|the side yard at the House of Joy Bordello Boutique
This morning as I was musing about what inspires me, my thoughts turned (once again) to Jerome, AZ. Obviously, I love that town — it has such spectacular vistas, interesting buildings, colorful history and quirky galleries. When I visited last February, I was very drawn to one place in particular, the House of Joy. The owners have created a whimsical assemblage of curiosities and “junque” along the balconies, patio and yard (not to mention the amazing collection of vintage goodies that they have in their gallery! Words fail, just go). It is beautiful and bizarre, and a perfect example of the kind of found art that I envision in and around that dream house that I keep yammering about.
|front patio at the House of Joy in Jerome AZ
When we passed back through in November, I had to show this place to Robb. As we giggled and wondered about the various piles of “trash” and treasure, an older gentleman emerged from the house. R took that opportunity to ask the man about his yard. His reply was so awesome that I had to write it down. I wasn’t able to do so straight away, so I’ll give you the disclaimer that this is paraphrased (and Mr. Dempsey, if you ever read this, I hope you will forgive me if I’ve bungled your words) hopefully I managed to capture the essence:
|meeting this man was one of the highlights of our trip
“I don’t trust people who keep neat yards. You’ve gotta have some individuality. People live in these places where they want to tell you how tall your house can be and what colors you’re supposed to paint it, and it makes them small. When you live in a place where everything looks the same, everyone starts to think the same too. Soon, you just stop living cause you’re so busy worrying about who has a bigger car or a better house.”
He talked at length about the value of individuality, and also about the importance of knowing your heritage. He is proud to be of Mexican descent, which is one of the reasons that he has an ornate shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe on his front balcony. He gave us a wry smile and told us that he wanted “to be sure to remind everyone who was here first”.
|Lady Guadalupe presides over the balcony
We chatted with Mr. Dempsey for some time while he gave us an impromptu tour of the town. I was honored when he went back to his yard and brought me out a handful of crystals and iron slag from the old mine. I used them to build a tiny shrine on my desk, to remind me that one day, I’ll have crazy art gardens too 🙂
He’s an excellent storyteller and a pretty deep guy; we felt very fortunate to have bumped into him. So when I thought about an inspirational subject to write about today, I remembered this fabulous yard and its owner. What a character — I can only hope to be that cool when I grow up!