Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Neosho and beyond

Time flies....finally taking a minute to tell you about a place we went to while visiting Neosho, WI. We went there for a wedding and a couple days after I requested that we take a drive to Nick Engelbert's homestead, and immigrant from Austria, where he mosaic'd his house and made garden sculptures. I have always been drawn to this type of work and love a book called "Fantasy Worlds"
I'd like to go to Barcelona, Spain to see Antoni Gaudi's work. Just amazing.

So we set out on our way to one of the nearest sites of mosaic/grotto type of homes. The nearest being 2 hours away. Many of the sculptures on the grounds are reproductions. The originals were breaking down and now reside at the Kohler Foundation. In 1961 Nick Engelbert died after a year of cancer, he had lived in the home for almost 30 years. He moved to his daughter's and son's-in-law in Maryland to live out that last year. 10 years prior to his death he took to painting on a regular basis, a very naive folk art style and pieces of these are displayed in the home and also at the Kohler Foundation. 

Here are some of the pictures we took while there:

Unfortunately, a part that no longer exists are columns with arches that were the beginning of his project. There were pictures of it on display and it would have been so cool if they were still there. They were part of the entrance to the grounds. 

The exterior is cement and rocks and the porch is a mix of rocks and shards of ceramic dishes, metal pieces, broken beer bottles and other trinkets.

The entrance of the grounds is this guy and his monkey, he takes the donations.

Original pieces displayed inside the house

this is part of Paul Bunyan that is no longer on the grounds but some pieces of the sculpture remain. Paul, himself, was 11' tall.

This art is one of two similar paintings done on a wall right before Nick moved from his home. 

Nick's wife was an avid gardener, which is one reason why he began these mosaic sculptures. Now, more gardens exist around each sculpture to help protect them from weather. 

When we arrived, a newly built large shed that is used for art classes was in progress of being mosiac'd by volunteers -- we were invited to join in. I put in a few shards and R's girls spent some time leaving their mark.

It was a nice afternoon, I'm glad I was able to convince the family to take this road really didn't take too much arm twisting as we all enjoy creativity. We had some trouble with cameras, though. R's sister's camera that we borrowed, stopped working, we thought it might be batteries. R went into the small town and bought some new ones. It wasn't the batteries. As I fiddled with it, the zoom lens opened, and then wouldn't close, and stayed like that. We couldn't take pictures but we could review pictures. I had my camera with me, just in case it might give me a break and work. It did for a few snaps and then did the purple haze thing again. So, like any reasonable camera owner would do, I threw it to the ground. Sometimes slapping it on my hand would jostle things to a working position but that wasn't happening....what else was a girl to do except throw it on the grass? After a couple times of doing this, it finally worked again and I was able to take a few pictures, as seen above. I was also able to get some of this drive in diner "we HAD to go to" due to a certain young lady's experience a few years back:

Back in the day (it's been around for 40-50 years) the waitresses wore roller skates and brought your food out to you on a tray that attached to your car window. They still have the trays but now they wear sneakers. Because it was a bit warm out, we chose to sit at a picnic table.

When I was a kid we had an A&W about 20 minutes from us and Mom and Dad would take us there for burgers and we ALWAYS got a root beer float. At Kilties we had the burger, onion rings and a chocolate swirl custard (it's not called ice cream I believe because of the whole milk and whole other ingredients) Later that day, I regretted that I chose to have a Kiltie lunch, I'm not used to eating that way and my stomach wasn't happy about my choices. But, it was a fun experience.

Next adventure -- Nantucket, MA.


  1. Fantastic photos!!! Thanks for sharing them. I'm going to get to that house that I told you about over by Brooksby Farm in Peabody, Ma, for some pictures. As kids we found it simply fascinating, I didn't realize it was an unusual form of artwork. Hope they won't mind me taking pictures of their house!

  2. OH! I love this! How cool...
    ya know I have SEVERAL containers FULL of broken plates, cups, vases etc. (thanks to my kitties) and I was just reading an article about a woman who creates mosaic garden sculptures!
    SEE! I knew there was a reason to hang on to that broken junk!


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