created by Sculptor and Stained Glass Artist

Karl Unnasch

for the 2010 Minnesota Biennial

at the Soap Factory

in Minneapolis, MN




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

Or, go directly to the Project Index


“In 2010, I had the distinct opportunity to represent the Rural perspective when I was invited to participate in the Minnesota Biennial. I accepted without hesitation, with the fervent desire to create an icon that best represented Small Town/Rural values.


The result was Near-Mint Condition, an outdoor sculpture that incorporated an International Harvester 966 tractor in working condition.

Near-Mint Condition Stained Glass Tractor by Karl Unnasch
Photo Credit:  Gene Pittman

Oct. 2, 2010 —

approx. 9 min.


“A Theory of Values” Artist Profile:

Karl Unnasch Episode

(link to external audio file)


Karl Unnasch talks about his piece, “NEAR-MINT CONDITION”,

in The Soap Factory’s biennial survey show of Minnesota artists,

“A Theory Of Values”








I am particularly

taken by

Near-Mint Condition


Ruminant (the Grand Masticator)

because of

the multiple layers

in each piece;

the viewer can engage

in so many ways.

The pieces are really beautiful –

colorful, shiny, glowing...

There’s this

unexpected presence

of stained glass

in a large machine.


Kristine Frank Elias,

The Soap Factory (Minneapolis)

Director’s Blog


stained glass panels

of iconic

cultural imagery,

Karl Unnasch


an ancient

International Harvester


into a glowing

reverie of dreams…


—  The Soap Factory,



Articles & Press:


How a Minnesota Farm Boy Found His True Calling as an Incredible Stained Glass Artist, Bill Vossler, Reader’s Digest, 2016


Food for the Soul: Endless hours of daydreaming in a tractor cab now fuel this artist’s whimsical storytelling style, Bill Vossler, Farm and Ranch Living Magazine, Feb/Mar 2016


Stained Glass Tractor, Farm Show Magazine, Volume #40/Issue #2, Mar 2016


Karl Unnasch Interview, Kristine Frank Elias, Soap Factory (Minneapolis) Director’s Blog, January 16, 2014






Ruminant (The Grand Masticator)


This 2013 harvesting combine clad in stained glass is a tribute to agriculture, farming and food and is now on permanent display in Reedsburg, Wisconsin’s Harvest Park.



The “Bilbo” panel

The “Clark Kent” panel

Left and right of the engine: 

“Conan” and “Abe”

The left side of the tractor...

The right side of the tractor...

The rear of the tractor...

In the Artist’s own words:


Ultimately, the machine or object is the dominant billboard and driver of the visual language of the piece.  The narrative is devoted as homage and story.  As a subset, homage is often paid to the memories that drive the narrative as well.


Here’s the non-secret in simplified form: the tractor, the combine, any object that physically can be made into a stained glass extravaganza is treated as a potential 3D comic book. I take imagery that is gleaned for value from my interactions, memories, interests, etc. and begin to construct a disjointed narrative relative to the theme. 


I co-opt humor, play, emotive content, light, positioning, audience, shape, color, framing, proximity, etc. (into) a problem solving orchestra… which I, as Conductor, need to work into a harmonious array. 


                                                                — Karl Unnasch          

The front of the tractor...

Kung Fu

Skywalker on Tatooine

Pa Ingalls

Mr. Green Jeans and Kunta Kinte

Elvis and Godzilla

King Kong

Grizzly Adams


Jethro Bodine and the Duke Boys’ General Lee

Interview Excerpt:


What gave you the idea/the inspiration for using a tractor for your stained glass installation?


“Being raised on a 220-acre dairy farm in the 1970s and 1980s, I spent quite a bit of time doing my part to help the family earn a living.  I learned to run a John Deere B as my first introduction to hauling loads and tilling fields.  One of my teenager functions was to pull the chisel plow tilling up the spring fields for planting.  The drone of the tractor engine, the long hours spent in the cab and my fervent imagination combined to make for a place where the tractor cab became a place of almost tantric contemplation.  I got lost in my own thoughts and ideas which would have a long-term effect on my art-making ideas and solutions. 


My piece for the 2010 Minnesota Biennial, a tractor titled Near Mint Condition, became a tribute to all the popular culture “country boys” whom I saw as having some influences on my older self.  As a stained glass survey, Near Mint Condition had the appearance of not only a glowing, colorful extravaganza but became a contemplative site of rural meditation. 


Near Mint Condition was a turning point in my career in that it enabled me to further pursue solutions to public/larger outdoor art ideas that I was working on.” 


                      — Karl Unnasch          

Photo credit:  Gene Pittman

Photo credit:  Gene Pittman

Photo credit:  Gene Pittman

Photo credit:  Gene Pittman

Photo credit:  Gene Pittman

Photo credit:  Gene Pittman

A Closer Look ...






A Similar Work by Karl Unnasch:


Karl Unnasch -- Public Art, Stained Glass and SculptureNear-Mint Condition

Karl Unnasch Public Art, Stained Glass and Sculpture


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A Tribute to Heroic "Country Boys"

I transformed the tractor into a beacon of boyhood fantasy by incorporating stained glass in and upon the chassis. .


All images represented popular-culture ‘country boys’ from my childhood musings.”          



— Karl Unnasch