25 June 2010

American Gothic revisited

Throughout DinoLand U.S.A., in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll hear a lot about a pair of its more famous residents, Chester and Hester. While their presence can be felt throughout the area, it is highly unlikely that guests would ever run across the pair of fossil hunters and tourist trap creators. However, there are plenty of references to the couple throughout the land, such as the poster featured here.

Entitled American Gothic Revisited, the photograph actually comes from a touring exhibit of the same name, the image of the stoic Chester and Hester mirrors Grant Wood’s 1930 painting and can be found hanging on the walls of Restaurantosaurus. This is not the first parody of the pastoral American Gothic farmer and his wife, the original has been parodied numerous times, including by Kermit and Miss Piggy. This photograph, however, lists the couple as paleontologists/shopkeepers and was taken in 1998.

Chester and Hester were the proprietors of a gas station along route 498 in central Florida. The sleepy community known primarily for its fishing was overrun overnight once fossils were discovered. Seeing the newfound popularity as an opportunity, rather than an inconvenience, and slowly began the process of adding to their roadside attraction.

To wrap things up, we’ll head back to the American Gothic Revisited poster, where there are a few elements worthy of being examined more closely. For starters, an identical picture of the couple can be found in their one-time gas station, known lovingly known as Dinosaur Treasures. What makes the touring exhibit of Southeastern American photographs intriguing, is that it is sponsored by a grant from The Dino Institute, an organization that has long considered Chester and Hester, and their gaudy displays and rides, to be a thorn in their academic side.

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