Kohler Arts Dispatch

lakeshoreLake Michigan shoreline along the Kohler-Andrae State Park, south of Sheboygan

The remainder of our week continued to be full of surprises as we mined Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and its environs along the shores of Lake Michigan for activity relevant to our NOMO project. As Ene and I process our research and  interactions and begin to shape it into an exhibition/exposition to be staged at Kohler Arts Center this summer, I wanted to share a string of images and some rambling commentary below:

fishing gear

I’m always surprised and delighted to find such a thriving maritime culture and history in Sheboygan, where perch, salmon, trout, whitefish, chub and smelt are still fished commercially.

bag math

We made a habit of buying fish at Schwartz’s Fish Market, where they still smoke their own fish and tally the price by hand, just as they did in 1912 when the market was founded. Friday night is when every bar and restaurant in town features a ‘fish fry’, which is not to be missed. All generations gather at familiar neighborhood spots for drinks (the ‘old fashioned’ is the traditional fave), live music (usually with a German theme), and astounding salad bars, rife with delicious potato salads, herring, pickled beets, slaws and salad greens. The fish offerings change seasonally, but tend to feature lightly breaded, fried perch, wall-eye and cod.

birch trees

a birch forest along the lakeshore south of town

plate

Among many antique tools and ‘plausible historic artifacts’ I culled for the installation in the Kohler Arts gallery, this Dutch plate captured the feeling I’d like to conjure.

woodmizer

I found a wood mill in the back of a red barn just outside of town

recycled bikes

Our friend Kristofer Rusch brought us on a road trip that included a stop at ‘Mike the Recycler’.

red cross

A diolorama of a Red Cross volunteer at the Sheboygan History Museum

wpa mural

Portion of a WPA-era mural ( 1935), by Schomer Lichtner at the Sheboygan Post Office

zak worth1

drawing by Sheboygan artist Zak Worth

zak worth2

another drawing by Sheboygan artist Zak Worth

tellen sculpture1

We’ve been staying in a historic, salt-box house that borders the James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden, and I have been daily blown away by his artistry with such a rude material as concrete. The house was built as a boyscout clubhouse, and has the following word carved into the stones flanking the fireplace: Kind, Courteous, Friendly, Helpful, Loyal, Trustworthy, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent. These are all apt descriptions of the general populace in this region.


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