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Peninsula Pulse

Art in an Eggshell: A profile of artist Kathy Mand Beck

Excerpt from Peninsula Pulse, 2002
By Madeline Johnson

On a recent morning I went to interview Kathy Mand Beck, owner of the Dovetail Gallery and studio in Egg Harbor. Entering her studio, I at once knew that Kathy is a rare type of artist - one who not only can paint, sculpt, sketch, and write poetry, but is also considered a maven in the small (albeit international) world of “Egg Art”. As an egg artist, Kathy has spent the last 10 years carving intricate designs into unforgiving eggshells of every known variety. She has produced an impressive exhibit of her own work and amassed a curious museum of porcelain, clay, glass, carved, sculpted, and painted eggshells created by other egg artists.

What I didn't know was how such an unusual and gifted artist came to Door County, nor how deeply artistry permeated kathy's life. Kathy, who grew up in northwestern Milwaukee, described her childhood as an introspective and imaginative one. As a child, she would draw, color, sketch, design and dress her paper dolls, decorate her school's bulletin boards, cook, sew, experiment, set design, and braid flowers; she would do anyting that allowed her to create.


As Kathy became older, she broadened her artistry first as a floral arranger, later as a skilled stain-glass artisan, and utimately as a painter and connoisseur of egg art. When asked what inspired her to become an egg artist, Kathy explained that she had once read an article about women who carve eggs that completely fascinated her and led her to begin carving herself. and, during a trip to Egg harbor in 1992, she was amazed that only one decorated egg was for sale in a village with a namesake of her newfound artistic interest.

As a result, she opened the Dovetail Gallery and Studio. The gallery itself is undeniably one-of-a-kind in Door County; it houses porcelain tiles, geometric copper sprinklers, artwork, and thousands of decroated eggs. Kathy refers to it as a “comfortable gallery” — one that allows her customers to enjoy art in a home-like atmosphere.

Kathy's small private studio, located behind the gallery on the bluff overlooking Egg Harbor, has a similar quality. Kathy invited me into her lofted log cabin studio and I quickly gained an appreciation for her artistic process. To start, she opened the cabin with a hot pink key. Once inside, she donned a cape and attached an ostrich plume to her soundproof headphones. “This is where it happens,” she smiled and then began using her high-speed drill to intricately carve the delicate shells. While I watched her work, the imaginative and introspective personality she had described became endearingly evident.

Through Kathy's warmth and artistry one finds a bit of a Renaissance woman, but she also has an approachable and disarming demeanor. She carries a contagious sense of wonder about art and life, and she's one of the most positive people I've intereacted with in recent memory. I highly recommend a stop at the Dovetail Gallery. It's worth it not only for the art, but also for the chance to meet one of Door County's most unique and insightful artists.