Thursday, September 25, 2008

La Tortoise in Ranchburger Land

This is a story about a whimsical, minimalist topiary turtle that stands in Meyerland.

Max Ernst's Paros marble Tortoise sits in Andrée Putman's apartment in Paris. The photo is from the book Andrée Putman, A Designer Apart, by José Alvarez and François-Olivier Rousseau; Rizzoli International Publications Inc. Though this turtle is quite charming, it is not the inspiration for La Tortoise in Meyerland, a neighborhood in Houston, Texas.

Tall Husband stands beside La Tortoise to give you a feel for the scale of the boxwood piece (but remember: Tall Husband is Tall.)

In the neighborhood of My Ranchburger, there is a long-standing delightful surprise, a topiary turtle that seems to have been inspired by turtles the artist Max Ernst sculpted during the last century. For years I have smiled each time I drove past this boxwood creature, wondering who created it and why. This turtle has been maintained here for as long as I can remember (I moved here in 1976).

Determined to learn its origin, I recently caught up with the Meyerland Community Improvement Association (
MCIA) landscaping Crew. They told me that the turtle was first sculpted by a former member of their crew, whose name they could not recall. Since the retirement of the original sculptor, the landscape crew has continued to maintain the turtle. It seems that the inspiration for the turtle was the hundreds of turtles that once inhabited the nearby bayou and not by Max Ernst's creations.

A delightful, minimalist topiary turtle stands in Meyerland.

How wonderful to have an anonymous piece of living art bequeathed to a neighborhood. Thank your Sir, whoever you are.

Note: These photographs were shot before the hurricane but La Tortoise still stands after Hurricane Ike; a few less leaves and a bit frowzy, like the rest of us, but still standing!

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