“All You Need Is A Pocketknife & Palm Trees”
Vero Beach’s favorite eccentric, Bibble Irvin, is making music in his own
Photo by Denise Ritchie
At his Vero Beach home – the Bibble Institute of Fine Art – Bibble weaves and carves an eclectic display of items from palm-frond hats to baskets, birds and tiki gods.
On a half-acre of occupied land in an unassuming neighborhood lies the Bibble Institute of Fine Art, the personal space and working studio of 56-year-old “Bibble” Irvin. The place, as he warns, is hard to miss. I first notice a row of palm trees, browned from the recent freeze, but quickly become distracted by a seemingly manic collection of objets d’art that include tiki gods carved out of chunks of cedar, a painting on plywood of Vero Beach’s two bridges, a gator head, benches fashioned out of tree parts, and bunches of authentic-looking flowers stuffed between the boots of several surviving cabbage palms.
The driveway itself is scenic, with a colorful palm tree that Bibble etched into freshly poured concrete in 2008. In it sits his abstractly colored 1994 Ford Escort, named “Bluebird,” with spin-painted hubcaps, glow-in-the-dark stars and a palm-woven iguana topping the hood that give him visibility as well as safety on the road.
I am relieved to find Bibble awaiting my arrival, ready to shepherd me deeper into his world through a colorful pair of surfboards and down a rustic walkway punctuated with handmade signs reading “Feed the Birds” and, later, “Canjos by Bibble.” A virtual constellation of bird-shaped mobiles fly overhead. Decorative tiles made by siblings Cricket and Tinky adorn the thatched “VIP Room.” I make my way to a comparatively unremarkable chair behind strings of hanging seashells and a color fest of seashell roses created by a friend in the Philippines. Hanging over the doorway behind me is a line of spin-painted vinyl records. Except for a small television set, I feel a bit like I’ve been plunked into the middle of an exotic, slightly disheveled island getaway.
Read the entire article in the May 2011 issue