Commonweal Theatre Company Website




Download the Commonweal Theatre’s

PDF Brochure for the Self-Guided Tour

of the Commonweal Stash.





As an archaeologist sifts through artifacts to discern the nature of a group of individuals, so is this installation the result of culling the detritus of Lanesboro’s local culture. Regional debris was amassed, categorized, processed, and then displayed as though by a museum curator. The objects collectively whisper an anthropological tale — befitting of the narrative spirit of the theater in which they are now housed.







The ceiling above the restroom entries is encrusted with the plastic detritus of our modern generation a nod to the gender-specific symbology of the colors blue and pink.


In the interiors, reclaimed wood and hinges frame the stalls.


Salvaged slate chalkboards serve as stall dividers so that anyone feeling the creative urge to write or draw can do so in erasable chalk.


The door pulls are made from salvaged hammer heads and the coat racks from salvaged hand tools.




Donor Pantry


Folks often save their personal treasures — pennies, preserves, buttons, fasteners, and so on — on a shelf over the years for ‘later’.


Rather than an array of brass plaques or the like, this design of 250 Mason jars gives the capital campaign donors an opportunity to have some personal reference preserved in the history of the new building.



The Lobby Ceiling’s Winged Tools


Karl Unnasch’s work often represents our relationship with the natural world. The floating tools suspended from the ceiling are arranged as a flock of birds would move through the air. These items have former lives as utilitarian objects. Arrayed as a whole, the entire ‘flock’ becomes a melting pot of histories that make up the patchwork of Midwestern culture.


The flight pattern begins at the main entry into the lobby, with chronologically older tools — mauls, axes, handsaws, fence posts, shovels, and so on — and progresses toward more labor-specific gear as one moves toward the theatre doors. The pattern winds its way around the windmill propeller (referencing labor and wind), separating the flock into two distinct categories: the Industrials (on the left) and the Domestics (on the right).


Like a genetic mutation, tools referencing our relationship with animals (the Agrarians) has migrated off to the left of the flock and mutates into the Recreationals. The swarm splits again as it encounters the Ark (the bed frame), then regroups and narrows its flight path down to the final winged element (a helmet) representing the mind of the artist/creator.


Running the length of the lobby is a stone wall embedded with reclaimed objects; the opposing wall features trim and benches of old barn wood. Winged objects overhead tell a cultural tale.



Diorama Key


Starting nearest the box office:

Welding Helmet Master Builder

Oven Our Town

Mail Slot Gulliver’s Travels

Keyhole Taming of the Shrew

Brownie Camera Zombies From The Beyond!

Tackle Box Greater Tuna

Birdhouse A Christmas Carol

Mailbox The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged

Bread Box Quilters

Gas Can Ghosts

Oval Picture Frame - Art

Rectangular Painted Mirror Much Ado About Nothing




Karl Unnasch -- Public Art, Stained Glass and Sculpture
Commonweal Stash

Karl Unnasch Public Art, Stained Glass and Sculpture


HOME   |   Public Art & Sculpture   |   Stained Glass   |   About the Artist   |   Project Index   |   Gallery   |   Summer Apprenticeships   |   Upcoming Events   |   Sitemap   |   Contact

A Beguiling Glimpse into Local Culture

To view other works by Karl Unnasch, visit the Public Art page.

Or, go directly to the Project Index


Other Rurally Themed Works by Karl Unnasch:


Web design courtesy of SQVIBL



Copyright Notice for Karl Unnasch.  All rights reserved.

On Facebook, by


Pilot Mound Design.

Follow the Art of Karl Unnasch:

On Twitter, by



HOME   |   Public Art & Sculpture   |   Stained Glass   |   About the Artist   |   Project Index   |   Gallery   |   Summer Apprenticeships   |   Upcoming Events   |   Sitemap   |   Contact

Special thanks go out to:


· Commonweal Theatre

...for its interest, trust, and commitment in offering such a unique challenge.


· Leland McMillen

Commonweal patron Leland McMillen was a great help on this project. He donated the reclaimed red oak barn beams, the sawn walnut for the benches and the stone for the Diorama Wall. He also spent many hours helping construct the stone walls. Lee is a colorfully wonderful person and his many conversations with Karl during the mortaring phase helped to influence the flavor of the work.


· Don Brace

...also known as the Pinball King of Rochester, for assisting with the electrical layout for the Donor Pantry.


· Nicole Huss


at the Commonweal Theatre

in Lanesboro, Minn.



.               Installed 2007




Diorama Wall

Donor Pantry

Almost all of the tools have one of seven different types of wings. The series represents common flying warmbloods and includes: Sparrows/Starlings, Owls, Waterfowl, Pigeons/Crows, Hummingbirds, Hawks/Eagles and Bats.



Diorama Wall


Within all twelve objects embedded in this wall are small dioramas depicting scenes from Commonweal productions pre-2007.