GRAND HAVEN, MICHIGAN – What started as a mother helping her kids with a school project during the Halloween season in 1982 turned into a “happy accident” that became a life’s-work, still on display.
Colleen Duga, who died in 2016, started making life size fiberglass papier-mâché sculptures in 1982, soon starting a business, Taper Moon Creations. Today, her artwork is on display outside and inside her husband Stu Duga’s home at 609 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI.
There are approximately 24 statues on the property, ranging from animals to witches and characters from the 1984 movie, “Gremlins.”
In the front yard there are a yellow duck, a giraffe and an elephant and a handful more inside the house, yet a majority of the statues are housed in the backyard.
The statues are made of paper and tape that are then painted and fused together with fiberglass.
One of Colleen’s most well-known pieces, “Boredom,” which depicts the “Maytag repairman,” was displayed during Grand Haven’s 2010 ArtWalk. The piece now resides in the dining room next to an “Abominable Snowman.”
Other pieces have been a part of several parades throughout the Grand Haven area, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, or were even rented out to grocery stores for display.
“Back when we started putting them in the front yard, it was really just to get them out of the house,” Stu Duga said. “I don’t know what the hell I am gonna do with them when I die.”
Stu even had to remodel their home, adding wide french doors into the entrance way so they could move statues in and out of the house more efficiently.
Stu said that each project took Colleen three to four days to papier-mâché followed by weeks to months of fiberglassing.
The statues have even turned the Duga residence into a must-see tourist attraction in Grand Haven, which is included as a stop on the Harbor Trolley tours. The neighbors have all given positive responses to the statues said Stu, who also enjoys entertaining tourists.
Grand Haven and Robinson townships have even approached Stu about selling some of his late wife’s work, but he is showing no interest in removing the statues anytime soon.
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