Ken Eberle and Leo Groff Jr. are nature enhancers. The gentlemen from Ellis are skilled artists. Ken is skilled in the art of wood turning and Leo in the art of carving hard shelled gourds. These fine gentlemen are the artists behind “Wood Turning & Gourds,” the feature exhibit at the Dane G. Hansen Memorial Museum on Friday through Aug. 28.
In the woodcarving circle, Eberle is known as a wood turner, someone who works on a lathe. At first, Eberle copied the work of other turners. Then he was told by two of the best known turners in the country, that he had proven he was a good turner and needed to create pieces that had not been done before.
After many tries, Eberle came up with a unique design. His wood pieces have been featured in “Wood Turning Design” magazine. Eberle now only produces one-of-a-kind items. After being published in many magazine and newspaper articles, Eberle’s work is now being copied by others. His work is all-natural wood with no artificial color added.
Prior to 1985, Groff Jr. wasn’t even aware there was such a thing as hard shelled gourds or that he possessed any artistic talent whatsoever. After growing a crop of gourds and doing some research, he discovered the American Gourd Society. Over time, Groff slowly learned to decorate gourds using various techniques. After a few years, Groff began attending gourd shows sponsored by the many State Chapters of the American Gourd Society, where he learned valuable lessons from established artists. After retirement in 2004, he pursued his gourd art full-time and developed a favorite style. Most of his designs and techniques are influenced by the art of the Navajo and Hopi tribes of the Southwestern United States.
Eberle and Groff are masters in the art media they have chosen.
Museum hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays and holidays.