Special About Peter Wolf Toth – Whispering Giants Artist

Peter Toth at his studio in April 2018. (Photo used with permission courtesy of Caroline Porsiel, Atlanta Expat Magazine)

On August 20 I had a wonderful opportunity to spend a couple of hours on the phone with American artist Peter Wolf Toth who took time to speak with me from his Florida Studio.

I had contacted Peter to get more details about this interesting man with the intent on adding a chapter about him and his Trail of the Whispering Giants into my new book, which will be available in August 2019. (Actually, the Kindle version is now available…see the link at the end of this post)

With Whispering Giant #61 in Ottawa, Illinois

If you are not familiar with the Trail of the Whispering Giants, it is a cross country collection of huge wooden sculptures created by Toth. Each is a tribute to the indigenous peoples of North America and each was done by Peter as a donation to the communities he created them in. His goal was to carve at least one in every state in the United States, which he finally accomplished in 1988 with his large sculpture in Hawaii.  Altogether, Peter has done 74 of these intricate statues.

Peter Toth works with chisel and hammer to make his Whispering Giants. (Photo by Daniel Guy, used with permission courtesy of the Cleveland Daily Banner, Cleveland, Tennessee)

When I spoke with Peter, he explained that he was born in Hungary, but came to the United States at a young age, landing in Akron with his family.  As he grew older, he grew interested in Native American culture and sought for ways to honor the indigenous people of this land.   He became a self-taught sculptor, using a hammer and chisel to work with stone. He told me that his first sculpture was in stone in La Jolla, California. He wanted to do another in stone near his home in Akron but, as he explained to me,

It was in a remote location and really not visible to many.  I wanted to make these to honor the Native Americans, so I felt that making them from local trees in all of the states would honor them best.”

The 40 foot tall Whispering Giant in Winslow, Arizona

Unlike many artists that work with wood, Peter chooses to utilize a hammer and chisel to create these giants, which range in height from 12 feet to well over 40 feet.  He has no issue with those that so their work with chainsaws, but he likes doing his statues his way.

The Whispering Giant of Las Cruces, NM which I visited in June 2019

Peter takes great care and makes great efforts to create these donated works of art to honor the Native Americans, who he feels “were victims of long abuse” and also wants to make sure that all victims of abuse and hardship are honored.

1983 version of Peter Wolf Toth’s book “Indian Giver”

In 1980 Peter published a book on Tribal Press titled Indian Giver: Gifts Of Statues For All 50 States To Honor The Indian and tells the story of the artist’s gifts to each of the 50 states to honor the Indian monuments now erected in the united States-the Trail of the Whispering Giants. The book is illustrated with both color and black and white photos of each sculpture.  Peter commented about this book.

It was a custom among the many Indian tribes that when a man was presented with a gift, he in return gave back as a gift, an object of comparable value. This was an act of honor and respect. The white man distorted this philosophy and degraded it into a selfish act-a person who gives but expects to take back something in return. Hence, the term “Indian Giver” came into our language. If that is the case, then I too am an Indian Giver because I want something in return for these monumental gifts I am sculpturing. In return, I ask that honor and understanding be shown toward the Native Americans because of the tragic fate that has befallen these noble people.

This book is available on Amazon for those interested in seeing the artist’s perspective on his work.

Chief Wasatch by Peter Toth, that is located in my hometown of Murray, UT

I am grateful to have become acquainted with Peter Wolf Toth.  I have admired his works, even though I have only been to 13 of them so far.  I will make it to more and hope to get down to his Florida studio sometime in the near future to see his work and enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean with him while we talk of the wonders of the world.

Book Cover for Book 3 – Cover Art and design by Antsy McClain

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I now have three books available about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see all of them at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Book 3 was published and available on August 24, 2019.

 

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June 2019 Road Trip: Fun, Quirky and Offbeat Things

With any road trip I take, I look for a lot of different things.  I can find the offbeat and quirky, the beautiful, the unique, the magical, the historical, the fun and more…all in one trip.  I am focused…on the big picture.

My June 2019 road trip took me over the road for nearly 6000 miles and through nine states.  I tried to stick to back roads wherever possible because that is where the greatest discoveries can be found.

In this post, I present to you some of the more unique, fun and, in some cases quirky things that I discovered along the way.  There is always something out there.

