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Ellensburg, Washington

Dick and Jane's Spot

An outsider art duo's yard has been turned into a whimsical public gallery. 

After buying a simple Washington home, one husband and wife outsider art duo were able to create a visual wonderland for passersby and a headache for local culture police. 

Artists Dick Elliot and Jane Orleman began decorating their home in the town of Ellensburg with a colorful collection of folk art sculptures, painted cutouts, bottle trees, and patterns of reflectors in 1978. Collecting works created by a number of Northwestern folk artists, in addition to paintings and sculptures created by Jane and colored geometric abstractions created by Dick, the small yard soon became a psychedelic explosion of outsider art. However, some members of the community saw the whimsical yard as a troublesome eyesore.

After installing one of Jane’s works known as Big Red, a topless female figure with reflectors for nipples, many of the neighbors balked at the couple and their very public art display, keeping Dick and Jane resolutely off the official community art council. However, this attitude softened over the years and Dick and Jane were even given ten extra feet of land on their property to continue their creations.

Sadly, Dick died in 2008 leaving Jane to curate the fantastical yard on her own. However despite Dick’s passing, Dick and Jane’s Spot continues to act as a playful ray of sunshine for all who pass by.