Atlanta Botanical Garden's scarecrows a fright of fancy

Sure, many of the 107 scarecrows on display throughout the month of October are creatively composed of bottle caps, cans, plastic bags and found objects and have social messages promoting conservation. But the great mama of the globe also emerged through maternal crows, some holding babies, and others juggling kids and laptops and more.

“We’ve always had the eco-theme, but there were a lot of family and mom-oriented things this year,” said exhibition manager Cathleen Cooke.

Among the most memorable of mama-displays is the Georgia Executive Women’s Network’s scarecrow in a power suit holding an infant, a computer and a briefcase-turned-diaper-bag. Behind the feminine feature were several masks to illustrate a working mother’s many roles.

Nearby, Atlanta Parent Magazine’s “Supermom” dazzled in red sequins and cape, a favorite of 2-year-old Maddie Gladden.

“She likes the bumblebee [designed by the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association], but she loves Supermom. All last night she was asking: ‘Where’s Supermom?’” said Megan Gladden, Maddie’s mom. “I kept saying, ‘Right here!’”

The ABG gives general guidelines to the businesses, nonprofits, schools and families who pay $25 to enter the contest. Do make the displays weather-resistant, but don’t use them to express overtly political or controversial themes. Cooke recalled an anti-war scarecrow of year’s past that depicted a mother and child in a morbid fashion.

“It was really sad, and we try to discourage super scary scarecrows because of the small children,” she said.

Many of the lighthearted kid-friendly displays, such as this year’s Wizard of Oz set by the Home Educator Support System, are typically placed in the children’s garden, she noted.

In the design professional category, judges awarded best in show to sculptor Rick Claussen for “Gong with the Wine Horri-Belle,” a scarecrow-lady made of metal and musical elements like chimes.

“Urban Scarecrow,” a larger-than-life roach composed of plastic bags and made by the Druid Hills High School’s art club, took top honors in the non-professional category.

Scarecrows in the Garden, now in its 8th year, runs now through Halloween. The ABG’s “Moore in America” Henry Moore exhibit also ends in late October. ABG curators were careful to keep the two camps of folk and fine art in mostly separate spaces, Cooke said.

“I have the scarecrows set up so that if someone wants a shot of Henry Moore, they won’t end up with a scarecrow in the background.”

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