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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Solomon's Castle

It raises out of the South Central swampland in the middle of no where.  A castle, a home, a workshop, a place of dreams and, sadly the last refuge of lovers of puns.  It literally shines in the afternoon light, covered as it is by aluminum printing plates discarded by a local newspaper publisher.  In fact, nearly everything in and about the castle started out as something different, mundane and dull.   The artist, Howard Solomon - who actually lives, owns and works on the grounds -simply sees the world in different ways.  Where are we might see a pile of wire coat hangers, he sees the beginning of a magical creature.  Were we see old baskets he sees a motorcycle.   His love of art and history are displayed everywhere as various reproductions of old Saturday Evening Post covers by Norman Rockwell.  In his highly detailed collages I see the influence of Romare Bearden although it's a completely different style.  Maybe it's there maybe it's not.

The captain charting his course.
In fact, I don't think there is much Solomon can't do.  Some of the stained glass work throughout the castle and the attached boat - which also serves as a cafe - and the lighthouse (after all how would the boat find it's way home from sea without a lighthouse) is glorious.  Look closely and you see the little details...the cannons on the ship for example.    Or that there are wasps, turtles, gators and other little animals made out of "junk" that you have to look for, but in doing so your rewarded with a pleasant surprise.  

The ride takes you through back roads and small towns, through endless orange groves and strawberry fields.  It's pretty much a straight ride, no twist's for those that might like a winding road except for one wicked "S" bend which sneaks up on you.  It took me about an hour and a half from my home to get there - your trip will vary of course.

It's a cheap attraction, parking is free and ample.  The cost to get the tour is only $10 a person although I got the feeling you could wander about for free.   In doing so you get to avoid many of the groan worthy puns the tour guide has in store for you.    Of course, that is part of the charm of this little place.

I didn't try the food at the "Boat in the Moat", which seems reasonably priced and diverse enough for even the most fickle eater to enjoy, but that just gives me an excuse to go back.  I'm not sure how often the art changes, but I got a feeling this man can't stop creating art...and the idea of spending a night in the new Bed in Breakfast or the "Blue Room" does have some appeal.

 If your curious the castle does have a website and a Facebook page.  The Facebook page has some additional pictures of the various art work and the artist himself.  Some additional photo's can  be found on my Facebook page.

So yea...ride out and enjoy your day.  Motorcycles and other bikes are welcome and in the cooler weather it's not unusual to find car clubs and musical acts at the castle.

Update:  Found this link on the Weird Florida site and had to share.

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