Historical Society of Ogden Dunes
October 4, 2009
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Ogden Dunes, from its founding in 1925, has attracted and nurtured artists. The dunes, the lake and the many varieties of trees and flora provide an environment that continues to stimulate the creative imagination. Many of these artists established studios in their duneland homes.
Over the years these artists have been involved with state, regional and local art associations and galleries. The highly respected Hoosier Salon between the 1920s and 1970s invited a number of artists from Ogden Dunes to be part of their annual juried shows with many of these winning awards. Among those selected were Olive Hess Skemp (1937), Lorene K. Fagerburg (1954, 1955, 1961), Melvin T. Miller (1966, 1967), Arlene Seitzinger Miller (1967, 1971, 1975), Lester W. Gallagher (6 times between 1961 and 1971), and Jet Wittenberg (1977).
The Historical Society of Ogden Dunes is proud to sponsor this house/studio walk to highlight the work of nine local artists and their creative environments. Many designed their studios at the time they were building their homes; others have redesigned the homes to incorporate their studios and/or art collections. Some of these homes are exceptional examples of the architecture of the dunes.
The Historical Society was formed in 1990 to collect, preserve and disseminate the history of the community, including its long tradition as a haven for artists. Sue Mechtersheimer’s gift in 1992 of the “The Hour Glass”, built in 1933 by O.D. and Tillie Frank, is now the Society’s home and its museum. The museum includes a permanent exhibit of the work of local artists. Note: “The Hour Glass” at 8 Lupine Lane serves as an information and refreshment center for the tour and includes an exhibit of its art collection.
Early History of Ogden Dunes
Samuel Reck and his partners in Ogden Dunes Realty envisioned their new town as an upscale, “highly restricted” residential and recreational community. A copy of the 1920s sales brochure shows hundreds of building lots, plus a school, golf course, riding stables, and yacht harbor along the mouth of the recently opened Burns Canal. Stimulating this dream was the easy access to and growing interest in the natural beauty of the dunes. The South Shore and New York Central railroads provided passenger service, and the opening of U.S. 12 made it possible to commute by auto to the Chicago area.
Between 1927 and 1932 the Ogden Dunes Ski Club, with membership primarily Norwegians from Chicago, operated what was said to be the highest man-made ski jump in North America. It was built on top of a large dune that ended in today’s Kratz Field. By 1930, even with the ski jump, Ogden Dunes Realty struggled to develop the town. Of the 32 homes built or under construction in April 1930, only 14 were occupied by full-time residents. The 1930 census listed 40 adults and 10 children. The Depression and the lack of snow doomed the ski jump. The ski club held its last international competition in 1932; three years later the steel structure was dismantled and removed.
By 1939, nearly one hundred homes and cottages had been built in Ogden Dunes, with more than half being second homes or summer cottages. That year, not far from “The Hour Glass” the John Kuhns family built a new home at 44 Cedar Trail. It is the oldest house/studio on the tour. Since 1998, this home is artist Jack Simmerling’s home away from home.
The 1940 Census listed 144 residents in Ogden Dunes. Although the Great Depression ended in the late 1930s, World War II postponed further development of Ogden Dunes. With the ending of the war and the return to normalcy, the Ogden Dunes Realty Company developed the area east of Ogden Road. Two of the homes/studios on the walk are located in this area, John David Machuca’s 1 Skyline Drive (1947) and John Petrou’s 10 Ogden Road (1963). This subdivision led to Ogden Dunes becoming a residential, rather than a resort, community. By 1950 the community’s population had increased to 429.
