Today's Featured Biography
Monica Leo Leo-Jenks
Monica Leo is a first generation American, born to German refugees in the waning days of World War Two. After the war, her parents ordered a set of Kasperle hand puppets from a German craftswoman, and Monica was hooked. A graduate of the University of Iowa, Monica studied for two years at the State Art Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany with Josef Beuys.
Since 1974, she has been sole puppet creator and lead puppeteer of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre, joined, from 1975 through 2006, by artistic partner Teri Jean Breitbach. The two performed exclusively as a duo until the 1990's, when they began to incorporate musicians and other puppeteers. Through the years, Eulenspiegel has experimented with almost every type of puppet imaginable, collaborated with musicians, playwrights, directors, designers, and dancers, and worked tirelessly to hone its art form.
Eulenspiegel has been active in the Iowa Arts Council’s Artist in the Schools and Communities Program since 1977 and in Wyoming’s Artist in Education Program during the 1980’s and early 90’s. From 1981 through ‘91, Leo and Breitbach toured on the Iowa Arts Council’s Summer Touring Arts Team. Eulenspiegel has been featured at six national Puppeteers of America Festivals, numerous regional festivals, a national festival in the former German Democratic Republic (the only company invited from a non-Communist country), international festivals in Austria, Germany, Japan, and the Czech Republic, and national festivals in Germany. In addition, Eulenspiegel has toured in Germany, Japan, Austria, twenty eight of the 50 states, and all 99 counties in Iowa.
At Owl Glass Puppetry Center in West Liberty, Eulenspiegel has taken an ever-increasing role in community development and outreach, presenting an annual season which includes performances by Eulenspiegel as well as by guest puppet theatres from all over the world. Outreach programs include the West Liberty Children’s Festival, the Summer Parade Project, and annual community performances featuring local and area adults and children as puppeteers, musicians, designers, and dancers. In 2000, Leo and Breitbach were awarded the Iowa Arts Award for long term commitment to excellence in the arts.
In addition to creating all of the puppets and scenery for Eulenspiegel productions, Monica Leo also makes dolls, creates block prints, and writes about puppetry in the Midwest for The Puppetry Journal, a national magazine published by Puppeteers of America. With her carpenter husband, John Jenks, She lives in a log cabin in the woods between Hills and Lone Tree, Iowa. She has one son, John Jenks, Jr, of Iowa City.
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