Don Featherstone, who became famous for creating the pink plastic lawn flamingo - the ultimate symbol of American lawn kitsch - died Monday, June 22, 2015 at the age of 79.
Featherstone, who studied art at the Worcester Art Museum, created the ornamental flamingo in 1957 for plastics company Union Products Inc., of Leominster, Mass., modeling it after photos of the birds he saw in National Geographic. "People say they're tacky, but all great art began as tacky," Featherstone said in a 1997 interview.
Here, Featherstone poses surrounded by many of the plastic creatures at Union Products Inc., June 25, 1998.
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Pink plastic flamingos are on display at the National Plastics Center and Museum in Leominster, Massachusetts.
Featherstone kept 57 plastic flamingos on his own front lawn, symbolizing the year he created the plastic birds.
Credit: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP
Don Featherstone poses with his wife Nancy while being honored as a past recipient during a performance at the Ig Nobel Art Prize ceremony at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 20, 2012. Featherstone was awarded the Ig Nobel Art Prize in 1996 for his Pink Flamingo.
Featherstone and his wife dressed alike for over 35 years.
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In 1957, straight out of Worcester Art Museum, Featherstone was given a job designing three-dimensional plastic animals for Union Products Inc. He designed more than 750 plastic animals for the company.
It was the kitschy, bright Pink Flamingo that caught the public's fancy and became synonymous with suburban American lawns.
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And many an urban area as well.
Don Featherstone became president of Union Products Inc. in 1996 and stayed at the helm till his retirement in 2000.
A flock of plastic Pink Flamingos blanket the front yard of a home in Key Biscayne, Florida.
The brightly colored plastic birds seemed particularly well suited for the Florida sunshine and lifestyle.
The flamingos are usually sold in pairs with one bending over looking for food and the other holding his head high.
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A plastic Pink Flamingo appears to be lost in the snow at Summit Station on the Glacial Ice Sheet, Greenland.
When Union Products Inc. closed in November 2006 production of the Pink Flamingo abruptly stopped. It wasn't until 2010 when Cado Products Inc. purchased the copyrights and plastic molds for the plastic bird that production came back to life for the plastic lawn ornaments.
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The trained painter, sculptor and artist modeled the birds after those in he saw in National Geographic magazine, not having access to real ones. Some may call the Pink Flamingo tacky or kitschy, but others call Don Featherstone's creation art.
Don Featherstone died June 21, 2015 at the age of 79 from Lewy body disease, a type of dementia in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.