Tour & Talk on Fridays:

Join Peter Beerits for an insider tour of his sculptural, historical, ever-evolving village (approx 40 min).  Select Fridays at 2 PM through the Summer/Fall season.  Donations welcome. No reservations necessary.

2023 Schedule: May 19, 26, June 9, 16, 23, 30 July 7, 28, August 4, 11, 25, September 1, 8 


 From Peter -  

gas-can-sheep.jpgWhen 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.

peter-chickens.jpgI 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 sm-campus.jpgCerraduras 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.

 Peter Beerits