Farewell Flamingo Man - A Story and a Feature

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ladyhawk21's avatar
I've always been fascinated by the reportedly "tacky" pink plastic yard decor that has adorned the front lawns of everywhere from mansions to trailer parks and everywhere in between - the plastic flamingo.  I have yet to purchase a set of my own (traditionally they're sold in pairs) but one day, one day.  It thus makes me sad that today I read that the creator of this iconic piece of lawn art, Donald Featherstone, has died today at the age of 79.  

Featherstone received the Ig Nobel Art Prize, a parody prize that mocks the pomp and circumstance of its obviously more famous cousin, for the precocious piece of pink garden fodder which made people laugh and then go on to think about all manner of things.  
The classic pink flamingos were produced by Union Products, Inc, the same company who created the mold for my beloved punk yard duck - also, I've discovered created by none other than Donald Featherstone.  

The pink flamingo speaks to a history of America, as written through the care and keeping of our lawns.  When they were released in the late '50's, pink lawn decor was a hot item, and you had to have a flamingo if you were planning on keeping up with the Joneses!  As we traveled into the 1960's, the plastic flamingo began to be seen as something to be scorned from the well kept yards of the middle class as people began to abandon the questionably tacky decoration for more natural looking garden decorations.  In the 1970's however, the plastic pink lawn critters saw a resurgence with the release of the film Pink Flamingos, and they became a flashy mascot for the up and coming out gay community.  1987 saw them memorialized in American history forever as "an essential contribution to American folk art," said the then governor of Massachusetts where the molded birds call home.  While the yuppies of the '90's may have put the unflappable avians in danger by banning them from many yards with pretentious home owner's associations, they've been using the last 15 or so years to make a comeback.  Many young adults find the gaudy critters to be fun, vintage, and perhaps even a bit ironic - a way to fight back against the conformity of their parent's generation.

Further Reading:
NPR - Man Who Created The Pink Flamingo Dies
Smithsonian - The Tacky History of the Pink Flamingo
Mental Floss - A Brief History of the Plastic Pink Flamingo

And of course the feature, a tribute to some awesome plastic (and non-plastic) birds!

Flamingos by emeph  flamingo dreams part2 by khavi  Lawn in a Jar by rah-bop 
Punk flamingo by cadillacbaby  Puff the Flamingo-Dragon by MidniteSilven  flamingo by ADarkDezine
Pink Flamingos by BlackCatINK  Plastic Pink Flamingo PSD File... Just For Fun :) by annamae22 Swarm by ChaosCanine  Fabulous in Vegas by Pheoniic
Flamingo by love-my-twins  Mini 3d Origami Flamingo by ellycolor  Flamingo by ToastedBoots  Flamingo Heels by ponychops

And a bonus because of course the movie inspired by this iconic pink disaster is just as fabulous as the bird itself:
Pink Flamingos by JeffVictor  Divine by paigey
© 2015 - 2024 ladyhawk21
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ellycolor's avatar
Thank you very much for choosing my 3d origami flamingo for your journal! :D And also thank you for the information about these garden flamingos! Years ago I was wondering about the stories of those flamingos from the American's gardens, and now I know. Rest in peace, Donald Featherstone! :(