Axel Erlandson. The Telephone Booth. Planted 1950, died c. 1992. Woven poplar trees. Permanent Collection of the American Visionary Art Museum, gift of Mark Primack. Three photos of The Telephone Booth by J. Rachel Gustafson
:: Axel Erlandson was a farmer. He was born in the early 1880s and was influenced to 'sculpt' living trees after finding a natural fusion, or graft, between two sycamore trees. He would go on to craft more than 30 trees into patterns, each serving special functions – a birdcage, spiral staircases, and many others. He opened his own "Tree Circus" as a roadside attraction in 1947.The Telephone Booth was part of Erlandson's "Circus" and was brought to the opening of the AVAM in 1995.
"It's wonderful to be in the company of very idealistic people – not so much on the fringe, but they know why they are getting up every morning. They have been working for 40 years building that Garden of Eden in the backyard. To be immersed in the energy of someone who is doing it [making art] not to please somebody else or to get into a show. To be with people who are so sincere about what has tumbled out of them. Sometimes is very sweet to see. They are as amazed as we are at their own production. In our opening we had quotes from visionary artists on the walls and they would say things like, 'Can you believe I have done all this?'" - AVAM Founder and Director Rebecca Alban Hoffberger