8 Summit Road: Home & Studio of Marie Englehart

(1st appeared in catalogue for the 2019 Artists’ Home/Studio Walk, Ogden Dunes)

The Artist

Marie Englehart lives art.  This is reflected in her own work but especially in her home that is filled with art, especially art of indigenous people and the work of artists who have influenced her.  Growing up in a home with a mother who was a home economics teacher, she and her sister began sewing and creating clothing almost from the time they entered 1st grade.  It was natural for Marie to pursue art when she entered college.   She graduated with a degree in ceramic art and art education.  Currently she teaches in the Duneland School District.

As with most artists, she has worked with various materials and in many mediums.  Beginning with ceramics and pottery, she later became an award winning weaver.  In the 1990s, Marie and a friend, a clothing designer, formed a business to create “wearable art” that was sold through the Apparel Center in Chicago and elsewhere.

Today, working alone, Marie Englehart uses a process called discharge.  She starts with a solid dark fabric.  Then she sprays diluted bleach through templates onto the fabric, thus removing removes varying amounts of the dye to produce surface designs.  From this fabric, she creates women’s “wearable art”.  Her colors and the textures of the fabric, combined with antique lace, results in one of a kind of “wearable art.”   Examples of her work (coats, jackets, dresses, scarves) are displayed in her studio/sales room.

Of the many intriguing aspects about Marie, her work and her home, is her collection of art by from earlier artists of the dunes.  It is almost a museum honoring the work of Dorothy Ives, Arlene Seitzinger Miller, and Kathy Kinney.   Marie shows her respect for those who have gone before and who have influenced her.

The Home and Studio

The home at 8 Summit Road is one of the first developed on a ridge of the highest dunes in Ogden Dunes.  Nancy and Arthur L. Gerometta, a vice president of Gerometta Construction of Gary commissioned architect Joseph Martin of Gary to design the home in 1957.   The home sits on a dune that had deep ravines to the west and south.  As with many homes in Ogden Dunes, the lower level is built into the dune, providing magnificent views of surrounding dunes and Lake Michigan from both the lower and upper levels.

To enter the home, one passes by her well-designed, natural garden.   In the foyer one immediately is struck by the magnificent northern view and the large plaster and lace sculpture, “The Oracle of Legal Corruption”, by Dorothy Ives.   You are surrounded by well-placed work of indigenous artists from throughout the world and quite interesting furniture art.   Note especially the painted rebuilt antique hutches and the fascinating iron work-sofa in the living room and the iron bedstead in the master bedroom.  The iron work, made by a local artist, represents cattails and native grasses.  A large “Tie Wall Hanging”, Marie’s work in progress, is on the stairway to the lower level.

Follow the hallway to the right and view the painted hutch, the art and the fabric used in the bedrooms and bathroom.  The hallway is lit by a recently redone skylight.    Next you will enter the art-filled living room that overlooks a natural garden, highlighted by two sculptured birds.  Among the impressive pieces are examples of Marie’s pottery pieces that expressed opposition to war, tea tables painted by Arlene Seitzinger Miller, and a number of Ives’ work.

The next stop is the lower level with a large, comfortable room that looks out into the garden and views of the western ravine.   Above the fire place is another example of Dorothy Ives’ work.  In this room additional art work from Marie’s collection is displayed.

After returning to the first floor one enters her studio/display room.  Originally a three-season room surrounded by duneland flora, today it is a nurturing work space for Marie’s creativity.   Here one can examine and, if one wishes, purchase her creations.   A wide range of “wearable art” is available.

One leaves 8 Summit, also known as the Gerometta* home to long-time Ogden Dunes residents, with a greater appreciation for the wide-range of art that is created by our neighbors and a greater sense of the history of our community and its people.

* Art Gerometta, born in Gary, first attended the University of Illinois on a football scholarship in 1942.  Following acceptance into West Point, he played on three national championship football teams, 1944-1946.   As an officer in the Korean War, he was wounded in 1951.  As a result of his leadership and bravery, he received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.  After coaching and teaching at West Point, he returned to Gary in 1954 to join the family’s construction business.  He and his wife Nancy moved temporarily into a home in Ogden Dunes, at 68 Ogden Road, joining his brother Robert and his sister Jean who had built homes on Aspen in the early 1950s.   It was in their Summit home, they raised three sons.  After Art’s death in 2000, his wife Nancy sold the family home on Summit.