and Alisha Brundege's love of art is seen in their castle-like Rogersville
and Alishia stand in front of a wall-size portrait of the Madonna
they began painting one Christmas Eve. They call her Our Lady
of Perpetual Construction.
As the saying goes, A
mans home is his castle. Thats the case for one couples
home in Rogersville, a few miles east of Springfield.
Since 1971 artist Jeff Brundege
has taken an acre of land and what used to be a small stucco bungalow
and turned it into a stylish 4,000-square-foot masterpiece.
Our house is definitely
high maintenance and its not a project for the light-hearted,
says Jeff, as he surveys the kingdom he and his wife, Alishia, are creating.
The Brundeges say theyve
had real estate agents and architects stop by and nearly demand they sell
the place, but Jeff and Alishia smile and say, No, thanks.
Depending on which of the numerous
doors you enter, your eyes will gaze upon a potpourri of architectural
styles from baroque, art nouveau, Afrikaans Dutch and Mongolian to name
only a few.
A staircase winds sharply upward toward turreted rooms where a encrusted
crypt-like door opens into a bathroom where a carved stone face depicting
the north wind peers into the window from a nearby gable. A sitting room
feels more like an old church sanctuary as a mural-size Madonna gazes
Gothic influences find their
way into Jeffs woodwork throughout the home, often hiding what Alishia
doesnt like sitting out in the open modern technology.
giant swan seems to float gracefully upon the raised floor in Jeff
and Alishias bedroom. The piece, carved by Jeff, has been
on display at numerous art shows.
Jeff opens a small Gothic-style
door on the wall to reveal phone and computer lines. Opposite, an ornate
wooden panel hides file cabinets and cookbooks.
A Springfield native, Jeffs
interest in art began as a young teen. An old Dutch painter living a few
houses down from Jeffs family gave young Brundege art lessons in
exchange for doing a few chores.
Id bring my easel and paints to their kitchen and his wife
would feed me wonderful sweets while he would review my last venture,
says Jeff. As I painted, hed stand behind me and if I picked
something up incorrectly, hed rap my hands with a mall stick (used
by artists to steady their hands while painting.)
The lessons were hard, but
I learned a lot.
Jeff went on to major in art
at Southwest Missouri State University and in the 60s moved to New
York, hoping to become a childrens book illustrator. He rented a
storage loft on Wall Street and hoped for a break.
I truly was the proverbial
starving artist, he says. About the only thing I had in that
loft were a lot of shelves, my art stuff and a toilet.
Out of necessity, Jeff tore
down the shelves and built a kitchen, bedroom and workspace. When people
came to the loft to view his artwork, they would comment on his woodworking
skills. He soon found himself building cabinets and remodeling lofts for
moved back to the Springfield area in 1970 to help his sister build her
home. He settled in a little cabin on her place and made cabinets and
and arched windows often find their way into Jeffs architectural
Soon after the project ended,
Jeff purchased a small bungalow and began adding on and on. And
just about every design he liked ended up in the renovation plan.
Jeffs mom saved
much of his artwork from when he was young and there are some common themes
which have ended up in our home, says Alishia. The only difference
is now its years later and were living in the art.
One might wonder how a wife
could be so tolerant of her husbands elaborate creativity. Lucky
for Jeff, Alishia is also an artist, specializing in fine art paintings.
She has also taught elementary school art classes for the past 21 years
Jeff says about anything can
inspire them to add a new addition or embellishment to their home.
My mother-in-law sent us a card and the flap on the envelope had
the most wonderful shape. It was very similar to this, Jeff says,
pointing to the ornately scalloped roofline of their large garage.
When Jeff isnt adding
on to their home, he works on commissioned art pieces in bronze, wood,
resin and ivory. He says hes never really advertised his abilities
over the years the work mainly comes to him by word-of-mouth.
Some of his more notable works
are the 12-foot-tall lions which guard the entrance of John Q. Hammons
Grand Palace Hotel in Myrtle Beach, S.C., 25 ornately carved fireplaces
at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson and a bronze bobcat created as a time
capsule on display at The American National Fish and Wildlife Museum in
I believe art needs to
pull you in and entertain you, says Jeff. I want it to tell
some kind of story.
The Webster Electric Cooperative member recently completed a commissioned
ivory piece. It was carved from a 4-foot piece of legally obtained ivory
tusk which took his client nearly two years to find.
addition to his own art Jeff teaches art classes at his home studio.
Usually he commissioned
functional pieces, but this time he wanted art for arts sake,
says Jeff. The tusk became a semi-nude female holding a bird on
Jeff says he has several projects
hed like to complete for their house. From a walkway with arched
openings, Jeff gazes out toward the backyard.
like water to run below this so we can look through the arches and get
that Venice effect.
If you ask Alishia which piece
of Jeffs art is her favorite, she hesitates and then says, The
house its my favorite work Jeffs ever done.
You may contact Jeff and
Alishia Brundege via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.