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Video: Flower Man's Vision

The Flower Man

Houston, Texas

Cleveland Turner passed away in a Houston nursing home during the 2013 Thanksgiving weekend. Flower Man fans are saddened by the loss, though we're betting they can't help but smile when recalling visits with this charming and hospitable folk artist at his flower and scrap art-augmented home. Here's a bit of video from our 2002 visit to Cleveland's rented house (he subsequently found more permanent digs in the neighborhood to transform, Flower Man-style).

Video Transcript

Flower Man's Vision (2002)

RA: Why did you start?

Cleveland Turner: Well, it's a long story. I had a vision -- uh, um, a smart vision?

This was when I was coming off the Skid Row, I'd used to be on the Skid Row for 17 years, sleeping in old empty housing, under the bridge and then eating out of Church's Chicken dumpsters and Popeye's, you know whenever I feel like eating not that much, but whenever wino like me don't eat that much and that's what's likely killed me.

So a white lady found me over on the 3 day called Chinnabury Street, laid out for dead. So she called the ambulance and had me picked up and sent to the hospital so in that by staying in there five weeks, I couldn't walk you know.

I was in a wheelchair, and those nurses was taking me about the wheelchair, you know, walkin' me two or three steps till I get my order back up my step back in order, and so about, about three days before they dismissed me out the hospital I had this vision. And it was just junk, you know, what the like a whirlwind, going round and round, and it was just going up so high, pretty pretty pretty, you know. And it was just going back down to junk. So that's what I tried to make that vision my head and this is far as I got on it.

That's all I do is go ride in ditches and things and pick up junk. Now nothing new, nothing no good, junk, that's where I'm coming from.

RA: What do you think about people coming by to look at...

Cleveland: Oh, that's great !

RA: You like it.

Cleveland: That's just like in heaven to me, really. What I call heaven, aha, it's just like in heaven, because sometimes I have to pinch myself and see if this this little old wino, you know, that used to eat out the garbage cans and things, and I have had 203 peoples here at one time. One big Greyhound other here and the other Greyhound bus was over there. That's the largest. I ain't counting the cars, I get from 5-80 peoples a day huh huh

RA: Where do they come from?

Cleveland: They come from all over they come from all over. I had eight people were here, from what's that country you got over there?

RA: Canada?

Cleveland: London.

RA: England.

Cleveland: Eight people. Yeah, and they rented one of these cars they got to Houston in that car the tail end was right here and the back was way down yonder. Bacon lichen what you call it, premoline, verbaline, you know when you come off the airport you can rent one of these long cars.

RA: Oh, limousine!

Cleveland: Limousine! That's what they was in. Lonnnng thang. Yeah.

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