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Sunday April 20, 2014
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Minerva and Cthulhu

 

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Look no further than Ann Arbor's Hollywood Park neighborhood. Off a dirt road, in an open lot surrounded by a canopy of trees, you'll find the majestic ten-foot-tall Fountain of Minerva, intricately incorporating the composition of Rome's Trevi and Triton fountains, the play of water plumes at Lake Como's Villa d'Este, and the dynamic posture of the neoclassical Diane d'Anet at the Louvre.

Near the porch of the yellow brick suburban house next door, a nearly eight-foot statue of a bearded, three-hoofed, octopus-armed Cthulhu, squid-like tentacles protruding from his cloak, stands sentry on a platform, his faux patina nearly blending in with the nearby arborvitae. Poised and ready to pounce from his place on the porch, a small dragon with a hammerhead, serpentine neck, carved scales, and spinelike protrusions displays his fangs.

"They're real crime deterrents," jokes Kevin Nickerson, the owner of the home and its unusual art. "Cthulhu alone would scare the hell out of any intruder." His wife, Jennifer, laughs and says that Cthulhu reminds her of the Davy Jones character in Pirates of the Caribbean.

How and why did these seemingly ordinary suburbanites, a software programmer and quality assurance technician, acquire a science-fiction deity, a dragon, and a monumental fountain as lawn ornaments, rather than a common birdbath or garden gnomes?

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