Hillegass and Benvenue are a little tonier than ideal for finding quirk, but Benvenue does have some awesome pink flamingos and the Code Pink van, and Hillegass does have this awesome mishmash of lights and signs and sculpture hanging from trees and stripes and bright colors and at night lights.
When I posted this, I had held onto photos for two years but still didn’t know the story behind the bright colors and stripes etc.
The owner and creator of the quirk is architect Wayne Katsumata. His architectural journey took him to work in Mexico for a number of years. There, he was impressed and inspired by the unpredictability of the architecture and the use of proletarian materials. That would be influence #1.
Influence #2 would be Japan, where he was born. The ephemeral nature of beauty, the single stick of bamboo in the snow, struck him.
And #3 would be Brazil, specifically Brazilian bossa nova, his favorite music in the world. He associates design with music and movement.
It all added up to wanting to do something unpredictable at his Hillegass home. He started in around 2000. What he did had to be accessible, something that others could do and would try.
So he went at it. Stripes and lights. The baby photograph near the gate is of Katsumata’s wife Pam Stockwell. The Citroen on the pole is a salute to Citroen, too slow and too soft a suspension to drive aggressively.
Katsumata talks of the sweetness of doing nothing, a skill set that most of us don’t come to easily or naturally.
I showed the photos to my friend. He got a far-away look in his eyes – cue Mick Jagger! – and sat quietly. In a minute he perked up – “I know how I know that place. I used to hang out there with some cats from the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company!”