Giant horses, enormous cows, men that tower over the skyline… some of them are permanent fiberglass structures, some temporary inflatables, almost all of them are advertisements for a business. They’re cool, and I take pictures of them.
Where Are They?
So far, I’ve covered Indianapolis with the help of family, friends and helpful strangers who’ve sent me information through e-mail. I’ve also taken several trips around Indiana and the midwest. There are still several Indiana day trips I need to make to photograph:
- Giant Egg in Mentone, Indiana
- Giant Peach near Vincennes, Indiana
- Big Chicken in Spencer, Indiana
- Giant Red Rooster in Hobart, Indiana, Hwy 6
- Giant Rocking Chair in Amity, Indiana
- Giant Indian in Toto, Indiana
E-mail me if you know of any big things in Indiana that I’ve missed.
Pictures of… stuff that’s big. Like Mr. Bendo of Ralph’s Muffler, giant chickens, cows, horses, etc. There are lots of these roadside art/advertising objects in and around Indianapolis.
Sadly, since I started photographing in 1999, Some of Indy’s "Big Things" have been lost to time, due to businesses closing or natural disasters. Here are my photographs in tribute to Indianapolis icons that are lost time.
These big things are often seasonal, related to holidays (Santa, pumpkins, ghosts) or are used as advertising to highlight a sale or grand opening. They’re usually temporary, so catching them is more challenging, and often more fun.
Indiana has quite a few big things in various towns; I’ve traveled around to photograph many of them, and will be making more trips this year to find more.
Pictures of… stuff that’s big in Muncie, Indiana, home of my alma mater, Ball State University. Muncie has three big "Muffler Men" type guys, as well as a giant frog, hippo, lion and other stuff.
Pictures of "Big Things" outside Indiana, including a Uniroyal Tire Gal and a Giant Cornucopia. Also, one of the first "Big Things" I ever photographed; a giant Indiana in Oklahoma.
I took a massive four-day road trip through the midwest (Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois) to photograph "Big Things."
On a trip with my girlfriend to a VW Beetle car show in Virginia, we visited Dinosaurland in Winchester, Virginia. Dinosaurland is a tacky 60’s tourist attraction featuring 40 huge dinosaurs and other "big things" like a giant King Kong.
Stephanie and I went on a road trip to take pictures of Big Things in Louisville. Including the giant bat, a coffee pot, and the giant Colgate Clock.
Me and "Big Things" in the papers
On January 5, 2005 an article on on my "Big Things" photography hobby was the cover story of Nuvo Newsweekly. I did an interview, and had my picture taken with Mr. Bendo for the article.
Why do I Take Pictures of Big Things?
When I was a kid, my family used to stop at the Happy Chef in Ottumna, Iowa, which featured a Giant Chef, complete with chef’s hat and wooden spoon. If you pressed a button at the base of the statue, the chef would talk to you. It scared the crap out of me, but I still wanted to stop every time.
I resumed my fascination with "Big Things" on a road trip in 1996 to Tucson, Arizona. My friends were moving, and I helped them drive the moving van out west. We took Route 66 for part of the trip, so we saw lots of big things. Unfortunately, my crappy camera didn’t capture many of them, but when I got home, I started snapping pictures around Indianapolis.
As a designer, I’m fascinated by "Big Things" because I’m interested in their effectiveness as advertising. To catch people’s eye, the advertiser took something ordinary and distorted its size in relation to the objects that surround it. You’re driving along, and you see "building building, giant cow, building" and you think, "Wait a minute, giant cow? That’s not right. What is that?"
Another interesting aspect of the "Big Things" phenomenon is that big people like Mr. Bendo are the decendents of American folklore. Part of our American archetype are folk stories of giant men like Paul Bunyan, who strode across the landscape, stepping over trees and buildings as he helped tame the wilderness.
Closely related to "Big Things," mimetic architecture are buildings in the shapes of objects, like the long-gone Polk Dairy building, which featured smoke-stacks shaped like large milk bottles. This building was one of the few examples of Mimetic Architecture in Indianapolis.
Me and "Big Things" On TV:
Dick Wolfsie and Barney the Dog, from WISH-TV Daybreak News interviewed me about my "Big Things" at 5:50 a.m. Tuesday January 15th, 2002, from Ralph’s Muffler on 16th street, home of Mr. Bendo.
I’ve been mentioned several times on the website roadsideamerica.com: "Akin to the mad building frenzy of the Winchester Mystery House widow, Steph must keep photographing giant things in Indianapolis or die."
Me and "Big Things" In Print:
Indiana Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities, and Other Offbeat Stuff
by Dick Wolfsie (Author)
I have photo credits in Dick Wolfsie’s new book, of the giant Steer in Kokomo and the ladies leg sundial that I photographed. I was featured on Dick’s show for my photography of "Big Things."