Here are few fun things…

Place Names

Welcome to Delight, Arkansas

I am always looking for fun names.  How about Delight, Turkey, Jolly, Greasy Corner?

Wildorado, Texas
That way to Turkey, Texas (I didn’t have time to take a Turkey trek.)
Greasy Corner, Arkansas. I did mosey on over to Greasy Corner only to find the corner, but no signs
Jolly, Texas. We didn’t stop, but I have been there before. Not much Jolly there but a truck stop

Business Names

Well Lookee Shop in Jemez Springs, NM

Well lookee here, there are some fun business signs to found on the road, including one of my (now) all-time favorites below.

Ever had a BBQ Sno-Cone? They have them in Dover, Tennessee
Or maybe you wanna getcha some of this instead? (BBQ that is) Naaman’s BBQ in Texarkana, Texas
A motel in Winslow, Arizona taking full advantage….
We all know what NEED to be done on a road trip. This place between Winslow and Holbrook can fulfill the need
Would you stay in a place called “It’ll Do Motel”? Can you do better? Its in Clarendon, Texas

Other Unique Signs and Things

I guess this is one place where people are delighted, even when dead? Delight, Texas

I often come across signs around towns, in shops, restaurants and such that make me want to snap a shot.

Ya Can’t Fix Stupid…especially the ones who try to take their cars where they shouldn’t go.  This sign was in a shop window in Winslow, Arizona.  Weaver’s is actually in Water Valley, Mississippi
I guess aliens need to park somewhere – at The Thing in Dragoon, Arizona
Circle N takes the No Shirt No Shoes concept to a whole new level Forrest City, Arkansas
Texans apparently don’t call 911. Saw these in a shop near El Paso, Texas
Now, this is a good spin on Desserts! Saw this at a restaurant on the top of Mt. Lemmon, near Tucson, AZ
And then you should mind your own biscuits. Found in a cafe in Clarkson, Kentucky
Speaking of restrooms, The Thing in Arizona apparently has some good uns….

Then there is the unique…

Big Pink Elephant with glasses in Clarksville, TN

Then there are the unique things out there.  The Glass-wearing elephant has a bovine friend just north of it in Kentucky

Big Cow with pink glasses in Guthrie, KY
And the cow’s pal Pink Elephant around the corner from it in Guthrie as well.
What’s a road trip without coming across a big ol’ Muffler Man?  This one is on a rooftop in downtown Gallup, New Mexico
I came face to face with this dinosaur at The Thing in Dragoon, Arizona
And saw this big metal chomper in Sedona, Arizona
Holbrook, Arizona has dozens of dinos hanging around. Here are a couple of biggies
Absurd…saw this replica of the Ghostbusters car in Bogata, Texas.  I guess in Texas they are Ghostboosters?  “Boost’n Makes Me Feel Good”
On the timezone in Clarkson, Kentucky. You decide what time it is.
You can sleep in a Wigwam in Holbrook, Arizona
You must stay within 31 MPH in Trenton, Tennessee
Watch out for the big bugs
I never take a trip without trying to see if a Peter Toth Whispering Giant can be seen. This one was in Winslow, Arizona
And this Whispering Giant was in Las Cruces, New Mexico
A church built into the rock? Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona
I can’t say I’ve been everywhere until I have been to the birthplace of Johnny Cash in Kingsland, Arkansas

And what a fine sight I was when I jumped in and photo-bombed a motocycle club standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona

Couldn’t resist jumping in with this nice Motorcycle Club from Phoenix at the famed corned in Winslow, AZ

And the Chart Topper (or should I say the Tram Topper?) is….

Watched this guy climb up on the top of the Sandia Peaks Tram in Albuquerque, NM to ride 1200′ above ground on a couple of wires for about 2 miles and 15 minutes. I was scared to death just taking his picture.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I now have three books available about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see all of them at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Book 3 was published and available on August 24, 2019.

Book Cover for Book 3 – Cover Art and design by Antsy McClain

 

 

 

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Everywhere a Sign – Some S Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Since man could walk, travel has been a part of life.  The sensational opportunity to see the world has kept most of us from being sedentary. The singular driving force is the strong desire of discovery.

For nearly 50 years I have sought the sensation, the scintillating, the stylish and the silly in my travels.  In 2018, that striving for something special continued.  I hope you will enjoy some of the S Signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Smiley, Texas

Smiling in Smiley, Texas
Smiley, Texas – didn’t find many smiles here
The Smiley Water Tower. Not even a Smiley Face on it!

