Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Kohler Art Preserve: Restrooms

When you're on the way to Door County and you're a fan of outsider artists and environment-builders, it's usually time for a trip to the John Michael Kohler Art Center. But this year, they've just recently opened a new building called the Art Preserve to house and present their permanent collection, so instead that's where we went.

I'll post about the art in the next few days. Today's post is about the restrooms.

Yes, the restrooms. As you may remember, the restrooms at the original JMKAC are the best ones in the U.S. because they're designed by ceramic artists. So it's not a surprise that the two restrooms on the first and third floors at the new museum are also works of art. (The two single-occupancy restrooms on the second floor are done in minimalist white ceramics.)

I know my photos don't do these rooms justice, so you will have to make a visit (and to see the art, and the JKMAC as well... and the rest of Sheboygan... and while you're there, take a trip up to Two Rivers to the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, too!).

First floor

Beth Lipman, Wisconsin: "Wild Madder." Lipman's tiles portray 1,280 plant species found in Sheboygan County, meant both to locate her work and to speak to the loss of species to climate change.

Michelle Grabner, Wisconsin: "Patterns and Practicalities." According to the accompanying panel, Grabner is commenting on the "unseen labor of domesticity" with walls that invite touch. It is an "exploration of a crocheted granny-square blanket."

I should have gotten more pictures of this one!

Third floor

Two Pennsylvania artists, Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck, collaborated on both restrooms, and the rooms share a single title: "Listen, the Snow Is Falling." The reference is more obvious in room 1. For room 2, the accompanying card refers to the artists' inspiration from Emery Blagdon's The Healing Machine, and I think that's pretty evident.

Room 1

Yes, that's a miniature ladder leading up to the sink.

Room 2

Oh, and it wouldn't be eastern Wisconsin if there wasn't a sign about a bubbler, now would it?

I wish I had spent more time studying the restrooms, but part of the beauty of these places is that they will be there whenever you return, so you can look at them again and discover new details.


Past posts about the JMKAC and outsider artists connected to it:

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein at the Kohler Arts Center (November 2017

Outsider art, 2012 (August 2012) 

Concrete Wisconsin (November 2010)

Details of Dickeyville (April 2010)

Rocks and Glass at the Rudolph Grotto (November 2009)

The Glass Grotto in Cataract, Wisconsin (October 2008)

Outsider artists in Sheboygan (July 2008)

Herman Rusch's Prairie Moon (July 2008)


Bill Lindeke said...

wow cool thanks for sharing! will have to stop there someday

Michael Leddy said...

Amazing bathrooms!

Let me suggest a worst, also from a museum: this one, from the Guggenheim. Nearly impossible to use, sitting or standing. (So it must have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.)