Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Glass Grotto, Cataract, Wisconsin

A few summers ago I visited the Glass Grotto near Cataract, Wisconsin.

Built by Matilda and Paul Wegner between 1929 and 1942, the Grotto was inspired by a trip the Wegners took to the Dickeyville Shrine in the far southwestern corner of the state. (I have yet to visit Dickeyville -- maybe during the summer of 2009. Update: I visited in 2010. Here is the evidence.)

Small chapel with inlaid images of churches on either side of the door
The Glass Chapel is one of the two largest and best-known works on the site. It's about 12 x 14 feet or so, covered in green glass.

Structure decorated with barber-pole-like stripes made of glass
The Peace Monument is another of the best-known works. This photo is shot from the top of the embankment along the road that runs beside the sculpture park. I guess people used to have weddings here, or sometimes someone would just preach, standing up on the Monument, while the congregants sat on the embankment.

White glass arch that says HOME
I like the smaller pieces on the site. The fence that surrounds it is itself a work of art, including this arch.

A circular glass bullseye
Detail from one of the fence posts.

An ocean liner decorated with glass
After the fence, this was the first piece the Wegners created.

American flag made out of red, white and blue glass
A personal favorite. The weathering, on top of the original rough-hewn nature of the work, is so evocative of endurance.

More on the Glass Grotto can be found on the Kohler Foundation site.

Directions to the site.


Keshalyi said...

I used to live in Cuba City, about 15 minutes from Dickeyville (we shared a school district, my best friend lived there). I saw the Dickeyville grotto, catholics from some distance would come to see it, and talk about hwo beautiful or inspirational it was. It was funny, because most of the locals seemed to think it was kind of kitschy and embarrasing, as far as I could tell. Maybe that's just the kids, sinceI was in High School at the time.

Daughter Number Three said...

It's funny how we can be embarrassed by the too local, the too familiar, and don't appreciate the wonders in our midst.