Cleveland Turner's house

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    Photo: Ted Degener, 1994

Tucked in the midst of an older community of aging and graying shotgun houses in Houston’s Third Ward, the house of Cleveland Turner, the “Flower Man,” stands apart like a huge parrot in a tree filled with sparrows. The corner on which Turner’s house sits is a raucous display of color and texture that grabs the attention of anyone driving past on Elgin Street. Mirrors, horses, flowers faux and real, Mickey Mouse, two versions of the Last Supper, two Santa Clauses with brown-painted faces, European knights in armor, and toy train engines attach to the building in unpredictable formations; three full packages of lipsticks in an array of reds and browns adorn the west wall. Clocks of all types, none of which work, are displayed in abundance, serving as reminders of our own destiny. The artist does not impose on us how we should choose to spend our time or define joy; he simply offers up his own version of everyday pleasure, as van Gogh did with his sunflowers. It all resembles an ocean liner on its way to a Caribbean festival, or a Mardi Gras float.