Fantasy, Whimsy, & Nature Inspired New Murals in Stumpf Hobbit House Restroom

Stop at the Stumpf Hobbit House during your next visit at the Garden and you will be transported to a fantastical world of tiny tree houses, fanciful foliage, and friendly woodland creatures. These marvelous murals are credited to Peter Koury, a talented artist and garden lover.

Stumpf Hobbit House Restroom

Here’s Peter to tell you about his experience painting the murals in each side of the Hobbit House Restroom, including his inspiration behind the designs and his background as an artist.  

Q: What is your inspiration behind the murals?

A(Peter): “As far as the inspiration, I mean I guess it was the call for art that the botanical garden put out. It’s something that I’ve always liked, fantasy art. Especially with kids, I have two small girls, and I’ve done murals for them, so it kind of fits. And I’m a gardener. I didn’t need a whole lot of inspiration because it was in my wheelhouse.”

Peter drew upon many experiences and influence throughout his life to create an environment that is aesthetically pleasing while fueling the imagination. He has childhood memories viewing a Peter Pan mural from his doctor’s office, the wonder created by favorite fantasy books, and his love of flora and fauna.

Q: What does each bathroom mural look like and how did you choose those designs?

A: “Each bathroom is filled with woodland creatures in a fantasy type setting. I presented a preliminary concept of each wall, but the details all unfolded as I worked on the project. I improvised through the process, as ideas and images came to me.”

Q: What got you into artistry/painting?

A: “I was always into drawing/art as a whole. My grandmother helped further that interest and she actually became an art student later in life.”

Peter progressed from drawing to painting in his 20s, more as a natural evolution than any specific decision to do so. 

Q: What inspires you as an artist in general?

A: “It was sort of innate, I don’t know that there was any sort of inspiration. It was sort of always there, and I had a grandmother who was a painter and she went back to college later in life, and I would tag along with her out to (UW)GB, and I don’t know, it just was there.”

Peter’s most recent inspiration comes from the many opportunities he’s received. He is humbled and honored that people still recognize the need and value of art, particularly during these times.

Q: Did you study art or take classes?

A: “I went to MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design) in Milwaukee for a year.” He said he took real basic courses, more foundational courses.

“I generally try to say it’s sort of self-taught (his art), which it mostly was because it was trial and error. You know, nowadays, you can just click on a YouTube video … and see things (get instruction), which is fantastic because when I was learning, that wasn’t an option.”

Q: Why did you apply for this opportunity to paint these murals?

A: “I was drawn to this project for multiple reasons. I loved the idea of influencing, inspiring future artists with this piece as I was as a kid.”

He’s also been enraptured with the idea of a doorway into another reality for as long as he can remember. He loved the chance to contribute a fixture to the Green Bay community while supporting his own passions as an avid gardener. It all just came together as the perfect project.

Q: What other pieces/painting opportunities do you typically pursue?

A: “I’ve done a number (of murals) over the years, I kinda go back and forth. I took some time off when the girls were born and sort of stayed at home.”

Peter mainly looks for opportunities that allow for a certain amount of creative freedom and support an underlying passion. He currently has mural designs at Nakashima’s, El Azteca, and many others.

Q: What do you want people to feel when they look at the murals? 

A: “This imagery is intended for all ages. My hope is people feel transported, inspired, and feel a sense of magic, of getting lost in another realm while inside the Hobbit House.”

Q: What has been your favorite memory or part of painting these murals?

A: “Most of them (the good memories from making these murals) are the creatures I keep running into. I’ve had a number of different frogs and insects. You know the best part of it obviously is being able to walk out here in the gardens.”

Peter has become very familiar with the grounds having spent a lot of time at the Garden over the years. He enjoyed being able to return to the Garden for the project. 

Q: Is there anything else about this process or your work that you would like us to know?

A: “I would just like to say I’m grateful for this opportunity – being part of the Gardens, the community support, working with Susan (Executive Director) and the rest of the Board having chosen me for this project. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to showcase my work in a project such as this.”

Make sure you stop by the Hobbit House during your next visit to the Garden to see the murals in person!

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