“I work in sculpture. My medium is metal sculpture, mainly, aluminum and stainless steel. Some of the surfaces are painted and some are textured. I’m also known for my things that are kinetic. Most of my outdoor work is kinetic. They have one or two parts that move in the wind, and they usually move through something so they look like they’re going to collide – but they hopefully never do. Some people would say my work is abstract, but it’s usually based on some theme. It isn’t just random abstractness.

Doing the piece for Goshen College in front of the rec fitness center – that really kind of set my style the way I’m working now. That piece has kind of resonated with a lot of people. Where things are made up of parts but put together to make a total piece, that’s kind of become what I do. That piece led to other commissions that have gotten me where I am today.

This is a great area to live in. The community in Goshen, with Goshen College and the community being interested in the arts, they’ve been very supportive and that’s been really helpful. When I started out, no one was really interested in what I did around here. I’ve noticed in the last 10 years that a lot of my commissions are in northern Indiana, down to Indianapolis, and in southern Michigan. That’s much more convenient. It’s really nice not to have to drive three or four days to deliver something, even though I miss those drives. It’s really nice to be recognized in the area.

Almost all the commissions that I’m doing now, someone has come to me and inquired about my doing something. And that’s really gratifying because when you start out, you’re out there trying to generate interest in your work and it doesn’t always go well. But now I’ve done it long enough that people are coming to me. They recognize what I do and want me to make something special for them, or their city or corporation.

I’ve been doing this for what, 30-some years? There are a lot of young artists in Goshen, and I hope I can be a role model for them in some ways – that you just have to keep working at it and not give up.”

John Mishler - Goshen Arts Council
John Mishler - Goshen Arts Council

“The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail piece was made to honor and commemorate John Yoder’s retirement from being president of the Pumpkinvine for 30 years. He really got that going. Now it’s really an integral part of the Goshen-Middlebury-Shipshewana community.

It took me a while to come up with the design, as often they do. The sculpture itself suggests the vine in Pumpkinvine. There’s a round part and a rectangle part that are intertwined. It looks really easy, but it was really hard to make that work. At the top of the sculpture is a kinetic element that turns. The ends of the kinetic element are textured like the spokes of a bicycle.

The bench is connected to the sculpture. The bench part, the seating part, is very similar to some other benches that I’ve made. The interesting thing is that it’s connected to a sculpture; I’d never done that before. That became a technical nightmare at times. It was really hard to get that to work, but I got it to work. There were a lot of firsts with this.

I’d never done a bench with a back on it. There are two circles that are connected – it looks like the center part of a bicycle. The circles are also textured to look like the spokes of a bicycle. I used paints on parts of the sculpture. The blue paint kind of relates to the sky. Also, I used copper wire-colored paint, which to me is kind of a pumpkin color.

It’s interesting…a lot of my commissions are for people who are art-related or interested in art. The Pumpkinvine piece is different. It’s for people who are interested in art and the sculpture itself, but it also reaches out to a lot of people who are interested in biking, running, that sort of thing. It’s reaching out to a whole different group of the population.”

John Mishler - Goshen Arts Council
John Mishler - Goshen Arts Council
John Mishler - Goshen Arts Council