Wednesday, December 7, 2016

This Post Begins with Goats and Ends with Goats - Mad City and Beyond: Summer 2016

Following a surgery at the Meriter Hospital in Madison, Kym and I set off on a week long adventure to tour parts of Wisconsin we have not visited yet. We started with the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee. The fair was a great experience and I got to see plenty of my new favorite thing- GOATS!!
We also ran across a very humorous situation at the expo center, A pro Donald Trump booth selling all kinds of crap. Also on hand was Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson to sign anything that you put in front of him. I was interested in what kind of messages were being put into the world by these Trump supporters and found something irresistible.
So I bought this button that, for anyone who truly understands the symbol that is being used, means freedom and socialism exist together and are necessary to each other. The lady that sold it to me then said "And you must meet the Senator, he's right over there" I thanked her and started walking off. She actually yelled at me "No, he's that way!" Very funny people.

After the fair we traveled to The Witch House of Fox Point. This very odd house and environment is found near Milwaukee on the coast of Lake Michigan. It is a beautiful area with a fantastic view of the lake and......terrifying sculptures!
The Witch House is the stuff of many legends. The most common being that the women that lived here lost her husband and son to Lake Michigan and she made these sculptures as sentinels to watch for their return.

The true story is that artist Mary Nohl lived in this home ( owned by her family ) alone for many years. Mary Nohl never married and never had children (except her spiritual offspring seen in these photos). The environment is very interesting and I only wish that we could have toured the home itself. The home is private and visitors are only allowed to look through the chain link fence that surrounds it.
The Witch House is on Wisconsin's Registery of Historic Places and the estate itself was given to the Kohler Foundation after Nohl's death in 2001 at 87 years of age.

The next day we set out for Rhinelander, WI to see Project Mayhem- a death metal festival in the woods of Pelican, WI. On the way we stopped in Rudolf, WI to walk the Rudolf Grotto, Gardens and Wonder Cave. The Rudolf Grotto is the work of several pastors, the first of which made a promise to the Virgin Mary (some may say a pact) when he was ill in Europe that he would build a grotto in her honor if he was allowed to get well. Father Philip Wagner was appointed Rudolf's pastor in 1917 and he immediately began work on the grotto. To make along story short, the grottos last project was completed in 1983. The beautiful gardens are filled with very interesting structures piled out of stone and decorated with some very creative materials to form mosaics.

 The materials I was most drawn to were the rock itself and the broken glass mosaics. It seems a good deal of the rock is rare lava rock found within a 15-20 mile radius of the grotto.

The glass mosaics were made by obtaining glass from the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Co. in Indiana and melting it down in the school's coal furnace. These mosaics look like chunky plastic amalgams, like nothing I have ever really seen before.

The Wonder Cave is a 1/5 of a mile long underground catacomb with 26 shrines to Jesus. It is quite an accomplishment. Some of the most interesting features in the vignettes that are encountered along the catacomb are the signs or "illuminations" in hand punched tin. These signs give the "cave" a look all its own. This metal working technique is a lost art. An interesting side note is that a few years ago I had a conversation with a metal fabricator/ blacksmith about this very process at The Goat Farm in Atlanta GA.(image pending)

Statues abound in the grotto and in the Wonder Cave.

Another interesting feature is this thorn bearing tree, said to have sprouted on its own , at the foot of the mound that makes up the Wonder Cave. It is a Swamp Locust in the Gleditsin-Honey Locust family.

After visiting Rudolph we moved on to Rhinelander to attend Project Mayhem in the woods of Rhinelander. Project Mayhem is an annual death metal festival sponsored by a local radio station. We heard about it from our friend Paul Josheff who is also in one of the featured bands Twichard. We took in music from Forcefield, Towering Abomination (it is worth mentioning the song "Where is My Skin?" as one of our favorites) and Twichard before moving on. My next mission was to find some evidence of the Hodag ( a legendary monster that roams the woods of Rhinelander ) . We found a few sculptures in town and I got a Hodag t-shirt at the local Walmart.

My concept of the Hodag- ball point pen on DaysInn note pad paper.

We visited some more goats in  Waunakee Wisconsin with this nice goat climbing tower.