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Catalog Archive / Spring 2019

Mary Nohl
Inside & Outside, Second Edition
Designed by Janine Smith

“Mary Nohl's legacy, like her heroic, oversized sculptures, will stand the test of time thanks in no small part to Barbara Manger's sensitive portrayal of the often-misunderstood artist who cared little for fame and fortune”
—Laurie Winters, Executive Director, Museum of Wisconsin Art

This second edition includes an epilogue citing the steady and committed efforts of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center to restore and conserve the inside and outside of Mary Nohl's house and the concrete works in her yard. Outsider artist, sophisticated naïf, and witch are all labels that have described Mary Nohl (1914–2001), creator of a magical and mysterious site on the shore of Lake Michigan near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here she constructed huge concrete heads, stone-encrusted creatures, and imposing driftwood figures to fill the yard surrounding a modest cottage where she spent most of her life. Carved heads hang from the eaves, wind chimes tinkle in the trees, and pebbles at her doorstep spell “Boo.” The cottage is painted and embellished inside and out with wooden fish, boats, animals, and leaping figures. Wire, hemp, chicken bones, egg shells, aluminum pans, broken glass—almost any castoff materials available—were used by Nohl to create her art and ornament her surroundings.

Mary Nohl: Inside & Out offers the first comprehensive look into the unusual life of a remarkable artist whose surroundings stand as a monument to her creative personality. Establishing Nohl as a notable “outsider” artist, Barbara Manger and Janine Smith offer an inside look at an artist whose idiosyncratic art—pieces whose allure is only heightened by the intrigue and legends surrounding their creator—attracted generations of visitors who peered through the fence at Nohl’s wildly decorated yard but rarely caught a glimpse of the elusive artist.

Distributed for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Royalties from the sale of this book will be directed to the “Mary Nohl Collection” of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center


Barbara Manger has taught collegiate-level printmaking and drawing for many years and remains a practicing artist. She is also the found of Artists Working in Education (AWE), a non-profit Milwaukee-based organization providing art experience for at-risk children.

Janine Smith is an award-winning book designer who owns and operates Designsmith, a graphic design company in Fox Point, Wisconsin.




“It is important to extol Mary’s art with a new edition of this book and by restoring and conserving her art.”
—Ros Couture, lifelong friend of Mary Nohl

“Mary Nohl was a Wisconsin original, and this book is as fresh, as bold, and as visually compelling as its subject.”
—John Gurda, Milwaukee historian and author ofMilwaukee: A City Built on Water

“This new edition of Mary Nohl: Inside & Outside, too long out of print, includes all of the original story of Nohl and her work, and adds on the restoration of the house and grounds. Barbara Manger reveals who is behind the restoration. Mary Nohl continues to delight, surprise, and inspire.”
—John Shannon, Executive Director, GUARDIAN Fine Art Services


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April 2019
139 pp. 10 x 10
169 color images
145 b/w or sepia images

Book icon Paper $29.95
ISBN 978-0-578-42657-0
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