacred Spaces & Other Places: A Guide to Grottos & Sculptural Environments in the Upper Midwest” by Lisa Stone and Jim Zanzi, Chicago, IL: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Press, 1993.

“Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Environments” by Roger Manley and Mark Sloan, Aperture, New York, 1997.

“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.

“Sublime Spaces & Visionary Worlds: Built Environments of Vernacular Artists,” by Leslie Umberger, Erika Doss, Ruth DeYoung Kohler, Lisa Stone, and Jane Bianco, published by John Michael Kohler Arts Center and Princeton Architectural Press, 2007.