by Jodi Diedrich
If you ever have cause to pull into Monne Haug’s driveway, don’t be surprised if you
find your mind wandering into a reverie of times long past, when grandpa doled out
sticks of gum like pirate’s treasure to his favorite (wink) grandkids and grandma always
smelled like a mixture of talcum powder and baking flour. Whether it’s the myriad
garden spaces, the grove of stately oak trees, the placid pond, or the well loved exterior of
her house that takes you there is hard to say, but there you are, marveling at the wonder
of it all and sure that your favorite cookies are baking inside.
Cookies or not, entering Monne’s home only enhances the atmosphere of simpler times
when generations of families lived together in the same house, when everything was
made by hand, or bought via the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Look closer and you’ll see
that even Monne’s art plays its part, mooring the house like an anchor to the ideals of
love, family and fidelity.
Unwittingly, a modern-day teenager, cell phone in hand, enters, fast forwarding the
scene into the present day, where Monne, a bundle of contagious energy, presides as a
contemporary matriarch. Smiling, she introduces her granddaughter and explains that
her home is often a multigenerational home, bustling with family, both immediate and
extended. And it’s easy to see that she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Not surprisingly, Monne grew up on a family farm. In those days, she satisfied her
love of art by sewing in 4-H and decorating her classmates notebooks with pictures and
designs. The rest of the time, like a good farmer’s daughter, she busied herself with
more practical things, caring for livestock, cooking, and cleaning. Even when she grew
up, art took a back seat to practicality, and for many years, she worked as a self-taught
upholsterer, getting what creative satisfaction she could in the work she did.
Then one day, Mark Whiteside suggested to her that she check out the art classes at the
Women’s Club, where she met Gerhard Kroll, who was teaching a class in sculpture. It
was this class that opened her eyes to her long suppressed need to create. Surrendering
herself to the artist within, she began to sculpt. Once she had enough pieces to sell, she
started accompanying Dennis Bain to art shows, often traveling for many miles to find
buyers for her sculptures. Later, she found she could sell her pieces at the Renaissance
Faire in Bristol, which was closer to home, allowing her to travel less and create more.
Over the years, she has taken her artistry in a number of different directions. She has
made face castings out of ceramic, worked with children at schools in District 59 in
Illinois to paint murals, collaborated with Tom Clark and neighborhood children to make
and decorate pots for Lemon Street Gallery, and carved and painted amazing outdoor
benches from wood. She is currently working with glass, shaping it and fusing it to create
eye-catching pieces, everything from wall-size mirrors to colorful fish that can hang in
your window. She also teaches art classes at Paideia Academy as a guest artist and has
her work on display at Lemon Street Gallery, Anderson Art Center, Carolyn’s Coffee
Connection, Embellished Heart, and Bella Beads in Mundelein, Illinois.
When asked to name other artists that she admires, Monne lists Niki de Saint Phalle, who
has done whole houses in mosaic and Isaiah Zagar, who, together with children and other
adults from the area, created amazing mosaic murals on the sides of two buildings on
Washington Avenue in Racine. Another person Monne felt merited her admiration was
Fred Haug, her husband. She pointed out that without him everything would fall apart
around her. He is the one that not only keeps her power tools running, but cheerfully
supports her hectic way of life, and even lets her use his pool table sometimes as a work
When you do drop in to see Monne, you will find her art, both finished and in progress,
on display throughout her house. In another home, this colorful mayhem might be
considered clutter, but in the Haug residence, it’s more like artistic flourish that only
serves to enhance that wonderful old-fashioned ambience of home-sweet-home that
permeates every nook and cranny of Monne Haug’s wonderful world.