The Road Less Traveled Exhibition



Apr. 30, 2017 - Aug. 27, 2017

Mary Nohl found conventional boundaries unrewarding and pursued her own creative path as she transformed her lakeside home and yard into a multifaceted art environment. This exhibition embraces Nohl’s broad artistic practice, presenting paintings, sculptures, and illustrations from the Arts Center collection in addition to a new work of poetry commissioned from Wisconsin’s poet laureate.

Explore the exhibition

Ends Aug. 2017

About this exhibition

Mary Nohl (1914–2001) was a wood-carver, painter, sculptor, ceramist, printmaker, potter, writer, illustrator, and jeweler who described herself as simply “a woman who likes tools.”

Nohl was also an environment builder; her creations permeated every room in her home and between every tree in her yard. She was deeply influenced by the Lake Michigan shoreline and her woodland surroundings.

She mixed concrete from the sand and stone of her beachfront property to build dozens of sculptures. Her colorful wooden reliefs of swimmers and boaters graced the home’s exterior. Wind chimes and wooden fish hung in the trees. Inside her home, in addition to altering every wall, light fixture, vase, and piece of furniture, Nohl worked on paintings, jewelry, glass sculptures, wood assemblages, ceramics, wire figures, and puppets.

In the spring of 2015, after some doubts about whether or not the art environment could remain in situ, the Arts Center embarked on a large-scale restoration of Nohl’s lake cottage in its original Fox Point, Wisconsin, location.

For this exhibition of works from the Arts Center’s collection, Catherine J. Morris, the Sackler Family Curator for Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, has chosen works that highlight Mary Nohl as a prolific artist in many media. The selections showcase Nohl as a creative individual with an identity beyond that of an outlier in her community.



Catherine J. Morris is the Sackler Family Curator for Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, with an emphasis in using feminism in art as a methodology, and working to assert histories that complicate singular narratives.

Opening Night: The Road Less Traveled

You’re invited to Opening Night in our yearlong series dedicated to artist-built environments!

Seven multidisciplinary exhibitions exploring art environments
Musical performance by Jim White and Paul Fonfara
Followed by DJ and dancing
Complimentary appetizers
Cash bar

Members are Free (remember to bring your card for fast check-in)

$15 in advance/$25 at door

Feb. 25, 2017

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This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Kohler Trust for the Arts and Education, and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The Arts Center thanks its many members for their support of exhibitions and programs through the year.