Arlene and I have been on some pretty interesting rides, but I think our little trip to Kenny Glasgow’s “Philosophy Park” in Lytton, BC was extra special. Kenny is solidly in the “Top Ten Most Interesting Guys You’ll Ever Meet” list. From our house in Langley, it’s a nice day ride up the Fraser Canyon to Lytton and back. The ride itself is great (take # 7 instead of #1 to Hope – then take #1 to Lytton); wonderful scenery, lots of passing lanes and a really decent, biker-friendly meal stop at the Canyon Alpine Restaurant just north of Boston Bar. If you’re coming from somewhere else or you plan a circle tour, you will follow the Thompson and/or Nicola Rivers. Both are scenic rides worth the time by themselves.
You’ll find Kenny’s place by crossing over the Thompson River in Lytton, immediately turning right on Botanie Creek Road, winding along not quite 2 klicks before turning into his yard. Don’t worry about missing it. You won’t miss the huge Bowie knife that serves as a gate with the 10-meter Winchester 30.30 overhead. Flanking the drive are several pieces of welded art accompanied by his thoughts on Time. Beyond the gate you can see three GIANT Harley Davidsons. You get the flavour of the place pretty quickly.
If you are fortunate, Kenny will be “in the house”. You may have to look for him in his shop – you won’t miss it, it has a 10 metre shotgot on the roof – or he may find you. Or he won’t be there. Or he may show up while you’re there. When we were there he appeared out of nowhere, heading off somewhere in a tremendous rush. Because we were interested he spent almost an hour giving us the grand tour.
At any rate, after the astonishingly huge bikes, the next thing the observant biker will notice is the myriad other smaller welded metal scuplture – everywhere! Most have their own philosophical quote – by Kenny, of course – that verbalizes the theme of each piece. Some of the stuff is “down-home”, some is “right-between-the-horns” and some is “pretty-much-out-there”. All of it is incredibly well executed and is often enhanced by its setting at the sun baked site. In some cases, I feel the encroaching vegetation has become part of the piece. Many of Kenny’s pieces are about freedom: the big bikes are entitled “The Great Hog of Freedom”. If there is a common thread among bikers, freedom would be it and there are plenty of pieces evoking that theme.
If you have toured any distance at all, you have passed more than one Enchanted Forest or Mother Goose Playland. No roadside attraction, Kenny’s out-of-the-way place is his own playground rather than a way to make a living. Like any artist though, he wants people to enjoy his work, so his yard is open to the public. He does have a donation basket (yet another piece of art) and like anyone, appreciates donations. Be generous. Kenny does have outhouses on site…but I would take care of that business prior to your visit. I’m just sayin’… 🙁 It’s anything but an “R” rated place (more like “G” rated ), although there are a couple of 3-metre breasts on the hillside made from inverted satellite dishes – complete with his tasteful thoughts on breasts, of course.
Kenny figures the four most beautiful things in the world are Harley Davidsons, the Spitfire, The Messerschmitt ME109 and the Bowie knife. The Harleys are there, there are Bowie knives and there is a full size Spitfire coming together in his shop (it’ll be a “fighting for freedom” piece). He hopes to build the ME109 but for now he is leaving it at that. He took us through his shop, which was worth the trip on its own. The Spitfire fuselage and wings were a-building but there was also two huge metal lathes, welders, hoists, tons of tools, models of bikes and planes, many thousands of books…and several hundred teddy bears. We never got the story on the teddy bears so will have to make another trip for that one.
The whole time he was with us, Kenny was a bubbling font of philosophies and explanation; so much so that it was impossible to keep up. When I asked him what inspried him, he said that things just come to him in a flash. “We’re all just antennas for the stuff that’s out there, y’know”. Hmmmm. I know a few artists and each one has a unique way of viewing their world. Kenny’s view is quite unique, indeed.
If you take the time to visit Kenny’s “Philiosophy Park”, plan on a few hours. Take a camera with a full battery and an empty card. Above all, go with an open mind. Be prepared to spend those hours looking carefully at each piece, but most of all be prepared to visit with an amazing person – if you are lucky enough to catch him. You’ll enjoy some pieces, laugh at many and wrestle with a few, while the odd one may generate a struggle within. Don’t forget to get your picture taken on one of the big bikes. I honestly think it’s impossible to take it all in during one visit. I know that we’ll be back if not for anything else, just to visit Kenny.
As we rode home, various lines from “In the Gallery” by Dire Straits ran through my head: “…It was in his blood and in his bones…”, “No junk, no string…”. The song is about Harry, a very talented sculptor who was unable to make it in the art world because the critics had shunned him. It was only after his death that it became fashionable for galleries to display his work. I couldn’t help but think of Kenny, tucked away up a winding backroad near Lytton, toiling at his passion in the sizzling summers and freezing winters, essentially unknown. Perhaps it is best that you have to go to him rather than his art come to you. It makes the trip if you appreciate his art. If nothing else…there’s always the ride.
As always, I encourage questions and comments on this post. Please see the tag line below to make a comment.