The 1950s brought continued expansion as another subdivision was platted, the area along Diana Road from Hillcrest to Shore Drive. Drawing on the recommendations of a nationally recognized community development firm, J.C. Nichols of Kansas City, Nelson Reck of Ogden Dunes Realty and the Town Board did much to protect the natural terrain. Lots were large and linked to the rest of the community by long, graceful curving roads. Six of the homes/studios were built in or near this area:
* 138 Shore Drive, built in 1959, by owner/contractor Leslie Combs,
today the home of artist Vickie Combs
* 141 Shore Drive, built in 1949, designed as a cottage by a Chicago
architect, today the home of weaver Manda Kazmier
* 49 Sunset Trail, 1962, built by current owners, continues to be the
home and studio of Jet Wittenberg
* 51 Diana Road, 1955, built by Midwest Steel for its CEO, today the
home and studio of Jean Bargeron
* 8 Summit Road, 1957, built by owner/contractor, A. L. Gerometta,
today the home of art wear designer, Marie Englehart
* 79 Ski Hill Road, 1963, designed by and home/studio of Lee Hibbs
The 1950s brought not only the building of homes and an extension of roads, but also the creation of community organizations. Dorothy Buell, who lived at 17 Cedar Court, organized the first meeting in her home of the Save the Dunes Council in 1952. Buell and others were committed to protect the dunes and the lake front from the proposed expansion of the steel industry in northwest Indiana and the construction of a deepwater port. It took the Council six years to have a bill introduced in Congress to create the national park and fourteen years for the bill to become law. To achieve the national park required significant compromise, that is, the acceptance of a port and mills living side-by-side with the park.
On April 12, 1953 the Ogden Dunes Community (Presbyterian) Church held its first service at the Fire House. Five years later construction of the present church began. Also as a sign of the community coming of age, Nelson Reck, the son of the founder of Ogden Dunes Realty, and the town leaders established the Ogden Dunes Home Owners Association in 1957. Reck then transferred ownership of the beach front, parks and nature preserves to this newly created entity.
Between 1960 and 1970 the population increased from 947 to 1,440. The population growth was stimulated by the opening of the Indiana Toll Road in 1956 and the coming of public utilities. Gas lines were laid in 1960, followed by water lines in 1961. Since 1970, the population and the number of homes have stabilized. Today, the population is around 1,300 with approximately 600 homes in the community.
44 Cedar Trail:
Jack Simmerling, a well-known Chicago artist, preservationist and historian, owns Heritage Gallery in Chicago. He and his wife Marge divide their time between his historically significant twenty-room mansion in Morgan Park and his Cedar Trail home in Ogden Dunes.
Born in Blue Island, Jack Simmerling started sketching and photographing the architecture of Chicago while still in grade school. His interest in preservation grew from his experience working as a laborer during the summers for a company involved in the demolition and salvaging artifacts from a number of magnificent Chicago mansions. Since that time he has been committed to preserve what remains of Chicago’s architectural past. After graduating from Notre Dame with a B.F.A., he was blessed with the opportunity to pursue both his art and his commitment to preserve Chicago’s past.
For over sixty years, Jack has celebrated Chicago’s architecture and neighborhoods through hundreds of pen and ink drawings and water-color paintings. His work has appeared in Tanglewood Music Festival programs, Lexus advertisements, and books documenting Chicago’s architectural history. He regularly contributes his art to local community groups for calendars, note cards, and posters. A number of his prints and his water color of “The Hour Glass” are in the Historical Society’s collection.
On the opening of a 2006 exhibit of his work, “Chicago’s Storyteller in Pen, Ink and Watercolor”, at St. Xavier University, Jack said, “I feel compelled to convey a story or message. It might be about a long-lost Chicago landmark, a peaceful afternoon in the dunes of Lake Michigan, or a street in small-town America.” He describes himself as a “romantic realist.” In depicting his subjects, he does so in a way that the viewer can share his personal experience. “Without emotions, you are only filling spaces, not creating art for those spaces.” For his many accomplishments as an artist, historian, preservationist and committed citizen, he has received the Lauck Award from the University of Notre Dame and an honorary doctorate from Saint Xavier University.
He and Marge have six children. Their daughter Meg is an artist who works in the Heritage Gallery. The Gallery is located at 1915 W. 103rd St., Chicago. See also his website, http://www.simmerling.com.
