Title of Work
Samuel Perry "S.P." Dinsmoor, Garden of Eden 1
Date of Work
Super 8 film
Art & Design Study Collection: James Smith Pierce Film Collection
Stored: JSP.FAST.FILM BOX 2
UND Art Collections Repository
Born in Brooklyn, New York, James Smith Pierce received his PhD in art history from Harvard University. During his career as a professor, Pierce also became an accomplished artist, whose artworks were included in important exhibitions (including a show on land art at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC) and books on contemporary earthworks and site-specific sculpture. Pierce was also a photographer, exhibition curator, and art collector.
About Samuel Perry “S.P.” Dinsmoor:
Samuel Perry Dinsmoor was born in Lucas Kansas in 1843. Dinsmoor served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and after leaving military service, went on to work as a schoolteacher. He began constructing his Garden of Eden after his retirement. Dinsmoor constructed his Garden of Eden as a tourist attraction, placing some of the sculptures as high as 40 feet in the air on large concrete trees to draw attention.
Dinsmoor was well known for his eccentric antics. His home was the first in town with running water (because he illegally tapped into the water main). He created a speaking tube that ran from his house to a sculpture of an angel near the sidewalk. When passer-bys would attempt to view his work from the streat without paying for a tour, he would nag them via the sculpture. He constructed a 40 foot limestone mausoleum on the property in which was interred his first wife and in which he would be interred in a glass topped case so that visitors may view his body, which is still displayed to this day. Prior to his death, he would pose for pictures in his coffin for 25 cents.
Following his death in 1932, Dinsmoors’ second wife immediately sold the property. A later owner offered a bounty for anyone willing to demolish the site, but found no takers; there was a strange local superstitious reverence for the place. In 1969 it was reopened as an attraction, and as of 2012 the site is managed and maintained by the Kohler foundation.
Digitally preserved 2021.
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