Dubuque Democratic Socialist Free School Grotto-Planter Demonstration

Photos from a recent demonstration/workshop at the Dubuque Democratic Socialist Free School at Prescott Elementary in Dubuque. I brought in some old light fixtures rescued by Key City Creative Center, and some awesome kids (especially Iris!) helped me turn these into grotto-inspired planters. 

Grotto-inspired Collage // postcard set

I made these back in the spring. I don't have a purpose for them yet, just getting back into making 2-d collage. Could be a nice postcard set?

Bathtub grotto updates

Doing some major catching up here! I finally have a real studio space at Dubuque's new maker space, Key City Creative Center , and while major life changes have gotten in the way of me being able to put in major time (yet), I have been able to make a good chunk of progress on some of the tubs. I also recently sold one to The Smokestack in Dubuque which is on display in their new "pocket garden". The interior of the tub still needs to be finished, and as per request of the owners, I will be filling the interior with broken mirror pieces, and pennies will cover the archway of the tub. 

Gorgeous Gravestones from Kenel, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, S.D

Last November I took a weekend trip to Standing Rock with a few friends. We donated tons of food, volunteered in kitchen and art tent, helped to organize donations and were witness to 2 long tribal ceremonies- it was an amazing experience and we all wish we could have stayed much longer. On the way to the main camp we stopped at the cemetery in Kenel. I was of course delighted to see these unique, gorgeous homemade stones, especially the grotto ones. I hope you enjoy these photos.  

Visit with family of Catherine Bastian - Dubuque area "ham can" grotto artist

A few weeks ago on my way driving back from a bathtub-grotto demonstration at the Antique Spectacular Show in Cedar Falls I spotted a stunning construction on the front lawn of an old farm house of Highway 20 while passing through the tiny town of Earlville, Iowa. Somehow I had driven past this house countless times over the past 5 years or so and never noticed it until now. I left a note in the mailbox asking for more information about the grotto and eventually received calls back from the creator's niece and nephew.  They informed me that their aunt Catherine had created 7 large grottoes like the one I saw in addition to 900 small grottoes made from cans of ham!  This was thrilling news to me because I had purchased a ham-can grotto from Goodwill years ago and despite my best efforts had been unable to find any clues about it's origins. In fact, the little grotto was a major catalyst for my project in the first place, and helped me to connect with my project partner, Tracy, who also owned a ham can grotto. (note: I have been unable to find any of the additional large grottoes, and they may not still be in existence. ) I hope to follow up with the family and potentially do a filmed interview.

Madeline Buol Grotto

My mind is totally blown by Dubuque grotto-maker Madeline Buol's work which I just discovered back in October while researching online (I've never heard anyone in Dubuque mention her). Previously located on Garfield St in Dubuque, the works are currently part of collection of The Kohler Foundation in Wisconsin. Discoveries like these are part of the reason I embarked on this project. Amazing and inspiring.

You can read more about the preservation of site here. And see more pictures on my site Grotto Sites page here.