Jon David Machuca
1 Skyline Drive: Home
Jon David Machuca
1 Skyline Drive: Home
Jon David Machuca
Jon David Machuca creates art from all that he sees. On this studio walk one will see his art reflected in his paintings, portraits, prints, and his pen and ink and charcoal drawings. But more impressively on visiting the Machuca home and studio, one comes away with a sense of having experienced art. This is reflected in the way Jon has laid the old Chicago Canal Street cobblestones and paving bricks that lead you on a curving path to the home; how he uses various shades of the same color to bring the rooms of the home to life; how he has extended the architectural characteristics of the original house; and how the dunes, the flora, and the oak forest become one with the home and studio.
Since his retirement as an art teacher and administrator from the East Chicago Public School System, Jon is now able to devote full time to his art. He had earlier established a reputation as an artist with his lithographs. His “Sport Series” limited edition lithographs are very popular. In describing his style and technique, Jon wrote, “I feel that each object has a history, a life of its own, and it is my responsibility to render it in a way that the observer can sense a personal relationship with the object.” Among his recent projects are the the logo design for a resort in Fiji and finishing a portrait commission.
1 Skyline Drive: Studio
Jon David Machuca
The Home and Studio
The May 1947 issue of the The Ogden Dunes Sandpiper, the occasional community newsletter, reported that the Lloyd Maxwells and two other families “are pioneers in the recently opened Skyline area, which overlooks a great sweep of Lake Michigan and much of the surrounding country.” The Maxwell’s new, impressive home on 1 Skyline Drive, cannot be seen from the road. It is one of the first of many Ogden Dunes’ homes that were designed by the late Frederic Collins, a long-time resident of Ogden Dunes. The current owners, Jon David and Joan Machuca, describe their reaction to the home in an article that appeared in Shore Magazine in January 2009. Jon recalls their visit to the home twenty-four years ago when it was on the market. As he peered “through the window of the ahead-of-its-time cement block and glass home, he was looking straight through to the dunes on the other side …” He said to his wife, “Joan, this is where I want to live.”
In addition to his creative additions to the Collins home, he also designed the new garage/studio that sits along Skyline Drive. Jon’s curving path leads from his studio along the dune to the house, decks and patios. With just enough wall to hold up the house, the glass windows in every room insure that the panoramic views “of stunning landscape” are the same whether you are inside or outside.
Along the path one finds a “sculpture fence – copper tubing with colored glass toppers. … [and] is shaped to echo the undulating dunes.” Many plantings, including the wild ginger and blood wort, along this and other paths are indigenous, thus less likely to be eaten by deer.
At the fork of the path stay right to the lower level great room. The great room, recently added and designed by the Machucas, replaced a smaller glassed-three season room. The great room and the kitchen/dining areas come alive through the texture of the walls, the use of color, and the large windows to the east and west that open up the oak forest and the deep ravines. Note the artistic chess set and table that Jon created using tinker toys and wooden spools. This level originally provided only limited living space, serving primarily as a furnace and laundry room. The laundry room was on the east side and was closed off by folding doors. The patio off the great room has also been greatly expanded.
As one goes up the stairs to the second level, note the small ¾ bath, on the right. It is another creative addition. At the top of the stairs please take time to read the framed articles about the house over time (taken from the Gary Post-Tribune, American Home, the Lake Magazine and, most recently, the Shore Magazine). This level was the main living area. The large windows to the east and west linked the outside to the dining/living room. The living room has an impressive fireplace made of polished cobblestones from another old Chicago street. Off the dining area was a small kitchen; it is now a fancy bar.
The next stop is up the half stairway to the master bedroom, originally two small bedrooms with separate doors to the south patio. The bathroom is also recently designed. Note the patterns of the tile and the use of color. The full-length mirror in the hallway is framed by the use of color that creates a shadow effect of the mirror. The large bedroom now has a 270 degree view of the dunes. The sloping roof, original to the house, creates almost a cathedral ceiling. Collins used this technique in a number of his homes. The bedroom opens up to a large southern patio. This provides great views, even of the lake to the northeast. The plantings and the paving stones provide a sense of serenity and security. The spacious deck on the west side of the home is built on the roof of the great room. The careful selection of deck furniture, pillows, flowers and natural plantings reinforce the sense of serenity and peace.
