Frontier Village

San Jose Art Commission, Edenvale Park, 2007

This project takes place in a park in the city of San Jose California that from 1960 to 1980 was the site of an eccentric western-themed amusement park called Frontier Village (think the movie West World before the robots went crazy). The current public park has no trace of any of the buildings or history of the former family-run amusement park. There is however an extremely active group of former employees and residents who come to the park yearly to reenact some of the old gunfights and display their meticulous and well organized collections of memorabilia.

The park has shifted from a site for staging a fantasy of the West to a site that embodies the new demographic reality of the West—condos and tract housing, a mix of middle class Latinos, African Americans and whites. Five birdhouses were built as exact replicas of some of the old Frontier Village amusements and placed atop ten-foot poles in the exact spots where the original attractions once stood. They commemorate both a real and fictional history of that site. Each building was designed with a local ornithologist to attract and house a local species of birds, thus re-inhabiting these historic models and foregrounding the constant yet often invisible aviary ecosystem that has changed little in the past 200 years. Since the birdhouses are made of wood, they will slowly, over time, weather and use, fall apart. 

Special Thanks to:

Vince Duke for the birdhouse construction.

Ted Pierce for all the ornithological research

Shaughnessy McGehee, Eugene Gilbert, Matthew Lindstedt and Tim from the Frontier Village organization for images and research material.