Joe Kauffman - Zimmerdale, Kansas - 1931-1999
Joe I. Kauffman, self-proclaimed mayor of Zimmerdale, died at 68, a former mechanic and operator of an auto repair shop in Zimmerdale for many years. Joe's nickname was "Mr. Goodpliers." He made metal sculptures that surrounded his shop. He was of the adventurous sort as he made his own boat and navigated rivers. Zimmerdale was never an official town and only consisted of some ten buildings, a grain elevator and salvage yard. After Kauffman's death, the county commissioners placed the "town" of Zimmerdale on the auction block.
Ronald Keith - Penokee, Kansas - 1938-2018
Ronald Keith started whittling toys as a kid. "They weren't fancy and were played with" so they no longer remain. His later work was "winter projects", mostly things they had on the farm when he was a kid.
Ida Kingsbury - Pasadena, Texas
Recycled Yard Art
Ida Kingsbury was a life long Texan. When Ida's husband died she spent the next 17 years ornamenting the yard surrounding their home. Tom and Moria LaFaver and the Friends of Ida Kingsbury provided the opportunity for the art center to receive this yard environment from Pasadena, Texas. throughout these latter years, the yard became an outdoor exhibition, 'jam-packed' with Ida's art work. She painted on every imaginable surface including teapots, metal anchors, plastic animals, two litter pop bottles, tire inner tubes, milk buckets, washboards, birdhouses and whatever appeared on her doorstep. Important dates in her life such as living at Schulenburg, TX, or when her dog 'Big Boy' died were enumerated in text.
John Korzinowski - Kansas City, Missouri - 1924-2013
Wrench motif, Indian head chief, yard assemblages
John Korzinowski turned metal wrneches into gates and yard art. He just wanted something to do with his tools and time. His yard was an attraction in the Kansas City area.
"Castle Island" Yard Environment
Don Kracht - Junction City, Kansas
HIdden in the trees in the middle of Kansas is Don Kracht's "Castle Island." It is a scene that he has been building since the early 1990's straight from the days of knights and ladies-in-waiting. When he moved some dirt to build a pond, he realized he had created an island. He said "I had an island with a moat around it, and I figured if you have an island and a moat, you've got to have a castle." His environment is complete with castle gatehouse, wooden drawbridge, pool of Venus and Queen's Garden, dungeon, round table, stained glass, verandas, and turret's. Don is king of his castle.
Anna Larkin - McPherson, Kansas - 1855-1939
Anna Larkin began carving in Sweden when she was 7. Her uncle was a famous Swedish carver. At 10 she sold a carved horse for $10 to a sea captain. She settled in McPherson, KS and carved all her life She used primarily white pine and occasionally California sugar pine. An average carving took 2 days. She would cut and saw out the rough shape and the next day carve the details with a paring knife. Fro finishing, she would rub the work with a piece of glass, followed by two grades of sandpaper. She rarely painted her carvings. She said that painting meant covering up something you were ashamed of, and she was not asheamed of her work. She espcieally loved to carve oxen and covered wagons. Anna sent a carving to President Franklin Roosevelt. A collection of her carvings can be found at the McPherson Museum & Arts Foundation.
Self Portrait Artist
Elizabeth 'Grandma" Layton - Wellsville, Kansas - 1909-1993
Elizabeth Layton started drawing in 1977 in a class which taught the technique of blind drawing whereby one looks at the paper while drawing, and not the subject. Elizabeth began looking in the mirror and, using the technique, began drawing herself. After she had been drawing for 12 hours a day for 6 months, she had cured her 20 year manic depression.Her works have been exhibited across the country. She did not sell her pieces, but gave them away or donated to charity auctions benefiting the arts, mental health, women's causes and civil liberties.
Christian Leiker - Hays, Kansas - 1921-2001
Christian Leiker made metal sculptures from old water heaters and mufflers. He created the Wizard of Oz characters which reside at the kansas originals market in Wilson, KS. He used parts and supplies from appliance shops in the Hays area.
Curly Leiker - Hays, Kansas
Starting in the 1960's, Curly Leiker has made metal art from scrap iron parts. He started out making small "nut people" out of nuts and bolts. He was encouraged to go bigger, and he made a large-scale figure on a mailbox. There are now more than 300 scattered over the US. "My goal is to make it look as natural as possible. It's important to me that you see something in it." Heis collection also includes dinasaurs, spiders, and a giant bee. He has decorated gourds, bones and turtle shells.
Ron Lessman - Topeka, Kansas
Ron Lessman is a wild, crazy, 'against the establishment', creative, energetic, inventive, talkative, fossil collector, gardener, catfish farmer and a true recycler of discarded items. In the early 2000's, Ron created "Truckhenge," which consists of six vintage trucks standing on end, buried 4 feet into the ground with concrete when the City of Topeka told him to haul his junk trucks away, to "pick them up". Soon to follow was "Beer Bottle City" with over 120,000 colored bottles, the "Tower of Rubble", a tornado self-portrait, and "Boathenge" - six, upright planted recycled boats. Ron loves to host visitors.
M.T. Liggett - Mullinville, Kansas - 1930-2017
M. T. Liggett started creating scrap metal totem poles in 1989 after retiring from the Air Force. Over thirty years later he has created some 500+ metal totems that are displayed on a section of farm ground that he owns at Mullinville, KS. M.T. painted one house saying that he used 1 gallon of a paint using it until he ran out then changing each section using a differennt color. He has since moved and is now ornamenting the exterior of his current home with metal art. The 17' tall totem poles are made using parts from farm implements, signs, springs, and any available scrap metal. The rows of sculptures, often scathing comments on current events, line Liggett's property on Highway 54 east of Dodge City to form his own unique gallery of rogues.
Wooden Yard Environment
Warren Lingg - Cawker City - 1912-2005
Warren Lingg saw dead trees at Glen Elder Lake and thought they looked like totem poles. His totem poles began filling his yard. Using a drawing, he made a basic shape with a chain saw, then used a power sander, chisel, hammer and a sharp knife to carve out intricate features. He worked with the shape of each individual tree, to make each unique. Then they were painted and sealed. He also carved many other figures inclluding wagons and seated cowboys.