The path on the east side leads down to a lower level deck. Again one is impressed by the plantings and built-in deck seating. The views of the lake to the northeast are particularly spectacular. The path then leads back to the studio. On entering the studio one is impressed with the large windows to the east and south. The windows follow the pattern of the windows in the home, as does the upward sloping roof that extends over the garage to the west.
The studio looks like a garage along Skyline, but opens to the same views that one sees from the house. The walls on the east and south are all glass, opening onto a wrap-around deck that overlooks a 30-foot ravine. Looking out, you become part of nature; looking in, you see his lithographs and paintings “all washed in natural light.” [quote from “External Masterpiece” by Julie Kessler inShore Magazine, January 24, 2009]
The lighting in the studio, as well as all through the home, is designed by Jon to draw attention to the little creative details that characterize the living and work space. Within the studio, one finds examples of Jon’s artistic talent, both completed and in progress. The portraits and his painting of the steel mills are impressive. One sees examples of his lithographs from his Sports Series and an article on his award as “best” of show for his artistic creation of the Crown Point “Bull Dog”.
This home reflects the artistic talent of both Jon Machuca and the late Fred Collins. Architect Fredric Collins was introduced to Ogden Dunes by Kathryn Monahan, whom he married in 1944. His courting of Kathryn led to his lifelong love affair with the Indiana dunes. Between 1945 and 1949 seven of the homes that he designed were built in Ogden Dunes. All are different, yet all share the common characteristic of becoming part of their landscape. This is especially evident in the Machuca home. It was designed to sit at the top of a narrow dune that runs north to south from Skyline Drive and to provide panoramic views of dunes and oak forests.
Although Fred Collins’ architectural firm came to be known for its large commercial and public projects in northwest Indiana, Fred continued to do limited residential work, primarily for friends and neighbors. His contributions to Ogden Dunes, which span six decades, include fifteen original homes, 16 major additions or redesigns, and an addition to the Community Church. On his retirement in the 1990s, Fred returned to his first love, being an artist. In October 2005, the year that he died, the Historical Society’s “The Hour Glass” museum mounted a major exhibit of Collins’ architectural work and his art.
10 Ogden Road: Home & Studio
The John Petrou family moved into a new home at 10 Ogden Road in 1962. It is a bi-level home with an English basement. His own and other pieces of art complement the living space. The large limestone fireplace gives character to the living room.
In this home, John, a social studies teacher, administrator and coach in the Gary School System, and his wife raised their family and became part of the community. John was a major contributor to the success enjoyed by Ogden Dunes soccer teams through the seventies. [Dee-Jay and Tom were in 2nd and 1st grade in 1969]
Today, John, now a retired teacher/administrator, is extending his artistic skills. He works primarily in oils and acrylics on canvas. In a 2006 exhibit of “Artists of the Dunes” at “The Hour Glass”, John showed his oil painting, “Beached”, and his acrylic work, “Seven Maidens”. The latter reflects his interest in his Greek heritage. He also does smaller pieces, such as painted Christmas tree ornaments.
138 Shore Drive: Home & Studio
138 Shore Drive: Home & Studio
Vickie Combs is, by profession, a registered nurse and, by avocation, an artist specializing in glass. About ten years ago, when she was taking time off from nursing to care for her young family, she was attracted to the beauty of glass. This led her to working with a stain-glass artist in Miller. By trial and error she has perfected her technique and her art. Today her art work includes jewelry, vases, plates and some three-dimensional stain glass creations.
Vickie works primarily with fusible glass. She begins by cutting, at least, two fusible panes of glass into the shapes that she desires. It is a three-day process. The first day the glass is melted, i.e., fused, in her kiln. On the second day it is heated or shaped in the kiln by placing it over a mold. After it cools on the third day in the kiln, she polishes it. Her work, with its shapes and colors, also reflects her home and studio. Both are filled with vibrant colors and geometrical and flowing shapes.
