Art Environments

Collection Series

Frank Oebser


Frank Oebser, The Pig with a Harness, c. 1970; plastic, metal, wood, mixed media. John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection, gift of Kohler Foundation Inc.

Frank Oebser, Little Program (site view, Menomenie, WI), 1965–90.



Oebser was a farmer, an inventor, and a man who saw humor in everything and fun everywhere. “Tinker Frank,” as he was known, built a fanciful amusement park-style environment in his barn in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Oebser called his conglomeration of sculptures the “Little Program,” a showcase for his ideas on how to recycle the farm equipment fading into obsolescence. In the 1960s and 1970s, many visitors came to ride his Ferris wheel and laugh at “George Washington” engaged in numerous endeavors. Many sculptures were preserved after the artist’s death though Oebser’s employment of myriad temporal materials in his works resulted in continual decay over time. The five large pieces in the Arts Center’s collection are among the few that still exist.