Neighbors of Park City

Local artist revolutionizes home decor with unconventional materials

At home with Zafod Beatlebrox

By: Kirsten Kohlwey, Neighbors of Park City

With gorgeous mountain landscape views, Zafod Beatlebrox’s well-hidden Brown’s Canyon property is reminiscent of Antoni Gaudí’s Barcelona homes. While functional, it stands as a work of art.

I thought I would be visiting a metal artist, but Zafod is so much more. He calls himself a Sculptor-at-Large. Growing up in Virginia, he admired the 10-acre farm his grandparents owned in Chesterfield County. After high school, he spent a year studying electronics design at a technical college in Atlanta, another two years at Eastern Nazarene College in Boston, and five more years working small renovation jobs in Boston. This is where he learned about plaster.  

In 1978, due to the poor economy, he moved to Utah and bought a 40-acre parcel of land in Brown’s Canyon. The first year in the house, a dream gave him the idea for an initial piece of art for his personal sculpture garden: “It’s an alien lifeform holding an eyeball watching Park City,” he describes.

Photo: Kirsten Kohlwey

As I enter Zafod’s home, where he lives with his wife, Lola, I am greeted by walls of what looks like shimmering watercolor but are, in fact, yellow, blue, and green dyed plaster—a technique Zafod pioneered. The floors are created from large slices of a Brown’s Canyon boulder, the kitchen cabinet panels were designed using old hubcaps and crushed glass, and his staircase railings are complete with feet and fanciful curves. Every time I turn a corner, a new work of art appears. 

His stone carving “Flower of Love” rests on a nightstand, the stained glass “Bird of Paradise” adds color to a window, a painting of a woman decorates the inside of a bathroom door, and the master bedroom features a functional throne. 

Much of Zafod’s art uses objects he was gifted, such as the mortar shell he received from Ronald John Joseph Reagan, who was abandoned at a Catholic orphanage in Chicago as a young child. With brass and the mortar shell, he created the piece “How Long Will our Fears Burn our Souls,” which transports you to a battlezone with its darkened hand reaching out from the mortar shell.

While his home is as artsy as any of his pieces, Zafod is really known for his functional art vehicles, projects that were born from his first visit to Burning Man in 1998. Since then, Zafod has attended the event a total of 23 times. Zafod’s best-known art vehicles are the Pilot Fish and the Frog Prince, both seen at the Fourth of July parades in Park City, Burning Man, and UAAs Illuminate in Salt Lake City. The Frog Prince was included in a recent movie shoot for a soon-to-be-completed Dutch Indie movie. 

Zafod Beatlebrox in his home. Photo: Kirsten Kohlwey

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