Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

One quirky sculpture garden in Mason City, Iowa September 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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YOU LIKELY WILL NOT FIND this Mason City attraction listed on any official tourism website.

The official sign marking this unofficial sculpture park in Mason City.

The official sign marking this unofficial sculpture park in Mason City.

But Rancho Deluxe Z Garden, a quirky sculpture garden created on a half-acre of land in this northeastern Iowa community, is precisely the type of homespun arts spot that draws my interest.

An overview upon arriving at Rancho Deluxe Z Garden.

An overview upon arriving at Rancho Deluxe Z Garden.

If not for Mason City resident, blogger and friend, Beth Ann Chiles, though, I likely never would have visited this community, thus missing out on Max Weaver’s creative oddity located at 500 Second Street Northeast. Beth Ann knows me well enough to know I would want to visit the Rancho while visiting her.

The freaky portrait I captured.

The freaky portrait I captured.

So off we drove, aiming for this sculpture garden at the end of a dead end street on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon in late August. We weren’t the only ones there. A photographer was doing a senior photo shoot in a spot apparently popular for such portraits.

The garden features an abundance of bikes.

The garden features an abundance of bikes.

Another suspended bike...

The other side of the suspended bike.

Signatures of Ragbrai 2014 participants who stopped here.

Signatures of Ragbrai 2014 participants who stopped here.

And this summer, participants in Iowa’s Ragbrai, an annual bike ride across the state, toured the Rancho, a stop documented in signatures upon a cement block. The garden features bikes suspended from trees, fences and elsewhere, incorporated as works of art, making this Ragbrai visit especially appropriate.

Randy found his way inside the castle.

Randy found his way inside the castle.

Beth Ann and I, cameras in hand, meandered through the garden while my husband, Randy, clipped along. The Rancho calls for a slow study and multiple times walking through the garden to take in every detail. I expect I missed much, even at my snail’s pace. And, noted, Beth Ann, the garden is ever evolving.

Do loiter here. Especially take time to look at the many 3 x 3-feet painted cement blocks weighing 4,000 pounds.

Do loiter here. Especially take time to look at the many 3-foot square painted cement blocks weighing 4,000 pounds.

From signs to hub caps, bikes, dolls, license plates, rocks, statues, wheels, painted cement blocks and more, this garden presents an eclectic mix of stuff artfully placed on this plot of land.

I'm always a little creeped by misplaced dolls.

I’m always a little creeped by misplaced dolls.

You just have to see Rancho Deluxe Z Garden to believe this almost indescribable place. If you appreciate odd and quirky and art outside the box, then head for Mason City and Max Weaver’s unique sculpture garden.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Love this flower arcing above the garden.

Love this flower arcing above the garden.

More stuff suspended from trees.

More stuff suspended from trees.

Love the vibrant colors and the art painted on a cement block.

Love the vibrant colors and the art painted on a cement block. As I understand, the painted art has been created by many local artists.

Will you always understand what you see? Nope. Bowling balls in a bathtub...

Will you always understand what you see? Nope. Bowling balls in a bathtub…

FYI: Check back tomorrow for more photos from this sculpture garden.

If you like quirky places, consider also touring the “antique theme park” at Hot Sam’s Antiques, rural Lakeville, Minnesota. Click here to read about my visit there two years ago.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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