Kansan enjoys ‘eccentric’ yard art

Don Weber walks through his yard, which is filled with grass-roots art at his home in Victoria. Weber lives on permanent disability after injuring his back at work. Weber spends most of his days working in his yard.

? Driving the streets of northwest Victoria, it’s hard not to notice Don Weber’s striking yard.

Weber’s yard is filled with the sort of decorations often called “grass-roots art.” His kind of art also is called by other names — “homespun,” “eccentric,” “bizarre,” “outsider art,” “primitive” and “kitsch” among them.

Weber’s yard is decorated with treasures made from trash.

A Christmas display takes up much of the south part of Weber’s yard. A Christmas tree with a tall metal candle underneath it stands on permanent display. So does a manger scene with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus in a manger.

Santa perches on the bright red chimney on the house’s south roof. Two more Santas stand near the tree, one on a sled, the other in a covered wagon. Reindeer graze beside them.

“There’s a lot of people who stop and look at these things,” Weber said.

In other parts of Weber’s yard, they see a tin man made from cans, statues, painted concrete cylinders, tubs, candelabras, power line insulators, pumpkins, gourds and numerous hanging pots of silk flowers.

Besides the hanging flowerpots, flowerpots of a different sort can be found on Weber’s lawn. Three toilets — two white and one turquoise — stand along the west side of the property with silk flowers protruding from the bowls and tank.

Weber said a lot of the items he used to make his yard displays came from auctions and garage sales. Some of the items Weber doesn’t know what they used to be, but they look good on his lawn.

“Gotta do something to pass the time,” Weber said. “I change it around every once in a while. Gives me something to do.”

There’s little else for Weber to do with his time. He’s retired because of ill health and a back injury. His ill health stems from years of hard drinking.

“I about took my life drinking. Came awfully close,” Weber said.

For 10 years, Weber has been sober. He attends daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“If I didn’t go there, I would be underground,” Weber said.

He spent his early years working in the oil field.

“Before my mom died, she wanted me to get out of the oil field. Too many of them died,” Weber said.

He went to work for a construction company. That’s when he injured his back, bringing his working days to an end.

Four years ago he had two heart attacks. Now his doctors don’t want him doing much of anything, he said. In the afternoons, he putters around in his yard, rearranging, adding to, taking away from and tweaking his displays.

“I go to Hays in the morning and mess around in my yard in the afternoon. That’s all I do,” he said.

Six cast-iron skillets hang from an old telephone wire spool. Guttering downspouts form a wavy pen around statues of owls, rabbits, geese, cats, squirrels, dogs, turtles, mice, chickens and ducks.

A wooden boy and a matching wooden girl stand next to a wishing well. On each side metal wagon wheel rims stand upright with meat grinders mounted on them.

Antique hand tools are mounted on his garage wall. Parts of his yard are fenced with pieces of garage door. Wooden spindles that used to hold telephone wire are stacked into pyramids. Bird houses and bird feeders are mounted from them.

“I’ve got quite a few birds coming around,” Weber said.

Weber lives in the house his parents bought when they moved from Colorado.

“I was 8 years old when we moved here. It was my folks’ place. I’m 64 now. I’ve been here all my life,” Weber said.