You can tour the Beer Can House!

HOUSTON It began as a way for one man to avoid painting his house. Over the years, the beer can house became a tribute to all things quirky in Houston. After a long restoration period, this house is now open to the public as one man's hobby becomes a uniquely Houston institution.

To see the beer can house in person is to glimpse a little into the personality of the man behind these panels of aluminum. John Milkovisch was an upholsterer by trade, but a folk artist by accident.

His son Ronnie Milkovisch said, "It just sounded like something my father would do. My father lived all of his life very conservatively, never threw anything away."

Until the 1960's, the home was just a typical bungalow nestled in a Houston neighborhood -- until they started packaging beer in aluminum cans. Milkovisch began making wind chimes out of the cans for fun. Then his wife wanted John to repaint the house.

"So he started putting aluminum over the wood, mainly because he didn't want to paint the house," recalled Jim Kachtick, the artist's nephew. "He got carried away, and before you know it we have the beer can house."

Milkovisch passed away in 1988. The house wasn't in the best of shape. But now, after a loving restoration organized by the Orange Show, it is once again a shiny example of a Houstonian's ingenuity.. Even Mayor Bill White showed up to celebrate the occasion.

He said, "I thank you, as citizens, for recognizing something special."

Marily Oshman with the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art said, "These kinds of monuments crop up all over the world. People have a need to express themselves, just like an artist paints a canvas."

Family members say Milkovisch would have laughed at all the adoration. To him, this was never a work of art, just a way to recycle what he enjoyed.

Kachtick said, "He didn't think it was art, and he said, 'I wouldn't want to walk around the block to see this stuff.'"

The Beer Can House is a permanent site of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. It opens to the public this weekend.

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