Home and Studio
Leslie and Lytta-Jean Combs built their new home on the western end of the Shore Drive in 1959, joining a number of other young Gary couples who were building homes on large lots on the lake or on dunes overlooking the lake. The Combs enrolled their children in the Portage schools, including their youngest James who was in 1st grade. A few houses west Fred Collins was designing a number of high-end homes, including his own. Combs, a Gary contractor and developer, built a number of large commercial and public buildings, many of which were designed by Collins. In 1990, the elder Combs sold their home to their son Jim and his wife Vickie. Built in a dune, the original home was one-story off Shore Drive and two-story when it opened to the lake shore. The living room is a two-story cube with a full glass wall facing the lake.
Recently, Jim and Vickie completed a major addition and redesign of the original home. They replaced the breezeway and court yard that separated the house from the garage with a two-story addition that also extends over part of the original home. They also added a four-season room of the shore side of the house. The front door opens into a large hallway. On the left is the newly remodeled kitchen. The north side of the kitchen opens into an enclosed patio. To the right is a hallway that leads to bedrooms on the left and a game room on the right. Along the hallway hang three panoramic photos taken by Jim when he was young. The game room opens into the large new addition, a two-story great room, lighted by high large windows. The textured west wall is especially impressive; the south wall has a nice entertainment center. Sliding mahogany and glass doors can close off this room from the rest of the house. The modernistic stairs lead up to a balcony overlooking the room. The east side of the balcony opens into the master bedroom suite that includes an office, a master bath with impressive lake views, and master bedroom with its own elevator to the lower level.
The west side of the balcony opens into Vickie’s studio that contains her kiln, saws, work area and supplies. It also doubles, at times, as a laundry room with a small washer/dryer. The studio has large windows that provide light and a western view of the lake.
On returning to the main floor, one goes down the stairs to the living room. A large, two-story fire place takes up most of the east wall. On the south wall is a portrait of one of Jim and Vickie’s sons, painted by Jean Bargeron, whose studio is also on the tour. To the right of the living room are a second kitchen and game area. The area opens into the new “four-season” room with its fire place. In turn, this room opens onto the patio and yard that contains a small swimming pool.
As with other homes in Ogden Dunes, the street side view gives an impression of a rather small house. Instead we find a large, spacious, modern home that also provides a very comfortable living space for a family with two active pre-teen sons, as well as two busy and large bulldogs.
141 Shore Drive: Home & Studio
Since her retirement as a French teacher in 2002, Manda Kazmier has become a serious and respected weaver. Although Manda’s immigrant mother was a weaver, Manda, who inherited her talent, did not begin weaving until she retired. On retirement, she joined the Chesterton Weaver’s guild and began to take lessons to develop her art. Since that time, she has become a recognized weaver. She participates annually in the School House Art Fair. In the 2006 exhibit, sponsored by the Historical Society, Manda exhibited a woven blanket and a lady’s scarf. More recently Manda was one of 28 artists selected to participate in a juried exhibit “Interwoven Expressions” at the Aberdeen Art Fair. This year she exhibited at the Portage Public Library, the Tall Tree Arboretum, near Valparaiso, and the Parkinson’s Symposium.
Manda prefers to work with natural yarn, especially alpaca and merino wool and silk. One loom lends itself to the woolen yarn, while the other is used to create more intricate patterns. Her work includes blankets, scarves, coats, sweaters, and even purses.
The Home and Studio:
Henry and Manda Kazmier moved into 141 Shore Drive in April 1969, buying the Phillips cottage. At that time, Hank was an Associate Professor in the Chicago City colleges. Manda taught French at Evergreen Park High School. It was in this home that they raised their four children.
