April 2009

Sublime Spaces & Visionary Worlds, Built Environments of Vernacular Artists

Princeton Architectural Press

  • 37 East 7th Street
  • New York , NY

(212) 995-9620

Colorful and inspirational, abc Sublime Spaces & Visionary Worlds xyz explores the individuality of twenty-two vernacular artists who have transformed their homes into works of art. These environments have been preserved by the Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Shown in rich detail, these spaces are magical, whimsical, and sometimes over-the-top in their approach.

One of these vernacular artists was Levi Fisher Ames (1840-1923). He was a storyteller and carved more than six hundred figures of insects, animals and folkloric characters, sometimes from memory. Sam Rodia (1879-1965) was a local (southern California) artist who built a monumental sculptural environment he called Nuestro Pueblo (or Watts Towers), which is still standing today. Built of concrete and steel, Rodia built his structure entirely alone and by hand.

Then there is Mary Nohl (1914-2001), who was a sculptor, painter, printmaker, jeweler, potter, illustrator and writer. However, she is best known for being an environmental builder and invented imaginary sculptural characters that filled the shoreline around her Lake Michigan home. One of the most prolific, Tom Every (b. 1938) constructed over ten acres of sculptural wonders, some reaching fifty feet high and spanning 120 by 60 feet.

These vernacular artists must be truly inspired; to tap into the creative world that allows them to go beyond convention and restraint thereby meeting the divine half-way. abc Sublime Spaces & Visionary Worlds xyz is a library of the curious found among ordinary life and ordinary things.

Reviewer: Cynthia Aaron, FIDM Library Staff Member