Art Environments

Collection Series

James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden

5634 Evergreen Drive
Town of Wilson, WI 53081

The James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden is nestled in the Town of Wilson woods just south of Sheboygan. This site, cared for by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, is dotted with sculptures loosely connected by a woodland path.

James Tellen (1880–1957) was inspired to create his sculptures after a stay recuperating at St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan. He spent time gazing out his window at the yard of the Holy Name Church across the street where there were intriguing grottos built of rounded stones with statues of the Virgin Mary and other holy figures. A devout Catholic, Tellen was receptive to the power of these figures integrated in a natural setting. Uniting his interest in art, nature, and religion, Tellen decided to tackle large-scale sculpting, using concrete rather than marble or stone to mold his outdoor pieces.

Tellen created his outdoor works at the family summer log cabin site. Many of his pieces impart moral messages. Dogs flanking a flirtatious woman and cowboy at the well may symbolize loyalty while a nearby picnic scene with a fallen-down-drunk chastised by his fuming wife counsels sobriety. A love of nature and a deep-seated spirituality is evident in Tellen’s work.

Today, the site is free and open to the public and often hosts visiting artists during their residencies at the Arts Center.