Man Dressed as Creepy ‘Elf on the Shelf’ Perches on Public Artworks

You have to see it to believe it.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Alexander Liberman's The Way in Laumeier Park, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.
Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Alexander Liberman's The Way in Laumeier Park, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

A beloved children’s book character has come to life in St. Louis, where the Elf on the Shelf has been spotted climbing a number of public artworks, reports Fox 2, a local newstation. Pat Waterkotte, in a bid to bring a little holiday cheer to family and friends, has crisscrossed the city in full elf attire, accompanied by photographer Dawn Boly.

The Elf on the Shelf has become a popular Christmas tradition since the publication of a 2005 children’s book about an elf that visits children before the holidays in order to report back to Santa Claus about their behavior. Many parents now have a small elf doll that they will arrange in various poses for their children’s enjoyment in the lead-up to Christmas.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Igor Mitoraj's <em>Ero Bendato (Eros Bound)</em>. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Igor Mitoraj’s Ero Bendato (Eros Bound).
Photo: Dawn Boly.

 

Waterkotte’s photos take the idea to the next level, as the Creepy Elf scales popular landmarks around St. Louis, including a number of works at the City Garden sculpture park. Over the last three years, he’s become something of a local sensation for his character, who friends have dubbed “the creepy elf.”

Every day, Waterkotte posts a new photo of Creepy Elf’s latest hijinks, which might find him perched up high on artworks by the likes of Keith Haring and John Henry. “They can’t wait to make up the next morning to see where the elf is going to be next,” he told artnet News in a phone interview. The project is his way to “bring that Christmas joy to people’s lives.”

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with a security guard. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with a security guard.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

(Despite his creepy monniker, Waterkotte has nothing on the Boston area man who is advertising his “Elf on the Shelf” services on Craigslist, charging $100 an hour to perch on the mantlepiece during your Christmas party.)

All of this year’s photographs were taken on a single day, and—surprisingly—with help from a few new friends. “I’ve actually even had security guards come out and want to take their picture taken with me,” Waterkotte said.

He’s also mindful of safety and has never had an accident, saying, “I know my limits.”

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with John Henry's Treemonisha. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with John Henry’s Treemonisha.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Waterkotte says his favorite sculpture in the city is probably the statue of the Cardinals star Stan Musial in front of Busch Stadium, although “I don’t know if you’d call that artwork.” He’s also partial to his current profile picture, in which Creepy Elf seems impossibly positioned halfway up Henry‘s 81-foot-tall Treemonisha.

“I’m having fun doing it, by seeing people smile,” said Waterkotte. “How many 48-year-old men are running around in an elf costume?”

See more photos of the Creepy Elf with some of St. Louis’s public art below:

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Keith Haring's Untitled (Ringed Figure) in City Garden, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Keith Haring’s Untitled (Ringed Figure) in City Garden, St. Louis.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with the Pink Elephant from the now shuttered Pink Elephant Batting Cage & Mini Golf in Fenton, Missouri. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with the Pink Elephant from the now shuttered Pink Elephant Batting Cage & Mini Golf in Fenton, Missouri.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Catherine Magel's Rabbit Earth in Strauss Park, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Catherine Magel’s Rabbit Earth in Strauss Park, St. Louis.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Tony Tasset's Eye in Laumeier Park, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Tony Tasset’s Eye in Laumeier Park, St. Louis.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf at the Imperial Bowling Alley in Imperial, Missouri. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf at the Imperial Bowling Alley in Imperial, Missouri.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Barry Flanagan's Nijinski Hare. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Barry Flanagan’s Nijinski Hare.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Jim Dine's Big White Gloves, Big Four Wheels in Garden Park, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Jim Dine’s Big White Gloves, Big Four Wheels in Garden Park, St. Louis.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Marie Watt's Earthmover in Laumeier Park, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Marie Watt’s Earthmover in Laumeier Park, St. Louis.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf at the City Museum in St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf at the City Museum in St. Louis.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Vito Acconci's Face of the Earth #3 in Laumeier Park, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Vito Acconci’s Face of the Earth #3 in Laumeier Park, St. Louis.
Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Bernard Williams's Empire Flight in Laumeier Park, St. Louis. Photo: Dawn Boly.

Pat Waterkotte as the Creepy Elf with Bernard Williams’s Empire Flight in Laumeier Park, St. Louis.
Photo: Dawn Boly.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics