Tour of Nellieville: Sundays at 1 PM
July 10 Cancelled
Join Peter Beerits for an insider tour of his sculptural, historical, ever-evolving village (approx 40 min). Donations welcome.
When I was in graduate school is Southern California, half a life-
time ago, I wanted to make “installations”: the bar at Arnoldi’s in Santa Barbara, with its framed hand of cards and stuffed jackalope head; the lunch room (it was an antechamber to the men’s room) at the steel warehouse where I worked swing shift. But this type of artwork takes vision, a venue and an audience, if not a patron!—resources an art student is unlikely to have on hand. So, I came east and started the jelly business and slowly, during years of hard work and struggle, the pieces of Nellieville began to assemble on the shadowy margins of life.
I cleared a patch of woods and placed sculptures among the trees. Visitors started to come. I began a story about the journey to Deer Isle from Los Angeles: Episode 1 of The Nervous Nellie Story. On a trip west, I bought a postcard of a vanished Western town, Bodie, evoking memories of my childhood---my mother’s stories of cowpunching in Montana during World War II and a magical tin Western town that I still have today. It took me years to actually find Bodie, a ghostly presence in the High Sierra.
With the new millennium, Neville Hardy closed his store—the last idiosyncratic neighborhood market on the island. He laughed when I told him it belonged in a museum. I moved it to Nervous Nellie’s, not realizing that I was starting a village. The evolving plot of The Nervous Nellie Story took me to Clarksdale, Mississippi; I was entranced by the Delta and came back to build a juke joint. People loved it, which emboldened me to build a piece of my childhood Western town: the Silver Dollar Saloon.
By the sixth episode of the Nellie Story, the sculptures and the Story had merged. The Rosebud County jail followed the saloon, and a lawyer (Attorney Cerraduras of the Story) came next, with a fortune teller upstairs. The population of Nellieville now stands at 24, and season by season it grows. I have lived and worked so long that the images of my childhood and the ambitions of my art school years have taken center stage. Now I sweep the floors and tend the gardens in a town that once existed only in my head.