Traveling about in the Pacific Northwest, I have been fascinated by the objects that people place in front of, or alongside their homes and establishments. These objects offer a peek into the lives and motivations of the property owners. In many cases they are emblematic of the people’s professions, personal and cultural identifications, livelihoods, hobbies and passions.

This is a photo diary of some of my collected observations of Yard Art, some of which might be classified as “folk art.”

In addition many shops and retail establishments also place such objects in front of their stores to define the business and to interest customers. These too tell us something about the store and its proprietors. Perhaps the most iconic such signs is the red and white striped barber pole. 

Some objects seem to fall nicely into categories and I’ll group them accordingly. Others are one-offs and in some cases seem off-the-wall. 

Farm-related objects:

In the rural areas of the west that I travel, farm implements are a popular yard object and I suspect that is also the case in any farming community. Here are some from my files:

Headless skeleton rides a hay rake pulled by a (plastic) Holstein dairy cow. Whatcom Co., WA

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Rusting tractor of yore, Willamette valley, OR.

Erekea Flats wagon
Buggy contraption constructed from old farm equipment parts. Sits as a monument to the farm, Eureka Flats, WA

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Combo – cultivator/tractor as mailbox. Skagit Co., WA

An iron mule — tractor, Kittitas Co., WA.  This sits is in front of a roadside farmer’s market

Cultivator or planter, hard to tell? Whatcom Co., WA

Although not a farm object itself, this cowboy is largely constructed from farm parts and materials. Whatcom Co., WA

Farm implement components fashioned into a garden gate. Forest Grove, OR. 

Nautically Themed Objects: 

This one is a twofer. The once fine lapstrake vessel deteriorating in the yard and a car atop the house with the #12 on it. Northwest folk will know what the 12 means. (hint: it has to do with Seattle Seahawks.)   Orcas Island, San Juan Co.,  WA

An old sea captain with lantern. Diogenes of the sea?, Bellingham, WA

A Marine construction (Special Marker) buoy with a happy face. Kitsap Peninsula, Kitsap Co., WA

Vacation rental on the Oregon Coast with beach just beyond the shrubs. Yachats, Lincoln Co. OR. 

Crab and shrimp pot buoys, probably lost and found. Lummi Nation, Lummi Peninsula, Whatcom Co. WA

Another old ship’s captain. Notice white drippings as gull deposits. Point No Point, Kitsap Peninsula, Kitsap Co., WA

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The superstructure of a once proud ship (Jupiter Inlet) is now a home ashore. This yard object is the whole thing. Point No Point, Kitsap Peninsula, Kitsap Co., WA

Bicycles and Motorcycles:

Weather vane, windmill, bicycle rider. When the wind blows, the propellers turn the pedals and his legs pump up and down. This is very entertaining to watch in the wind. Bellingham, WA

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Dirt bikes announce these folks’ hobby. Olympic Peninsula, WA

Another motor bike with Mail box. Bellingham, WA.

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A Penny-Farthing (high wheel) bicycle, with mailbox racing car. Benton County, WA

Flower Basket and rusting Bike by mail box, Bellingham, WA

Animal depictions:

Velveeta the chicken, Bellingham, WA  “Please, NO Riding”

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Bear and salmon in Forest Grove, OR.

A Chia horse with moss. Victoria BC, CA

“Hee Haw”  Donkey overseeing Padilla Bay, Skagit Co., WA

Do we love Boxers? Whatcom Co., WA

A Purple People Eater guarding the yard? Bellingham, WA

A gargoyle guarding the house along with a grey squirrel. Bellingham, WA

A Bald Eagle in its aerie along with two Great Blue Herons carved from trees. Bellingham, WA. This house over looks the Bay where these critters cavort.

Sasquatch with a salmon and its fat cat. Whatcom Co., WA


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Rocket Ship. Reminds me of the one that brought Superman as a Baby to earth. Bellingham, WA

Bowling anyone? Forest Grove OR.

Skier in tree pants, Glacier, WA  Sorry for the blur.

A rickety Stage Coach by a second hand store in Cle Elum, WA. Interstate 90 runs through town now and there is a Greyhound Stop. Sadly, there is little use for this coach any more.  

So there are some of my objets d’art  yard photos.

I’d love to see what yard objects others have seen from your area or travels. Please share your little bit of americana with us. 

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