You see Sid Boyum’s concrete sculptures all over the East Side’s Schenk-Atwood neighborhood.
There’s one called “Tree Limb Faces” in a patch of public grass across from Wilson’s Bar and Grill, a geometric structure near where Williamson Street splits off into Eastwood Drive, and what looks like a man-eating mushroom near the bike path at Atwood Avenue and Jackson Street.
Perhaps the most popular piece is the chair in the shape of a reclining polar bear that graces Elmside Circle Park. Just north of the Goodman Community Center, the placement of Boyum’s hippo has more or less changed the name of Wirth Court Park to, you guessed it, hippo park.
Sure, some of the folk artist’s work is a little bit weird, but there are probably a lot of Madisonians who consider them more aesthetically pleasing than other, more prominent works of public art — say, the rock-and-steel-girder display “Timekeeper” off John Nolen Drive at Monona Terrace, or “Nails’ Tales” at Camp Randall Stadium.
Boyum died in 1991, leaving behind a house on Waubesa Street with back, front and side yards filled with his works. In 1999, his late son, Steve, donated more than a dozen of them to the city, and with the help of a city grant and lots of sweat equity, they were moved into their current locations a year later.
There are still several pieces in Boyum’s backyard and, reportedly, in his home, which still belongs to his family but doesn’t appear to have been lived in for many years.