Not to Scale: Finding Fantasy on the Roadside
An ongoing photographic project by Jack Wilgus

The photographs in this site are part of my continuing exploration of an idea that has long intrigued me. Early in my photographic career I was fascinated by the ability of photography, through multiple exposure, printing, and collage, to make fantasies visible. In addition to my own photographic work with multiple images I began to collect "exaggeration" postcards. Of special note are those by William H. "Dad" Martin, an early 20th century Kansas photographer who published a series of landscapes that included giant vegetables, animals, and insects. In my readings and travels I discovered that there are many places where large, bizarre, and wonderful objects have been constructed in the landscape. A "straight" photograph can be made with the fanciful magic of a Martin. I was able to use my sabbatical to continue to collect these experiences.

The most striking example of this is the style of architecture called "mimetic", "duck", or "vernacular" where buildings are made in the shape of objects or animals. A starship restaurant in Texas, an elephant building in New Jersey, an office building that is a six story basket in Ohio, and a shoe shaped house in Pennsylvania are some examples I have photographed.

Another sub-set are giant figures used for advertising. They are generically called Muffler Men since most, but not all, advertised muffler shops. Some held huge bags of groceries outside food stores and a race of giant women originally sold tires. Although some of these figures still serve their original purpose others have been recycled to advertise a miniature golf course, fiberglass fabrication shop, and amusement parks. They have also become mascots for popular culture with books and web sites devoted to their location. I also keep my eyes open wherever I am for things that are "not to scale" such as a large pig on a barbeque restaurant or an enormous fox on an auto dealership.

The sabbatical gave me time to plan road trips and the leisure to explore without having to hurry back for school. I have a list of places still to visit and will continue to add to the collection.

I share this interest with my favorite comic strip character, "Zippy" by Bill Griffith. Periodically Zippy is pictured conversing with and admiring many of the very subjects of my series. Zippy often asks, "Are we having fun yet?" As I proceed with my exploration for more bizarre subjects I can answer, "Yes" to Zippy's question.