Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Art and Beer

Over the weekend I did two cool Wisconsin things. I also did an Illinois thing the previous weekend which was the Elmhurst Art Museum. Not the most exciting museum I've ever been to, but it's worth a visit if you have some time to kill before hitting Chicago.

One of the Wisconsin things I did this past weekend was visit the New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, Wisconsin. The other thing I did was visit Nick Engelbert's Grandview in Hollandale, Wisconsin, just a few miles outside of New Glarus. There are times when art and beer go together, and other times when beer is art and other times when art is beer. This time, I think that beer was art, and art was not as good as beer.

Translation: New Glarus Brewing Co. may have been of more interest to me than Nick Engelbert's Grandview. Gasp! But, if you've ever been to New Glarus Brewing Co., maybe you know why.

Walking around the brewery was sort of like wandering around a museum. There were many objects to contemplate existentially..."Where did this come from...?" "What is it used for...?" I mean this in a very literal sense. I could not even fathom where the majority of the objects/devices/machines originated. For example, these fallopian beer tubes:

Is there some sort of trendy brewery manufacturing company that makes color-coordinated brewing equipment so that the brewery is enticing to the slightly buzzed tourist's eye...intricate, curvy, colorful...? A better hypothesis may be that the town of New Glarus is actually a town for Swiss elves who only come out at night to brew beer, cleaning every nook and cranny along the way. No joke, this was the cleanest place I have ever been, and I used to work in housekeeping, so I've got a keen eye! Check out the shininess: 

"Drink Indigenous"

Willy Wonka-looking beer receptacles

Screenshot from "Metropolis"

Outer facade

I hesitate to continue on the topic of beer, because it's not a specialty of mine by any means (although I've been known to enjoy a Spotted Cow from time to time). 

On the topic of Grandview and Hollandale, however, I can speak comfortably. I'll compare it to an experience I had in Chicago a few weeks ago: My friend Alli and I went into TopShop to do some window shopping first, and then we went into H&M. By comparison, H&M was kind of a let down. I think the same thing happened with Grandview. I was impressed by the brewery, so Grandview didn't seem as cool [Note: Julie and Johnie and I just had a conversation about the usage of the word "cool." Is it still cool to use the word cool?]. I can acknowledge, however, that if it was one of those places I would have come across randomly I would have been mystified. Grandview was a similar experience to that of Prairie Moon Road in that it was outdoors, and slightly unapproachable. A 4-wheel drive vehicle may be necessary in the winter, as the driveway to the park wasn't very well cleared. Boots are a necessity as well.

A rather "grand" view

The difference between Prairie Moon and Grandview is that Prairie Moon displays the works of multiple artists while Grandview is a menagerie of one artist, Nick Engelbert. Engelbert made sculptures that were inspired by his Swiss and Scandinavian heritage, and by other Wisconsin outsider/ folk artists. 

Mosaic eagle

Ring around the rosie

Monkey tree?

Peacock

Close-up of miniature castle

Engelbert also constructed an outdoor porch which was probably my favorite piece on the property.


Like Prairie Moon, the house was a museum of sorts, but was closed for the winter season. I noticed through the window an abandoned case of beer, although, it wasn't New Glarus. 

A close-up reveals the amount of devotion that went into creating Engelbert's fantasyland: 


The casserole of old junk, ceramics, toys, and other knick-knacks glimmered in the sun as the day wound to a close, making the building look like an ever-changing film. In the distance Wisconsin's rural fields lay modestly, creating a perfect backdrop for the Pagan-like figures. It was peaceful, as most of rural Wisconsin is, and it was a unique experience to have a place to pull off and feel what the air actually feels like in these idyllic rural towns.

If I were planning a Wisconsin rural art tour I wouldn't pair the New Glarus Brewery and Grandview together. Firstly, Grandview seems less grand than the cavernous, glowing organs of the brewery, and secondly, there are a lot of treacherous rural roads to traverse in order to reach Hollandale. Maybe that's what happened to this guy...

The Wisconsin art viewing experience

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