Ken Eberle and Leo Groff, Jr. are nature enhancers. These gentlemen from Ellis are both 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 through Aug. 28.
In the woodcarving circle, Ken is known as a wood turner, someone who works on a lathe. At first, Ken 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 he needed to create pieces that had not been done before. After many tries, Ken came up with a unique design. His wood pieces have been featured in Wood Turning Design magazine. Ken now only produces one-of-a-kind items. After being featured in many magazine and newspaper articles, Ken’s work is now being copied by others. His work is all natural wood with no artificial color added.
Prior to 1985, Leo 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, Leo discovered the American Gourd Society. Over time, Leo slowly learned to decorate gourds using various techniques. After a few years, Leo 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, Leo pursued his gourd art fulltime 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.