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The Amazing World of Don Parks: A Phoenix Treasure

Nestled in southwest Phoenix is the home of Don Parks. Don has been collecting stuff since 1971 and he wants to show off his amazing collection to intrepid Lomographers. If you think you're a packrat, you're in for a major surprise at Don Park's home!

Sharp-eyed Phoenix residents have seen some of the strangest things show up in the classifieds recently. Giant plaster pigs wearing sunglasses, life size aliens made of motorcycle parts, mannequins and a 25 foot tall statue of Paul Bunyan. The connection? The same name and number appeared on all the ads. Figuring that there might be an interesting story there my wife and I grabbed our Holgas and called the number. And that was how we discovered a the amazing home of Don Parks.

We pulled up to the address we were provided by Don Parks and were immediately dumbstruck. It would have been so easy to fix upon any one amazing thing like the 15 foot tall Lone Ranger statue beside the colossal Paul Bunyan but it was really how it all came together. It was as if someone dropped 5 jigsaw puzzles out on an Oriental rug. The visual sum was more than what made it up and made my little Holga 135 shiver in it’s boots. I didn’t know where to start.

As I snapped a few of the giant glasses and the piggy on his roof Don explained that he once received an old car as a gift and that after that he was hooked on collecting strange stuff. When he got back from Vietnam in 1971 he bought his current home and immediately started filling ever square inch with the amazing stuff I saw on my visit.

What really makes the Parks estate such a special place for you take your Holga or Diana is the amazing variety of colors, textures and the total visual incongruity of it all. Without even trying everything looks like a double exposure here because nothing makes sense together! It’s an amazing and beautiful sight. The other great thing is warmth and interest Mr. Parks shows in analogue photography. When he saw that my wife and I were shooting with film he just lit up.

Perched atop a sign warning me to watch out for weevils I snapped a picture of a menacing Big Boy statue leering in his backyard. Parks explained his motivation for the mysterious ads that had cropped on local classified sites. He has recently encountered some medical challenges and hopes that some of the more intriguing pieces in his collection might find new homes and defray some of his cost. As sad as that seemed to me at first I got it.

Parks’ own collection started when he was given an old car. What if someone buys the 25 foot tall Paul Bunyan towering over Weldon Ave or the giant plaster pig? It would be infectious and it wouldn’t stop as sure as the bug that drives us analogue fans to keep grabbing new cameras.

As the sunset my wife and I thanked Don and shook hands. We offered him prints if anything came out great and I asked to shoot one more brief series, portraits of him. He smiled and slipped a colander on his head and stood in front of his prize vintage motorcycle and the traffic light in the background captured the whimsy of the whole place in that final shot. Visit Don Parks Lomographers. He’s waiting for you.

Don is happy to provide tour to analogue photographers at no charge and only asks that you call ahead to schedule an appointment. His number is 480-381-6332

written by bcartwright

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