Interesting Ideas: Roadside Art Online

Mary Nohl, Milwaukee Genius

Mary Nohl relief
The first time I saw Mary Nohl's masterpiece of a home and yard I only knew I was being taken to "The Witch's House." That was its name for a generation of neighborhood kids, including the two who were showing me the one big curiosity in Fox Point, Wisconsin.

The reason for the visit was Nohl's eccentricity, which made her yard a target for vandals as well as a local landmark. But it didn't take long to see that the art was far more important than the oddity. I had visited a couple of art environments at that time, including Howard Finster's Paradise Garden near Summerville, Georgia, and Nohl's place was clearly one of those. It may have seemed more domestic than heroic, tucked away next to Lake Michigan in its comfortable corner of suburban Milwaukee, but it constituted a clear statement of her personal vision.

Mary Nohl yard sculpture Mary Nohl yard sculpture Mary Nohl yard sculpture
The recent book Mary Nohl Inside and Outside tells the story of the artist's life and work. You can click through to see more pictures of the environment or read my review of the book.


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