Who is going to see it, God?
That’s the question posed to William Jude Rumley by his nine-year-old daughter in response to Rumley’s plans to build an art installation in the yard of his home. The home is Tudor style, beautiful and historic with a steeply pitched roof and deep red brick throughout. The yard is expansive with overflowing plants and bushes that flower in the summer months and feel almost wild, reminiscent of a spring hike in the mountains or a French countryside. Standing in opposition to this sense of unbridled nature is a large spot of buffalo grass, spacious and manicured to an even finish. It is here where Yard Art Yard was formed.
“I had not been making art for a while and I needed to do something with my yard” William states. “I was looking at this yard and thinking, I should make something out of this.” William comes from a background of Irish farmers and his original idea was to tie art installation and food production into one.
“The first piece I came up with was Sky Garden”, he says. “I was thinking of this whole idea of second use, the idea of using water twice”. Sky Garden is a series of painted flower boxes that sit atop high wire trellises. William explains that the flowers at the top are watered and water then flows down to the trellises beneath.
The coming of the new W Line light rail sparked William’s creativity even further. He realized that “there is the most amazing kinetic sculpture going right by my house” and felt that he could leverage the backdrop of the light rail train as a conduit for art. The increased foot traffic past his house to Lamar light rail station didn’t hurt either. William expanded the idea of art installation on his lawn. He collaborated with other artists and used his gift as a photographer to translate the installation process to video.
William describes this period in his own words. I was “looking at different ways to exhibit art and celebrating the urbanization of this area. I did not want to function as an artist or curator. The idea was that I would find these artists under natural circumstances and bring them in. My only job is to help facilitate the art. It’s trying to get out of the idea of the white box gallery space.”
William clarifies that he respects and appreciates the traditional art setting, the “white box” as he calls it, but also loves that his yard is organic, unruly, and simple. His collaboration process with an individual artist follows the same pattern. No money is exchanged, he doesn’t seek out artists but rather allows the process to unfold naturally, and there’s no specific length of time that a piece remains on exhibit.
The interchange between the artist and the viewer strikes a similar note. Yard Art Yard is a play on words. The first two words, Yard Art, encompass the idea that every yard is a work of art. Whether it’s Christmas lights or pink plastic flamingos each homeowner grapples with the artistic process that makes their yard unique. The last two words, Art Yard, describe the gallery space itself, an outdoor venue where artists showcase their work against a backdrop of grass, sky, and light rail lines. It’s not too far fetched to think that if there is a God, he might be watching too.
Yard Art Yard is on display at the Northeast corner of 13th Avenue and Otis Street, between the Wadsworth and Lamar Light Rail Stations.
Currently on display is “The Manifold People” by artist Donald Gary Fodness.
Please remember to check the outdoor display kiosk to link to William’s video interview with each artist.
Videos for past and current projects are listed below.