By this point our successes with Roadside America was so great we decided to focus on the immediate Columbus area. First up was the Chief Leatherlips Monument on Riverside Drive in Dublin, who according to the accompanying plaque, “was a good friend of Indian and white man alike. The white settlers called him Leatherlips because of “his admirable trait of never breaking a promise.”
The Leatherlips Monument is a twelve-foot high portrait, the chief’s hair blown back and receding into the hillside. Limestone slabs are mortared together to form the head, which gazes west towards the Scioto River.
Easy access to the back of the chief permits visitors to pose as bits of his scalp. Chief Leatherlips is believed to have located his last hunting camp in this spot. In 1810 he was executed by tomahawk on the orders of his brother, Roundhead, for being too friendly with the white settlers.
Next up was a chiropractor’s office on Cleveland Avenue, south of the Outerbelt, where a dying tree has been carved into a spinal column and painted white. In addition, the parking space lines are paintings of spines.
On North High Street just south of Worthington was the Dragonbrush, a sculpture in front on the Bourgeois Dental Clinic of a Dragon holding a toothbrush. Fairly lame.
To keep up with the theme, we went to the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant near Port Columbus Airport. The restaurant was having Sunday brunch, which was mediocre at best, set in a faux French farmhouse, with an old plane and jeep outside.
Going downtown we stopped by the former Ohio School for the Deaf, which has strange faces attached to both arched entrances to the building. They are sort of like gargoyles, but without a body, and they all have bizarre expressions. The Gothic Revival building was built in 1898-99 and was used as the deaf school until 1953. After that it was abandoned for years, but has recently been beautifully renovated as an office building.
Next door is the Columbus Topiary Park, whose the seven-acre park’s history goes back much further than its dedication in 1992. The topiaries are nestled within what was historically called Old Deaf School Park, which has a past spanning back to the early 19th century. However, when you look at the park’s roots you find the history of the Ohio School for the Deaf, the inspiring story of James and Elaine Mason who first dreamed of a topiary garden and, of course, you see the muse: Georges Seurat’s famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte.
Around the corner on Broad Street is the site of the first Wendy’s Restaurant ever. It is now home to the Teachers Union headquarters and has a statue dedicated to teachers.
But fear not, on the way home we stopped at the new flagship Wendy’s on 161, across from Wendy’s headquarters to see the small museum as well as the statue of Dave.
Back in Dublin was a strange spherical observatory on the edge of 200 ft. diameter landscape circle. The observatory is a 20 ft. x 24 ft. house made of copper, bronze and stucco. Holes have been cut into the dome top in the shape of household items that project sunlight down into the house. The Watch House and Circle Mound are the work of artist Todd Slaughter, created in 1999. The house is intended to meld imagery from modern culture with the area’s native traditions and culture.
Not far away there are the three dancing rabbits in a small public park on the way to the Ballantrae housing development. They’re at the top of a hill and are apparently made of scrap metal pliers, and hammers.
Near Tuttle Crossing Mall is, in a former corn field, sprouting 109 people-sized ears of concrete corn in a large oddball art display. But it’s also a salute to Sam Frantz, an inventor of hybrid corns.
Frantz farmed this site from 1935 to 1963, using it as a study field for tasty mutant strains. Frantz was “well known for his development of hybrid corn seeds,” and worked with Ohio State University on hybridization projects. He donated this land, now named Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park, after its farming days were over.
Intended by the Arts Council to remind residents of the area’s long-gone agricultural heritage, the Field of Corn instantly became a joke — giant inedible food — paid for with tax dollars, and surrounded by a sprawl of corporate offices, bland businesses and suburban neighborhoods.
Not far from the Corn Cobs is a herd of rusty steel horses at the entrance to The Farms, an apartment complex. There are approximately ten of them standing in various poses. In addition to the ones along Hayden Run Rd, a few more can be found along Edwards Farms Rd, which actually leads to the apartments. From a distance the horses almost look real.
By then we had exhausted the Roadside America art in Columbus.