“We did it to piss off the neighbors,” deadpans Kevin. In truth, he and Jennifer genuinely like their neighbors, and their neighbors often express their appreciation for the Nickersons’ unusual art as they stroll by. Kevin notes that the occasional drivers in the bucolic neighborhood often come to a halt, then make queries and take photos.
Kevin met Tomak Julian Baksik, the creator of all three pieces, through the Society for Creative Anachronism. Mutual interests in science fiction and fantasy—and Kevin’s appreciation for Baksik’s art—cemented their friendship and inspired Kevin to buy the dragon and then to fund the creation and installation of Cthulhu in 2002.
Baksik studied physics and art at the U-M in the late 1980s. His abiding love for neoclassical art and sculpture didn’t fit in well there. “The art school and I parted ways after three years because of differing perspectives,” he recalls. “Their focus on contemporary progressive art—I think it’s ugly—clashed with my belief that art should be beautiful. I don’t like today’s art, and believe art has been going downhill for 400 years. Bernini is my hero.”
After leaving school, Baksik founded NetherCraft Statuary. Today, in a pole barn on his property in Southfield, he and his team create statuary, stained glass, bronze art pieces, and architectural panels and products in sci-fi and fantasy styles, including Steampunk, Panelstone, Haunting, and Egyptian Tomb.