The five statues, 8-ft. likenesses of the ancient figures that dot Easter Island in the South Pacific, overlook Highway 232 in central Kansas, between Lucas and Wilson. They are the work of artist and auto-body painter Butch Mauer, 47, who created them in his basement. Which still leaves the big question: Why? "It was for the contrast—something Polynesian in a rolling plains landscape," he says.
Inspired by a book on Easter Island that his wife, Melissa, gave him, Mauer made molds of Styrofoam and auto-body filler, then fashioned the faces from fiberglass. One snag: He had to saw the nose off the prototype to get it out of his house. The project, which Melissa, 39, says he did "just for art's sake," cost $2,000. The Mauer kids, Katie, 12, and Jake, 10, are fans. "I think they're cool," says Katie. So does Rosslyn Schultz, director of Grassroots Art Center, the sponsor of the display, which runs until September. Still, she admits some locals are baffled. "You can see people slowing down to look," she says. "Not everyone knows they're Easter Island heads. We've had people who thought they were outhouses."