Synopses & Reviews
LOOK INSIDE THE LIFE — AND HOME — OF LEGENDARY 'OUTSIDER' ARTIST MARY NOHL
"Mary Nohl: A Lifetime in Art" by Barbara Manger and Janine Smith, tells the story of Milwaukee-born artist, Mary Nohl. A prolific and fanciful maker who worked in a variety of media, Nohl was both a mysterious figure and an iconic "outsider" artist. This new addition to the Badger Biographies series captures her life and will capture the imagination of readers, and artists, of all ages.
Nohl didn't just make art — she lived it. From the time she was young, Mary enjoyed making things, from the model airplane that won her a citywide prize to assignments in shop class, where she learned to work with tools.
Her interests in art blossomed during the years she spent training at the Art Institute of Chicago, leading to a lifetime of curiosity and ventures into new artistic media. From pottery to silver jewelry and oil painting to concrete sculpture, Mary explored new ways of making art. Many of her pieces were made from found objects that other people might think of as junk — like chicken bones, bedsprings and sand that she made into concrete.
Nohl, who made her home on the shores of Lake Michigan, decorated the interior of her cottage with bright colors and eye-catching figures in driftwood and glass. During her later years, her home became known as the "Witch's House" — a place of local legend known far beyond Fox Point. Though she died in 2001, Mary's legacy continues. Her art is held at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, and her home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The popular Badger Biographies series for young readers explores the lives of famous and not-so-famous figures in Wisconsin history. The Wisconsin Historical Society Press is proud to celebrate the release of this, the 21st book in the series.
Wisconsin Historical Society Press publishes some great Badger State books for adults on everything from bowling alleys to bars, history to nature to sports and more. But, the Madison-based publisher also dishes up new titles each year in its great Badger Biographies series for young readers ages 7 and up.The series has nearly two dozen titles, spotlighting Curly Lambeau, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bob La Follette, Les Paul and many others. What’s nice is that the books, which are illustrated, are invariably well-written and never talk down to young readers. I’m especially excited by the two newest titles, which focus on Milwaukee legends.
"Father Groppi: Marching for Civil Rights" – written by Stuart Stotts, who also wrote books in the series on Lucius Fairchild and Lambeau – traces the story of one of the state’s most influential Italian Americans. Groppi was born to Tuscan emigrants in Bay View, and went on to become an outspoken supporter of Civil Rights.
In addition to explaining Groppi’s work in the fights for fair housing and desegregated schools, the book also looks at Milwaukee’s neighborhood’s, Groppi’s early life, the great migration from the south to the north and the national Civil Rights movement.
The publisher tapped Barbara Manger and Janine Smith for "Mary Nohl: A Lifetime in Art." The two also wrote a book for adults about Nohl a couple years ago.
Nohl is the late artist who made her unique home on Milwaukee’s North Shore; the Fox Point home has come to be called the witch’s house, though Nohl was no witch.
No, Nohl was a prolific creator of colorful, fanciful artworks. That work, along with her mystique helped define her as Milwaukee’s premier outsider artist. This biography explores her life and her work, adding a great section of color photographs of her work and a glossary of terms for young readers, too.
Both titles belong in any Milwaukee kid’s library. (Bobby Tanzilo, OnMilwaukee.com)
“Like its predecessor, "Mary Nohl: A Lifetime in Art" is thoughtfully written and generously illustrated with examples of Nohl's artwork. No school or public library in southeastern Wisconsin should be without it; parents with children interested in art should consider picking it up for summer reading.” (Jim Higgins of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
From her home on the shores of Lake Michigan, artist Mary Nohl created a world of whimsical figures, odd sculptures, and brightly-colored oil paintings—many made from “found” objects that other people might think of as junk, like driftwood, bedsprings, and sand that she made into concrete. With hundreds of sculptures populating her yard, her lake property became known in her later years as “The Witch’s House.”
About the Author
is an artist who has taught printmaking and drawing for many years. She also founded Artists Working in Education, a non-profit Milwaukee-based organization that provides art experience for at-risk children.
Janine Smith is an award-winning book designer who owns and operates Designsmith, a graphic design company in Fox Point, Wisconsin.