Friday, August 12, 2011

Return to the Glass Grotto

By now, I've seen almost every outsider artist environment in Wisconsin, so it must be time to start revisiting them. A few weeks ago I was nearby the Wegner's Glass Grotto in Cataract, so I went by for a visit to the isolated, small plot that was created by Matilda and Paul Wegner between 1929 and 1942.

My previous visit left me with impressions of the chapel, ship and some of the other structures. This time, I found myself focusing on details.

I love the use of painted lead pipes to represent the big vent pipes you see on the decks of large passenger ships.

Folk art ship with white pipes with corners on the deck
A green mixing bowl juts out above an arch:

Green ceramic bowl embedded in a sculpture
Depression-era pressed glass, surrounded by broken glass and stones:

Brown pressed-glass plate embedded in a sculpture
One of the best elements throughout is the use of marbles:

Circular elements with a yellow and orange marble

Circular elements with a blue on blue swirly marble

Circle of marbles around a larger marble, multicolored
The Wegners were clearly obsessed with stars, which they liked to place point-down:

Five-pointed black star with point down

Multicolored five-pointed star, point down, with orange center
Except when they were in a circle:

Black circle with white center and amber star inside, the word AMERICAN lettered around the upper arc
There were a couple of animals that had been sculpted out of concrete, but not covered with the usual glass and stone coverings. I found this chagrined four-footer the most compelling:

Concrete animal with blue marbles for eyes

Visit the Glass Grotto if you're ever in the vicinity of La Crosse or Tomah, Wisconsin.

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