Art Environments

Collection Series

Nick Engelbert


Nick Engelbert (1881–1962), an Austrian-born dairy farmer who came to call Hollandale home, was moved to name his hillside farm for its “grand view." After a visit to the eye-popping Dickeyville Grotto around 1930, Engelbert was inspired to transform his property into his own version of a roadside attraction. He embellished the entire exterior of his farmhouse with concrete inlaid with stones, shells, and bright bits of glass. Using the same materials, he began to fill the yard with life-sized and over-life-sized concrete sculptures celebrating immigrant success, farm life, tall tales, family, and fun. When age stopped Nick Engelbert from the heavy work of sculpting in concrete, he began to paint the memories of his life, which included the building of his lively environment.

Today the John Michael Kohler Arts Center cares for several exceptionally fragile sculptures from Grandview as well as Engelbert’s collection of 74 paintings. Between 1991–97, Kohler Foundation, Inc. acquired and preserved the Grandview site, which is now owned and operated by the Pecatonica Educational Charitable Foundation.