Evelyn and Alton Phillips in 1949 hired a Chicago architect, to design a summer cottage on a lot near the western end of Shore Drive. It had a two-story southern exposure, overlooking a steep ravine, overgrown with cotton wood trees, and a one-story front along Shore Drive. It is a concrete block structure with a raised ceiling in the living room. On the street level, the cottage had a living area with a fireplace and one bedroom; on the lower level is a bedroom and a family room that opened into a patio.
Since 1969, Manda and Hank have almost continuously expanded their home and the gardens that surround the house. Hank is an active and creative gardener. They added a fourteen-foot addition across the south side of the home. This added a second bedroom on the street-level and greatly expanded the living room that opens the view to the dunes and woods. One should note the impressive collection of art that is found throughout the home, especially Manda’s painting above the fireplace. As one moves to the stairs, look for the interesting piece, “Molve” by Djukin, a Croatian native painter; it is painted on the back of the glass.
On the lower level is a large family room and to the left, another bedroom that is now Manda’s weaving studio. The studio contains one of her looms and her art in progress. A second loom will also be displayed. Also in the family room are other examples of the family’s art collection. On exiting the home, one will move to the enclosed porch, with a cathedral ceiling and a large brick grill/fireplace. Examples of Manda’s are exhibited on the porch; some are for sale. The porch opens up to the beautiful gardens, steep ravine, and sculpture pieces, including a marble remnant, now a work of art, from Marble, Colorado. See also the bronze sculpture, “Vestal”, by Ivan Mestrovic, who had been artist in residence at the University of Notre Dame. The Kazmiers have also added the breezeway, two-car garage, a mansard roof, and a roof deck.
One will then exit up the stairs to the breezeway where one entered. In the breezeway is a woodcarving, a family commemoration chapel. The Kazmiers commissioned Jurgis Daugvila to do this piece. He is a highly respected Lithuanian sculptor who lives in Beverly Shores. Although not opened to the tour there is also a circular stairway that takes one to the roof to look out over the lake and the wonderful gardens in front and the rear of the home.
49 Sunset Trail: Home & Studio
Jet (Jeanette) A. Wittenberg is a long established and highly respected Ogden Dunes artist. Jet believes that living in the dunes and near the lake “provides her unlimited opportunities to study [nature’s] changing moods and color.”
Her work has been described as reflecting vibrant enthusiasm and sensitivity and is rich in its versatility. The paintings “reflect the intimate familiarity, feelings and sensitivity that she has with nature, flowers and children… Her colorful scenes capture the beauty and serenity of nature.” In an article in The Vidette-Messenger, Jet shared her love for art, “An artist has to really paint what’s in [their] heart … to love what [one does].”
The Indiana dunes, the subject of many of her earlier works, continue to draw her back. She has returned often to her beloved dunes for inspiration and satisfaction. Two of her duneland prints are in the Historical Society’s art collection, “Winter Wonderland” and “Children on the Beach.”
Although Jet works primarily in oils, she continues to do water colors. In recent years the photos, sketches and memories from family travels provide Jet an unlimited reservoir for subjects for her paintings. The themes of her paintings range from images taken from her backyard garden to scenes of the European countryside to large canvases of animals of eastern Africa. A recent and exciting project involving Jet and her husband Ken is a series of children’s books on young animals of Africa. The first, Orphans of the Jungle, was published in 2008; the second is on the drawing board with the completion date scheduled for late autumn.
A number of galleries have or are handling her art work, including Image Station Art on Maui, DeBouver Fine Arts Gallery, and Masterpiece Gallery of Indianapolis. She has participated in over a hundred juried and one-person art shows. In the 1970s, she was invited to exhibit in the annual show of the Hoosier Salon. At the time, this was quite an honor for a young artist.
The House and Studio
In 1962 Jet and Ken Wittenberg contracted with an Ogden Dunes builder, Robert Bjork, to build their home on Sunset Trail. They designed the house to be a nurturing home for their family of three young sons and to provide a creative environment for Jet to paint. Over time the home, with its views of the dunes and the lake to the northwest and a lovely backyard, has provided Jet with the stimulation to keep her artistic talents fresh and dynamic.
