Flower HouseChris Vo (1964 - 2021), Nick Malusky
Lakewood Heights Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio, 44107, United States
About the Artist/Site
Chris Vo fled Ho Chi Minh City as a refugee some thirty years ago, escaping the Communist mantle under which he had lived until that time. He found his way to Cleveland, and in 2011 purchased this typical ranch-style home on Cleveland’s border with Lakewood. Little by little, he began adding decorations: hundreds of plastic flowers – from which came the public moniker for his home – but also figurative and animal sculptures, including a Virgin Mary, a swan, and more.
Vo comments that “[t]his house represents America. This house represents freedom,” and he explicitly notes that he is decorating it to honor those who lost their lives trying to escape communism, like his nephew. “Our ancestors had to give up everything and some lost their lives to come to this land called America to have freedom and equal opportunity,” he writes. “My nephew and many people I know died trying to make it here; that is why I am so lucky to have made it in America, to LIVE the American dream by honoring those who have died trying to make it to this country and never could. I dedicated my flowers to all the ones who died along the way trying to come to America. Americans are known all over the world for being kindest, most helpful people with the biggest hearts. 50 percent of our decorations are from the generous donations from people everywhere, who keep dropping them off at our house, to join me in making America beautiful. After 25 years of being here, I still believe now that Americans are every bit as wonderful. I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who dropped off decorations for us without names.”
However, many of his neighbors were not pleased with the decorations, and called for the city council to force he and Malusky to remove them, citing, in particular, that some of the artificial flowers and decorations are installed at a level that interferes with view-lines on the corner stop (there are no records of any accidents at this intersection attributable to this supposed obstruction). Vo has indicated that he removed the articulated concerns, but charged that this was more about the fact that he and his partner are gay, rather than about the home’s decorations. There are no municipal laws that address an overabundance of decorations in Cleveland.
As of this writing, one of the neighbors who had been so vociferously opposed to the decorations has apologized to Vo and Malusky, and the future of the site now appears to be stable and protected.
Update, May 2018: In early April 2018 the pair split up, and all of the decorations on the house have been removed, so the art environment no longer exists.
~Jo Farb Hernández
Update, January 2022: Chris Vo was found murdered in his home on December 26, 2021. Though his art environment had been dismantled in 2018 by a reality show producer claiming to make "improvements" to the property, Vo had been in the process of adding decorative elements back to the exterior of his home before his death.
Map & Site Information
Lakewood Heights Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio, 44107 us
Latitude/Longitude: 41.4700132 / -81.7940129
Mitiwanga , Ohio