Kathy Ruth Neal - Kansas City, Missouri
Kathy Ruth Neal was born in Oakland, California. She spent much of her life working as a TWA flight attendant. After being diagnosed with cancer, following successful treatment, she began to whittle and never stopped carving. She said, "I think my lifelong interest in colors, painting, and drama is a gift from my Grandfather, Walter Whipple, who was a silent screen actor and make-up artist. Many of my wood carvings depict what I consider to be vignettes of American life: events of the day, at the movies, the circus, or politics. How I came to carve wood, however, is a mystery."
Mark Negus - Blue Springs, Missouri
A gentle man with a quiet demeanor would best describe Mark Negus of Blue Springs, Missouri. His interest lies in miniature sculptures and miniature paintings. They usually are created out of bits of paper or metal with lots of thought given to the intracacies of each section of the sculpture. They are so small that they fit within the palm of your hand.
Melissa Nelson & Ruby Meyer - Norton/Paola, Kansas
Ruby Meyer (1916-2005) discovered paper mache through her children's 4-H and classroom projects. She began to experiment with the medium, and lamented that the work attracted bugs as it aged due to the flour in the paste medium. Her daughter, Melissa, came up with a recipe that eliminated the flour from the paste thus making the work truly timeless. Melissa Nelson continued the process after her mother's death, but moved away from the chicken-wire mold, and began each piece with simple, skeleton wood frames wrapped with thousands of strips of paper while wet. One sculpture depicts her mother, Ruby, peeling apples. A spectacular "Bungling Brothers" circus includes performing elephants, a lion tamer with performing lions, and a monkey "Top Banana Band." Melissa continues the tradition of creating paper mache figures and has refined the mother-daughter techniques over the years.
Richard Nelson - Salina, Kansas
Richard Nelson built his "Garden Railway" after retiring from Western Star Mill in Salina. A G-scale railroad is a large-scale model railway (1:29 scale) with permanently installed tracks set up in a garden. It was 32- by 48- feet, took 79 tons of dirt, 475 stones, 190 tires and 12 tons of rock.
Henry Obermueller - Lincoln, Kansas - 1905-1978
Henry Obermuller brought his wife a store-bought wooden bird which caused a great deal of conversation. He decided he might be able to do as well, so started carving driftwood picked up at Kanopolis Reservoir. The oak and catalpa was from trees drowned out when the lake was built in 1951. Obermuller shaped the wood with a grindstone, then carved in details with a rugged-looking corn knife, then finished them with sandpaper and paint. He refers to a bird encyclopedia to be sure they are true to life. The stands for the birds are twisted tree roots or more driftwood. He was partial to cardinals.
Fred Pargeter - Pretty Prairie, Kansas - 1864-1957
Fred Pargeter traveled back to his English birthplace many times bringing back items that would cause him to build another room onto his house. At some point, he began to create paintings on alfalfa sacks that he would spread across hand-made frames made of walnut and cedar wood. He transformed his farm chicken house into a studio. He created over 500 paintings. A relative relayed that Pargeter gave one of his paintings to each High School Graduate of Pretty Prairie, KS and every couple that got married received a painting for a wedding gift.
Anton Pearson - Lindsborg, Kansas - 1892-1967
Anton Pearson began wood carving at age 9. He was a Swedish immigrant and met Birger Sandzen on a visit to Lindsborg and stayed long enough to study painting. But he continued to create wood carvings, working in redwood, catalpa, walnut, basswood, cottonwood, gun, and limestone. His figures often depicted the Smoky Valley early pioneers and epitomized strength, humor, and the strong character of the immigrants. This often was illustrated by exaggerated feet, hunched backs, scrunched, weathered faces, or rough hands stuck in pockets.
Gary Pendergrass - Wichita, Kansas
Gary Pendergrass saw a steampunk hat and was hooked. After a career as a home remodeler, he now makes his steampunk creations of metal, wood and all sorts of materials. His home place in Wichita is a magical land filled with birds, engines, masks and statues. His work can also be seen on Main Street at "Bowl Plaza" in Lucas., KS.
James Penquite - Delphos, Kansas - 1946-2011
James Penquite, "The Byrdman", made birdhouses, custom clocks, benches, mailboxes, and outhouses out of scrap metal. His workshop in rural Delphos was a ramshackle array of rusted oil and brake drums, door hinges and knobs, faucet handles, window frames, split wood, table legs, stovetops, license plates, metal lampshades, tin sheeting, and burned-out fuses. His unique birdhouses sit atop cut telephone poles with bases made from brake and oil drums. "I really started making art out of junk because it's the best way to cut overhead."
James Perucca - Overland Park, Kansas - 1926-2001
Yard environment - "Trash art"
James Perucca spent 30 years quietly surrounding his home on 103rd Street in Overland Park with a yardscape of plastic bottles, figurines, stuffed animals, ribbons, and anything else that pleased his eye. He loved color and movement and the multiple yard garlands and the Kansas wind provided both. He lived in one of the original homes in that area, but with time, the neighborhood gradually shifted to new suburban development. While his colorful statues, ribbons and ornaments frequently drew the ire of local authorities, he managed to preserve the site until his death in 2001. Some of his environment is part of the permanent exhibit at the Grassroots Art Center.
Carole Peters - Lawrence, Kansas
Carole Peters started painting in the late 1980s. As a Special Ed teacher of the blind non-ambulatory, she often used cartooning in her classroom. In 2017 arthritis and dementia caused her to simplify her painting technique. She now arranges paper cutouts to draw the figures, then watercolors. Her later style is more Folk Art.
Mri Pilar - Lindsborg, Kansas
Recycled Art Installations
Mri-Pilar is an eclectic mix of international traveler, mystic, vegetarian, independent, poet, and alien. She lives part-time in Lucas, Kansas, and part of the time at Marquette, Kansas. Over 1800 recycled sculptures are created from computer motherboards, kitchen utensils, game boards, clock gears, farm machine parts, toys, metal, plastic remnants, and other items. "I had no ideas (when I started on a piece). The faucet would go on and for about half a day I would pick up objects and put things together," she said. "Then the faucet would go off, and then I had to work to finish them. It was never a conscious effort to create a piece." Pilar calls those works "unclocks" because they were made in the moment and with no preconceived notion about what art is. Some of her work is for sale in the gift area.
Michael Pinto - Bazine, Kansas
James Pinto created finely detailed dioramas by hand, either on flat layouts or inside of natural enclosures such as egg shells and gourds. He milled his own lumber and created the scenes in oil and acrylic, polymer clay, wood, wax, stone, and bone. "I want you to feel like you could be in the scene, experience it and live there if only for a moment."