Sebastopol’s Quirky Junk Sculptures: A Photo Essay

It was a moment of perfect travel serendipity. We were following the Sonoma cheese trail just north of San Francisco and after picking up some excellent St George cheese from Joe Mato’s farm we drove into the nearby small town of Sebastopol for bread for our picnic lunch. We were heading to the Village Bakery but we overshot the turn-off and drove down a residential street to turn around. Luckily that street was Florence Avenue which we discovered isn’t your average suburban street.

Driving into Sebastopol we’d noticed some unusual giant metal sculptures by the side of the road, of a dog and a characterful train, and on Florence Avenue we found smaller versions of these cartoonish sculptures in every garden. We had no idea what we’d stumbled across but we knew we had to take a closer look so we parked the car and walked down the street exploring the sculptures and taking photos. They depict everything from witches, waitresses, and mermaids, to cowboys, baseball players, and motorbike riding skeletons. Farmers drive their tractors, surfers ride the waves, captains sail their boats, and campers toast marshmallows, all in the leafy front gardens of this quiet street.

Patrick Amiot Junk Sculptures, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, CAWe had big smiles on our faces the whole time as the whimsical artworks are colourful, fun, and totally unexpected in a suburban location. Florence Avenue may well be the coolest street in the US.

Patrick Amiot Junk Sculptures, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, CAWe had to find out more so searched for information on our iPhone. The sculptures are the creations of urban folk artists Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent—he sculpts them out of scrap metal and found objects and she paints them. The couple live on Florence Avenue, and we could tell which house was theirs—there were multiple sculptures in their front garden and their car was decorated with painted daisies. Everything they create is from recycled materials, an environmentally sustainable practice which fits perfectly with the ethos of Northern California.

Patrick Amiot house, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, CAOn their website Patrick Amiot explains more about his inspiration:

“The whole purpose of my work is to glorify these objects, because they have their own spirit. When a hubcap has traveled on a truck for millions of miles, and has seen the prairies in the winter and the hot summer asphalt, when it’s done traveling with that truck and finds itself in the scrap yard and I find it, I kind of like to use that. This hubcap, or whatever piece of metal, from the day it was manufactured until now, has an important history. And I like to think the spirit of all these things lived incredible lives. If they could talk to you, they could tell amazing stories. That’s something I don’t want to hide.”

Take a look down Florence Avenue:

Indian and turkeys, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, CASkeleton on a motorbike, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol Superhero and baseball player, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, SebastopolSurfer, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol Mermaid, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol

Patrick Amiot junk sculptures, Florence Avenue, SebastopolPatrick Amiot seems to have a fascination with old cars and trucks which we also love.

Old truck with dog, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol Old truck with cow, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol

In fact, many kinds of transport are recreated.

Fire engine, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol Boat, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol Tractor, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol Campervan, Patrick Amiot junk sculpture, Florence Avenue, Sebastopol

Renga Arts

There are hundreds of Amiot and Laurent’s creations scattered around Sebastopol and we wanted to see more so we headed to Renga Arts which displays and sells the couple’s most recent sculptures and works by other local junk artists. The large junk yard features rusting cars and decaying signs, a sculpture garden, and a shop where you can buy their sculptures or other recycled creations. It’s free and a fun place to wander.

Renga arts, Sebastopol

Renga Arts, Sebastopol

Renga arts, Sebastopol

Renga arts sculpture garden, Sebastopol

A highlight at Renga Arts is the sculpture garden featuring Amiot and Laurent’s creations

Renga Arts junk sculptures, Sebastopol Renga Arts dog in car junk sculpture, Sebastopol Renga Arts junk sculptures, Sebastopol

Sharkmobile, Renga Arts junk sculptures, Sebastopol

The Sharkmobile was built on a 1940 International truck and actually runs

The focus of our trip to Sonoma County was cheese, wine, and nature but we’re so glad that a serendipitous wrong turn led us to discover its quirky, humorous, artistic side in unconventional Sebastopol. It’s inspiring to find a small town that rather than rejecting the new and strange has embraced it and welcomed Amiot’s creations into the community.

Sebastopol, California is located in Sonoma County about 1 hour 15 minutes drive north of San Francisco. You can read more about Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent’s sculptures at patrickamiot.com where you can also find a map of their works in Sebastopol.

Thank you to Sonoma County Tourism who arranged our accommodation in Sonoma and helped us come up with a great itinerary. See sonomacounty.com for more information to help you plan a trip to the area.

Trail Wallet

13 thoughts on Sebastopol’s Quirky Junk Sculptures: A Photo Essay

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post! Such clever and humorous work, I loved them all. I especially chuckled at the fellow hanging onto the back of the fire engine and the men sitting in the Adirondack chairs roasting marshmallows, very cleaver!

  2. Hey Erin

    What a great example of “Well-worn sights do not a good trip make”…a subject I intend to write a post on soon! I applaud people who can just travel wherever the mood blows them, and allow a new and interesting experience to blow their day off course, because you never know what you’ll find. Nice one!

    • Thanks Ruth. High expectations and crowds can often make the big attractions disappointing so we love it when we come across places like this that blow us away.

  3. Gosh darn it, I wish I knew about this place when we visited San Francisco a couple of months ago… Fantastic find! Those zany creations seem straight out of a Czech animation short (albeit much less disturbing). Love the pop culture references (Wicked Witch from Wizard of Oz, the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, Three Little Pigs, Babe Ruth…). It warms the heart to know there are places like that around…

  4. Can you Imagine living there? I go to Sebastopol frequently (my house is about a twenty-minute drive away) and always try to do down this street when in Downtown Sebastopol. Screamin’ Mimi’s Ice Cream Parlor (World’s BEST ice cream. Try it next time you’re in the area and prove me wrong) and Florence Avenue are the two places I try to hit every time. Really depends on the driver, though, since I do not drive myself. Quite frankly, it is the crafter’s capitol of Sonoma County and should be the crafter’s capitol of the country, if not the World. As a crafter myself, I would LOVE to live there, but my mobility issues would make that impossible.

    • We did think when we were there that it looked like a cool town to explore some more, and it’d be great to get a housesit there for a while. We’ll definitely try the ice cream parlour next time -thanks!

  5. Pingback: Wine Tasting in Sonoma: An Alternative to Napa

  6. Hi, this was a great article! I used to live about two minutes from Florence and always went trick or treating there. My family also has a nickname for the skeleton on the motorcycle- Skelly.

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