The large first floor of their home has become a gallery highlighting her work. On entering the foyer, one sees her large canvases in the den to the left and in the living room to the right. Her work is also on the stairway to her second floor studio. The studio with southeastern exposure overlooks the family’s beautiful flower garden and the duneland woods. Retracing your steps, you enter the large den. Most of the work, large canvases of the great animals of Africa, is permanently displayed. As you leave the den, go down to the lower level to view many of her oils and water colors. The themes in her work include the dunes, gardens, and European cottages. What is especially fascinating are the drawings that gave rise to what is becoming a series of children’s books on African animals.
51 Diana Road: Studio
(to enter the studio, walk up the driveway south of the home, then go
through the garden in the rear)
Jean Bargeron, a well-known landscape artist and an accomplished portraitist, works primarily in oils, though she still works occasionally in water-color and pencil. Her experience and background in business, photography, and travel have broadened her artistic talent and make her work unique. Though primarily self-taught, she has been doing art since she was a child. Her Irish-American grandmother gave her the encouragement and support to develop her natural artistic talent. Following college and marriage she began to do art in order to earn Christmas money. Walt, her husband, was completing his doctorate at the University of Michigan and she was caring for their two young children. She next became involved in a fledging art guild in Hamburg, New York. This ultimately led to a job doing free lance work for a publishing company. A few years later Jean was hired to direct the art and design department for a local newspaper.
Over time, Jean perfected her use of color. She continues to learn, to teach, and to do art. Capturing the moment is what drives her work. She seeks to portray human nature and the joy of life. Clients and other artists agree that
her paintings vibrate with color and motion. She especially enjoys working with families who ask her to do portraits.
The Lake Street Gallery in Miller exhibits her work. Many of these pieces reflect her month-long stay as a solitary artist in a small cottage in County Wexford, Ireland in 2005. She had prepared for her Irish experience by taking on a shorter excursion to New England a few years earlier. In Ireland she drove to a different site to capture the magic of the Irish countryside. Jean wrote of her stay in Ireland, “[the work] is very earthy and filled with ‘Lemon Light’ as was my daily life. That was the color that so often finished the day and so burst through after a rain storm. …. There is a story behind each of my pieces and I’ll happily relate it to you.”
Her acceptance in Ireland is reflected by being asked to show a piece of art at the ‘Portrait of Ireland 2005’ show.” She has also exhibited with the Northern Indiana Arts Association, as well as the Lake Street Gallery in Miller. Her art may also be accessed through www.jbdunes.com.
To enter the studio, one walks up the drive of her home at 51 Diana Road and through the beautiful garden at the rear of the home. The door on the left side of the garden opens into a large spacious room that has been turned into a gallery, exhibiting many of her paintings. Her studio is to the right of the gallery. There one can experience an artist at work. It is a real studio, paints everywhere, sketches on drafting tables, and pretzels to get the artist through to the next meal. Jean has three easels, two of which are almost always in use, holding works in progress. Much of her work draws upon photos and sketches from her clients or from her travels. The studio itself opens into a large, well maintained garden. Thus, she combines her two passions, art and gardening. So on most days one finds Jean either at work in her studio or her garden.
Although the home is not open for the house walk, it is itself impressive. The home is a large ranch, sited on top of a dune, overlooking the lake and the western dunes. Midwest Steel built this home in the late 1950s as a residence for its president. Later Midwest Steel sold it. In 1996 Jean and Walt Bargeron became the 3rd or 4th non-Midwest Steel owner.
The Bargerons moved to Ogden Dunes with Walt’s transfer by Bethlehem Steel. After his retirement, they decided to remain in Ogden Dunes. It has become home. Since their arrival both have been active in the community; Walt served on the Town Council and Jean has served as president of the Women’s Club.
8 Summit Road: Home & Studio
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 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 “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 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 works 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.
