A very big horse, a very big poop, and a very big scoop

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I got this cryptic email Mary Johnson:

"A very big horse makes for very big poop and very big poop calls for a very big scoop.

"There is such a scoop, called Paletta Grande, at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Paletta Grande is currently in use by Leonardo Da Vinci's American Horse -- at twenty-four feet high, the second largest equestrian statue in the world."

Ms. Johnson's email was a bit vague, and there wasn't anything on the Meijer Gardens site to corroborate it. Fortunately, Wikipedia has the backstory: "On September 16, 2006, Meijer Gardens presented a unique one day attraction, the never-before-exhibited Paletta Grande ("Big Scoop", "Large Shovel"). Created by world-renowned sculptures Ponzo and Ileana Siricio, Paletta Grande features the whimsical imagery of Francesco Nicola Sansovino, an exhibition that complements the history and significance of Leonardo Da Vinci's great horse 'Gran Cavallo'.

"Displayed at ground level, which allows for easy visitor interaction, the 12' x 12' scoop with a twenty-two foot handle is an awesome triumph, inspiring gasps and grins by adults and children alike. The exhibit also features Paletta Miniatura, a 1/8th scale replica interactive display."

Lo and behold, Paletta Grande did indeed exist. Here are some pictures:

Ms. Johnson provided a link to a Flickr page with more photos, including some of the construction process. She also sent a link to the Paletta Grande blog, which facetiously claims the work to be "one of the largest public scoop exhibitions in {Grand Rapids'} history." Tongue-in-cheek, but I wonder: has there been a larger poop sculpture ever in art history? Or was this ephemeral work the world's biggest poop?

8 Comments on "A very big horse, a very big poop, and a very big scoop"

SamDamnit's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points
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Brilliant! Leonardo would be proud.


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Fart Poopie's picture
j 1000+ points
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Hehehe. That's great!
The poop bags need to be a little darker, but the whole idea is very clever.

healthy 1's picture
j 1000+ points
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Very ingenious. For added visual effect, they should paint the bags darker, so they resemble poop a bit more.
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DungDaddy's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points
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The shovel and horse are not to scale with each other. Too bad.

healthy 1's picture
j 1000+ points
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Damn, good point Dung Daddy. I didn't even think to look at that. Must be a baby horse.
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Poop Shooter's picture
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Interesting. I will be at Meijer Gardens in a couple weeks. I'm wondering if someone did photo shop and put the shovel into the picture. Meijer Gardens is a very high class place with wonderful gardens and tons of class. I just don't see a poop scoop next to a multi million dollar sculpture.

Said my 6yr old son at the time, looking up, standing under the horse "Wow, he has big ball guts"


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Dung Beetle's picture
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Right you are Poop Shooter. Although the poop scoop was real, not a photo shop spoof, it was not a park sanctioned event but instead was the work of some poop loving pranksters.

Pietro Sorrento's picture
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Awesome web site! I'm so glad to have found you. Thanks to Mary Johnson for posting here and thanks to you all for your comments. Had I known about the poop report prior to creating Paletta Grande, I certainly would have consulted the experts at the #1 source on #2 business.

Some responses to your comments:

Regarding the poop color, more than once this was a topic of discussion with the sculptors Ponzo and Ileana Siricio. Initially the poop color was going to be darker, to be constructed from black plastic trash bags. Early models however looked too glossy and fake and thus we opted for the brown burlap bags instead. The burlap also gave the poop a more realistic texture and did match well with some images of actual horse poop found on the Internet. Later black spray paint was purchased to darken the burlap, alas time ran out before we could apply it.

The size of the scoop was also carefully considered. Methods of transport and installation, size of available materials, cost of available materials, artistic impression, and comparisons with other historic garden tool sculptures all played a roll in the size. Ultimately, in order to fulfill the claim as the "largest public scoop exhibit in Grand Rapids history", we had to make it huge.