One of the things I plan on starting when I go out of state (or out of the country) for festivals is to document something unique during that process. I've been a user of the website 'Atlas Obscura' for years and it has given me several excellent travel experiences.
The first day I was in Austin, Texas, I had time to kill before Levitation 2023 and thought I would check out the Cathedral of Junk - crafted by Vince Hannemann. Several people had told me after the fact that Vince could be grumpy if you didn't call ahead (something I did not do). Vince welcomed me with open arms, and I spent around 45 minutes touring the property and talking to him.
According to Atlas Obscura, the structure is comprised of 60 tons of discarded items, and I believe it. This massive three-story structure incorporated so many different ephemera varying from so many different eras it was a bombardment to your senses. I've never seen so many 'things' in one area. There were many different religious symbols/art across the project, which gave it a spiritual feel.
Talking to Vince, he reiterated the idea to me about just how many wasted hours it would take to construct 10s of thousands of things used to build this cathedral. If you think about this concept in depth, it really is a profound commentary on consumption.
One of the most interesting things he told me while I was attending was regarding his permits for this structure. At one point, the city of Austin wanted to take this structure from him - due to a variety of reasons. During this time, he had lawyers overseeing his case, making sure they would be unable to foreclose before the trial concluded.
For nine months (every seven days), Vince went to downtown Austin to sign 7-day extensions for this property. Before the city approved the site, a forensics engineer had to come out to the structure to ensure it was structurally sound.
The cathedral is a testament to creative endeavours, feeling that you must create something regardless of the backlash it could garner. One of Vince's favourite things to see is the faces of kids who light up when visiting the structure and beg to stay before they leave.
The structure is 99% complete, and Vince hopes to continue working on it for as long as he can—much love to Vince for sharing so much about the structure with me. If you're in Austin - please check this out!