Ask most people how they judge a good front yard, and they’ll probably mention thick carpets of emerald-hued grasses, well-manicured shrubs and the quality of vibrant, healthy flowerbeds.
Not Deborah Triplett. Those are important, she’d say, but what about the bling?
Two years ago, Triplett, a professional photographer who lives in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood neighborhood, created Yard Art Day. The observance shares its date with Labor Day and celebrates the art of outdoor decoration.
On Yard Art Day, anything goes – from garden gnomes to balloon sculptures to watercolor paintings dangling from trees. Think of it as a 24-hour costume party for front lawns.
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“There’s never too much or too little, in my opinion,” said Triplett, who keeps a stack of designated Yard Art Day signs in her garage for people to pick up and place in their yards on Sept. 1.
“I mean, who am I to judge?” she said. “I just think it’s more important for people to feel the freedom to be creative.”
In Jessie Leech’s front yard on McGill Avenue in Concord, the scattered glass art he exhibited looked like a carnival midway’s house of mirrors.
A 5-foot-tall dancing man made out of shards of mirror glimmered from a tree branch. Swirled designs of crushed glass sat framed against his sprawling front porch. A sparkling ruby-colored snare drum, missing its drumhead, housed a tall thin tree instead.
“I like it because I get a chance to participate in nature’s playground,” said Leech, 50, who learned to create art with anything he found outside as a kid in Mississippi.
“When I find things in nature, I stop looking at them as they are and start looking at them for what they could become,” he said.
Triplett has seen it all in the yearly events that started in 2012, from children’s drawings to professional sculptures – and media that run the gamut from balloons to birdseed.
“It was always my intention not to put any restrictions on people when it came to their yard art for Yard Art Day,” she said. “It’s meant to be for all levels of expertise. I think it’s much more the process than the final result that’s important.”
Triplett said a mother emailed her recently to thank her for the opportunity Yard Art Day brought to work with her tween daughter.
“She wrote, ‘Drop cloth from Lowe’s: $18; old paint lying around: a few bucks; spending several nights working with your daughter on her first Yard Art Day: priceless,’ ” Triplett said. “That makes it special.”
This year, about 200 people participated in Yard Art Day. Triplett has watched the event’s Facebook group swell from a couple of hundred to more than 1,800 members, some as far away as Arizona.
The grass-roots movement started locally, but its originator has happily seen it spread into other communities and states. And even if she can’t see their yards in person, she knows someone else is enjoying them.
There’s really only one rule to adhere to during the holiday, Triplett said.
“Part of the reason of Yard Art Day is to make art accessible to all who are driving or biking or walking down the street,” she said. “That’s why I never allow backyards.”