Where Michigan Street and 4th Avenue meet in Sturgeon Bay, there’s a confluence of business and art, living plants and steel, in the form of a garden kaleidoscope.
The steel, powder-coated framework supports a bowl of plants that serves as the object chamber for the kaleidoscope. It works by spinning the bowl to change what the viewer sees through one of three variable-height eyepieces.
Metal sculptor Robert C. “RC” Anderson specializes in these special frameworks, which he began creating in 1997 at his farm in Nasewaupee. He did art shows, and word spread. He now has installations at botanical gardens, children’s museums, hospital rooftop gardens, city buildings and private residences across the U.S. and in Japan and Canada.
One of his pieces at the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station, 4312 Hwy 42 in Sturgeon Bay, caught the eye of Tara DuBois, owner of Stangel Accounting and Tax Office on Michigan Street.
“It just floored me when I saw it,” she said.
DuBois looked Anderson up on his website and found him only miles from Sturgeon Bay. They connected. Her company now does his taxes, and he moved a kaleidoscope that had been at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to the corner of her business property a couple of weeks ago. Now anyone who’s passing by can enjoy it.
Anderson doesn’t know how it came to him to create a turning bed of plants to create the kaleidoscopic colors and shapes, but his wife’s kaleidoscope collection gave him the initial idea. He picked up welding and fabricating when he was a maintenance engineer at a California industrial plant, and classes in arts and fabrication enhanced those practical skills.
Upon retiring, Anderson returned to Wisconsin – he grew up in the southern part of the state – after finding their Nasewaupee farm.