79 Ski Hill Road: Home & Studio
The Artist: Lee Hibbs
Lee Hibbs manifests her artistic and creative abilities in many ways. She is an accomplished flutist, a gardener, a photographer, a painter and a former teacher. She was raised in a home that appreciated art and music. Lee received a music scholarship to attend Indiana University. On graduation, she became a teacher and symphony flutist.
As an artist, Lee prides herself on her ability to work in many mediums, from water colors to prints to photography. She is also an organizer. For years she has been active with the Chesterton Art Center and the Chesterton Art Fair. She also has participated regularly in art shows throughout northwestern Indiana. For many years Lee served as a board member of the Association of Artists and Craftsmen of Porter County. Her involvement in the community included chairing the Ogden Dunes Women’s Club Art Fair, maintaining the Church gardens and building, and hand painting dunes scenes on a thousand Christmas ornaments and over six hundred sweatshirts.
“The Hour Glass Museum”, the home of the Historical Society, has a number of her duneland photographs in its collection. In its 2006 exhibit, “Artists of the Dunes”, Lee loaned her etching, “Polliwog Pond” and a water color, “Tying Her Shoe.”
After raising a family of four children, Duane and Lee Hibbs today use their home as a gallery for their personal art collection, reflecting the work of artists from around the world. Instead of displaying her work, she surrounds herself in her home and garden with art of others; it is this that continues to inspire and shape her own work.
The Home and Studio
To insure that Lee lives her art, she designed the family home at 79 Ski Hill Road in 1963. From how it is sited on the lot to the location of windows and the interior layout, the home is a studio and a gallery. The interior space is integrated into its natural surroundings and its planned garden.
On entering the home, one immediately feels its warmth and openness. The large windows in the living and dining rooms draw the outside into the home. Encouraging the serenity of the home are the earth-tone colors of the rooms. These and the others rooms provide the background for the art that Lee and Duane have collected on their many trips abroad. The focal point of the living room is the fireplace which frames examples of their art, as well as one of her own photographs of Lake Michigan.
From the living room one enters the dining room, which overlooks a large wooden deck and a beautiful flora and sculpture garden that flows into the surrounding woods. In the dining room are examples of her print-making blocks and examples of her art work. A long hall/gallery that opens into the bedrooms have become a temporary exhibit of Lee’s water colors, drawings, and photography. Two of the bedrooms can be viewed from the gallery; one of these has a wall-size mural that Lee painted and a display of digitally enhanced photographs of hands; again numerous works of art are seen in the bedrooms.
On the lower level is a large family room. In it are works of art from members of her family and art collected by her mother. To the right of the family room is the “jungle closet” a work of art that Lee created for her grandchildren. To the left are two rooms, the first is her studio (that sometimes doubles as the laundry room). It is in this room that she generally works, with her computer, paints, brushes, and supplies. The next room, the guest bedroom, can sleep as many as six grandchildren. For the walk, it will exhibit many pieces of her work, especially those that are inspired by the lake and the dunes. Examples of her work will also be offered for sale.
The lower level opens out onto a large patio and deck. The patio has a small artistic fountain. Beyond the patio are the beautiful flower gardens and her creative sculpture garden. Water and other refreshments will be available on the deck.
Duane Hibbs, a retired engineer and an active cyclist and runner, and Lee, who was one of the founding teachers of the Sandpiper pre-school program in Ogden Dunes, remain active contributors to the Ogden Dunes community. They both have held leadership roles in the Community Church and in almost every community organization. Duane also served as president of the Town Board as it navigated the issues and challenges of saving the dunes.
The Historical Society thanks those who have participated in this House/Studio tour. As you finish the tour, you are welcome to come by “The Hour Glass” for refreshments and to visit our exhibits.
We also wish to express our great appreciation to the nine artists and their families who have made their homes and/or studios available for viewing. They are justly proud of their work and their living environment. We also acknowledge the generosity of the major benefactors. Without their support, we could not have mounted this worthwhile project. And we thank the docents who have given their time to make this, The House/Studio Tour, run smoothly.