Albert DeBrabander - Lenexa, Kansas - 1934-2015
Albert "Bert" DeBrabander worked for 35 years pouring concrete as a basement contractor in the Kansas City area. In retirement, he found himself "needing something to do in the winter time." It most certainly was not sculpting in concrete, so he picked up a welding torch and began looking for interesting pieces of old implement scrap metal. He started planting metal figures and assorted items on his rural acreage near Lenexa. While hunting near Russell, Bert decided to purchase the old Boot Hill Cafe's 15-foot fiberglass cowboy boot and the postrock limestone signage. This boot has become the identifying trademark of this metal cowboy-and-Indian themed environment. One day he put a couple of cowboy boots stuffed with artificial flowers on his property fence line and soon neighbors and people driving by began to leave their boots for his artistic endeavor.
Florence Deeble - Lucas, Kansas - 1900-1999
Historic Florence Deeble Rock garden
Florence Deeble was a child watching with curiosity when S.P. Dinsmoor was constructing his Garden of Eden in Lucas. When she retired after a career as a high school English and history teacher, she began constructing her own grassroots environment of colored concrete scenes around her home. First prompted by her mother's insistence that she fill in a garden fish pond to prevent anyone drowning in it, Miss Deeble began to create concrete "postcards" of holiday sites she had enjoyed. Even after she was no longer able to do the cement work herself, she devoted herself to celebrating the early history of Lucas, balancing her earlier model of Mt. Rushmore with a work honoring four Lucas notables. Her rock garden is listed on the Kansas and National Registers of Historic Places.
Jim Dickerman - Beverly, Kansas
Folk Art - Metal, Feathers & Bones
For over 25 years Jim Dickerman has been combining scrap metal and parts from cars, trucks, tractors, bikes, and field equipment with skulls, bones, driftwood, antlers, feathers, and just about anything else to create his magical creatures. He sees himself as rather passive in this process, letting the pieces he finds decide what kind of creature they want to be. Since 2000, Jim, who lives in Lincoln County, has been creating his Open Range Zoo along Highway K-18. He asked friends and land owners if it would be okay to exhibit his metal/bone creations in their pastures, on top of billboards and in all sorts of unexpected places, creating a visual surprise around every bend along this two-lane road.