From Crafting

Barndogglers EP 4: Follow the Redwood to Fargo

The economy of Fargo is booming; there’s no better way to describe it. Nearly 10 people are moving to Fargo every day. With such an influx of people moving to the windy northern plains the demand for homes is great and home construction is thriving.

VanDoren in Studio
Travis VanDoren

In Fargo the Barndogglers have made a new friend of custom home builder, Travis VanDoren owner of VanDoren Building Co. Travis has built a home on the prairie that is truly a work of art. In fact, one might consider Travis more of an artist than a builder. Artists name their paintings; Travis names the homes he builds. This home is named after a prairie grass native to the area called “Dudley’s Rush”. Dudley’s Rush’s story began two years ago as Travis started sketching one late night at his “garage style” studio.

 The initial design was modest. But as planning progressed and construction began, Travis began to realize the home’s potential. His vision of some unique architectural details eventually led Travis to meet the Barndogglers. Travis wanted to use reclaimed barn wood for an entryway accent. This wood would be displayed like a recessed painting with back lighting. The most important thing to Travis was that the wood be authentic, that it had a story to tell, and that it’s history would live on in Dudley’s Rush. Oh, and it should also be beautiful. This is exactly the type of project the Barndogglers enjoy helping the most.

The Klassen Barns Redwood Has a New Home at Dudley's Rush
The Klassen Barns Redwood Has a New Home at Dudley’s Rush

Come “Follow the Redwood to Fargo” as Mike Burke takes Travis out Barndoggling to the Klassen barn where Travis finds the material he needs to create his art. The redwood from the Klassen Barn will live on in Fargo.



Reclaimed Lumber Artwork by Melissa Ozment

The Barndogglers are excited to introduce Melissa Ozment as a featured artist. Melissa is a local artist and sculptor who has a unique impressionistic style. She makes bold use of color and form with spectacular results using the Barndogglers repurposed media.

Melissa will paint on almost any medium the Barndogglers can provide , whether barn siding, doors, window sashes, or galvanized metal. Melissa comes from a small town and relates to all the products the Barndogglers dig up. All of Melissa’s works are unique and show the spirit and emotion that only a true artist possesses. There is nothing clichéd or derivative with the combination of Melissa’s and the Barndogglers art. Every piece has a history and a story. All pieces are original and one of a kind, discovered and crafted by hand.

Besides being a great artist, Melissa is a proud mother of two lively children, Irelyn, 6 and Landon, 4. She works from home painting while raising two active children. The Barndogglers support all mothers in all occupations and are proud to be participating at the Mother’s Day Bazaar in Eau Claire, WI May 2nd as a tribute to all Mothers.  Mike from Barndogglers still on the line.

Painting of Telephone Line Construction

Introducing Alan Riegler, a new friend of the Barndogglers

By Mike Burke

I never thought some little, blue glass insulator could stir up such passion and would introduce the Barndogglers to some truly amazing people.  I have learned quite a bit about the history of Hemingray insulators from a technical standpoint, from the founding of the company in 1848 to its sale in 1932 to Owens-Illinois Glass Co. Oddly enough, they also manufactured gold fish bowls. It’s all there on the Internet with just a little digging… or “doggling.”      The truly amazing discovery from the Hemingray research was not about a product, but about an artist named Alan Riegler. Ben our producer, partner and an all around great Barndoggler came across a painting of a lineman while producing our latest video on the history of glass insulators. Ben called Alan to ask for permission to use his painting in our video.

Alan Rigler donating one of his paintings to the N.I.A in 2006
Alan Rigler donating one of his paintings to the N.I.A in 2006

It turns out the artist was a former lineman himself, retired from Pacific Bell Co. Ben was amazed at the artist’s story and set up a phone call between the artist and me. I called at the scheduled time and was rewarded with one of the best two hour phone calls of my life.

 Alan Riegler passed along many technical details regarding the history of telegraph wire, the expansion of communication lines across the whole country, and the dangers of working on open wire with somewhat shaky equipment. Most of his work took place in the deserts of California. That is the technical end. But on a personal level I discovered Alan Riegler is the epitome of what makes America great.

Tocopa Hot Springs, Death Valley, Early 1970's
Tocopa Hot Springs, Death Valley, Early 1970’s

Allan told me the pride he took in being a lineman, the beauty of the remote sites where he and his crew would set telephone poles, and the connection he felt with the line-setters who went before him–feeling their presence while climbing eighty year old telegraph poles.

I truly believe there are thousands of men like Alan Riegler across this country, I just thank God I had the chance to talk to one. Alan is retired now, a collector of insulators, a self-taught artist, an aspiring musician, a cancer survivor, and a believer that America is still the greatest country in the world. Alan is a true Renaissance man.

Thank you, Alan, for allowing the Barndogglers to use your painting and telling us your story–all started by a little blue insulator. Mike from Barndogglers still on the line.

View the incredible paintings created by Alan in the below album. Contact Alan to inquire about available prints.