Lou “Paz” Pazienza is an artist. He prefers grass to paint, a yard to a canvas and a lawnmower to a brush.
Pazienza’s creations, apart from a wide range of flowers and the “frame” of the tableau defined by a sidewalk, driveway and garden title, revolve around the lawn of a Woodview Drive house in Westwood plat between Scituate Avenue and Plainfield Street.
By no stretch is it a big piece of property like the outfield at Fenway Park, where precision mowing leaves an ornamental patchwork of green. Pazienza’s creations are not nearly on that scale, but one could reason they are far more designed and thought out.
Take the one he’s working on this week in celebration of Flag Day – that’s June 14 for those who haven’t checked the calendar. To celebrate the day, Pazienza chose to diagonally stripe the lawn and then place white stars he had cut out at the end of each stripe.
Nothing is happenstance. The angle of the stripes and the positioning of the stars is worked out on graph paper and carefully measured. Long before pulling the cord on the mower, Pazienza has staked out to within inches each row to cut. The direction in which a row is cut determines whether it looks lighter or darker from the one next to it. The grass is evenly cut to the same height, but it’s the direction in which it is angled that determines whether it reflects light, Pazienza explains.
He’s created a giant checkerboard along with pieces. He’s planning on mowing a target that will involve some unique cutting techniques along with a mammoth arrow he’ll craft. A spiral maze is also on his drawing board.
Surely important to Pazienza is being the first to do something.
“I came up with the ideas. Nobody is doing anything like this,” he says while shuffling through designs, all of them on graph paper and carefully keyed. He used computer graphics programs for most of his work.
Pazienza attended the Berklee School of Music and the Rhode Island School of Electronics. In March of 1976, he opened his own DJ business, but unlike most of the DJs at the time, Pazienza went on the road to transform church halls, school gyms and other meeting places into dance halls. He not only played music but also staged shows.
“It turned into disco tech,” he says. He had a bubble machine, a fog machine and an explosion machine that was part of his finale. He also put music to colors with the high notes flashing blue and the lower ones in red.
It was not something other DJs were doing at the time and he liked it that way.
He’s seen carefully cut grass to render patterns, but nothing as elaborate as his creations. To the untrained eye, it can look to be no more than a well maintained lawn with a few ornaments – stars for the Flag Day stars and stripes. That’s until Pazienza explains the precision of it all. Take, for example, the 4-foot-wide section of grass between the curb and the sidewalk. It could be easily trimmed. Run the mower up and back and it would be done in a couple of minutes. But to extend the stripes from the lawn they need to be cut on the same angle and direction. To do that, he built a ramp enabling him to cut each stripe without stopping for the curb.
His attention to detail doesn’t stop with the lawn. He’s extended it to the garden. He keeps a record of the flowers planted with a layout. He names the species – the Star of Persia Allium, Gladiator Allium and Winky Columbine to name a few.
The lawn is really his canvas, and he’s planned everything for Flag Day. Monday night’s rain flattened the display so he’ll have to run the mower again. When he does, he’ll make a slight adjustment to realign one of the stripes.
Pazienza is not looking to draw admirers to his creations and is reluctant to give an address. It’s a quiet neighborhood tucked away from traffic. But if you happen to be on Woodview this Flag Day, keep an eye for the stars and stripes.