I was down in Houston in February 2018 and took the grandsons on an expedition.  One of my “goal places” was Smiley, Texas.   I always love places with unique names.  The small community’s name has nothing to do with smiles.  Rather, it was named after trader and sheepherder John Smiley in the 1870s.   The town of about 450 is located at the intersection of US Highway 87 and Farm Roads 3234 and 108.  Honestly, the town looked very depressed and run down.  Probably not much to smile about.

Sunset Motel, Belle Fourche, South Dakota 

Great little place in the geographic center of the continental US!
The Sunset Motel in Belle Fourche, SD
Sunset Motel Sign on a building in downtown Belle Fourche.

When I take a long road trip, I don’t typically plan on a place to stay until late in the day.  I never know how far along I’ll get before it gets dark.  Such was the case with my visit to Belle Fourche.  After traveling west on Interstate 90 thru to Wall, SD, I decided to head northwest on US Highway 85 towards Montana and made it into Belle Fourche.  I always try to stay at a local, vintage motel on these trips nowadays, just for the experience (good or bad).  I got to Belle Fourche at sunset, just in time to get a nice shot of the sunset with the Sunset Motel 5 sign.  It was a nice stay.

Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby, Illinois

Starved Rock State Park near Oglesby, IL
A Starved Rock Carving

I made my way to Starved Rock State Park which is a huge natural park situated on the Illinois River just south of North Utica, Illinois and east of Oglesby, Illinois.  My sole purpose was to track down one of the Whispering Giant carvings by artist Peter Toth.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and hope to visit there for a more extended trip sometime in the near future.  The park has 18 small canyons and numerous waterfalls that can be seen from a number of hiking trails.

Skykomish, Washington

Welcome to Skykomish, WA

Skykomish – interesting name and splendid vistas!  I pulled into Skykomish on a beautiful April day after coming down from the snow-packed Stevens Pass on US Highway 2.  Though the altitude is only 928 feet, it feels completely like a mountain town as it is surrounded by the tall scenic mountains of the Cascade Range.  The name “Skykomish” derives from the Skykomish or Skai-whamish tribe who inhabited the area before any Europeans arrived. The town of Skykomish was officially incorporated on June 5, 1909.  The main purpose of the town was to be a fueling station for the railroad.

Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana

Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana

The old classic move marquee is slowly disappearing, so, whenever I hit a small town with a huge classic marquee, I want to grab a shot. Such was the case of the Sabine in Many, Louisiana. Built in 1947, the Sabine Theatre was acquired by the town of Many in the mid-1990’s. Like many theatres across the country, the Sabine is now typically used for live theatre, musical performances, occasional movies, and other community events.

Shiner, Texas

Welcome to Shiner, Texas
Shiner Barbeque Company

When I hear the word shiner, I usually think of a black eye.  So, on my trip to see Smiley (see above), I also went through the town of Shiner, Texas.  Located on US Highway 90, the town is now locally famous in Texas as the home of the Spoetzl Brewery,  best known for producing Shiner Bock, a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 49 states.  I didn’t visit the brewery, but learned that the town was named for Henry B. Shiner, who donated 250 acres of land in 1887 and then incorporated in 1890.

Sublime Baptist Church, Sublime, Texas

Sublime Baptist Church in Sublime, Texas

Continue East on US Highway 90 from Shiner and you’ll pass through the small community if Sublime.  Isn’t that just sublime?  There isn’t much here.  The population is about 75, and has been since the 1950s. The name was set in 1875 when a post office was established there.

Stardust Motel, Wallace, Idaho

Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho
Stardust Motel – Wallace, Idaho

Like the Sunset Motel in South Dakota, I ended up in the mountain town of Wallace, Idaho on my way west to Washington in April 2018.  I just stopped in and got a room at the Stardust.  Classic vintage motel sign drew me in.  Nice rooms, good rates and a lovely little town.

Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington

Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington

I stopped in to Olympia to have breakfast with some old friends.  We ate the Spar Cafe in downtown Olympia.  First established in the 1930s, the eatery is filled with interesting art.   Originally touted as a “fine eating and recreation parlor,”  can you still see the original bar, artwork, chandeliers, and other furnishings.  I heard that even the drinking water is served up old school—straight from its own artesian well.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

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