Not your ordinary trimmings HOLIDZE

December 23, 1991|By Lynn Williams

The holidays bring out the grinch in some, the elf in others. Each day from now 'til Wednesday, we'll share a Christmas thought or tip -- this one's about a couple who is simply wild about Christmas creations.

Diane Allen and Dave Otto are both crazy about Christmas; she remembers an idyllic country childhood of cookie-baking and Christmas tree-cutting, while he cherishes all sorts of happy seasonal rituals.

But the couple, who have their own art T-shirt company, Clothes for Primates, and have furnished their house as a sort of mini-rainforest for their six pet parrots, aren't exactly in the mainstream, holiday decorating-wise. The sculptural creations that deck their Parkville house announce to the quiet neighborhood that, yes, "artists live here."

The first of the sculptures to make its appearance, in 1988, was the rakish Santa head that hangs from the front porch. The Santa was once a "sinister-looking" papier-mache head that sculptor Wayne Koscinski made for a Sowebohemia Festival parade and left on the couple's doorstep as a surprise. Fitted with a jollier (but still gnomish) Santa face in more durable burlap-mache, it has become a neighborhood fixture.

He was followed in short order by an angel -- once a mannequin who, painted green and dressed in an assortment of masks, presided over many a party -- which gazes down beatifically from an attic window. Then, most recently, by a 8 1/2 -foot burlap-mache angel which plays a horn on the front lawn.

Their labor-intensive creations, one of which was dubbed "The Santa Head That Ate Christmas," have put occasional stress on their home-life, Ms. Allen admits. But the couple is hardly deterred. "We hope to have another angel up next year," she says. "Dave wants to start doing some mechanical things. There's a lot of potential there."

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