Ella Amelia Gardner Paintings
Featuring artworks from her Amish and Rural Life Series
Weekdays during business hours
1922 University Avenue
Join us for an exhibition reception
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Her paintings explore rural culture, family life, nature, and the timeless Amish world. Her artworks were widely exhibited in Wisconsin during her lifetime, and she was a long-time member of the Wisconsin Regional Arts Association.
Ella Gardner was the daughter of farmers Gina and Robert Haines, and a grand-niece of Wisconsin’s 24th Governor, John J. Blaine. She taught in a rural school for two years before beginning her formal art education at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1936. In 1937 she married fellow teacher Russell Gardner. She put her artistic aspiration on hold and the couple raised three sons, Russell Jr., Wayne, and Keith. They operated a dairy farm in Granton, Wisconsin, for forty years before moving to a smaller retirement farm in Marshfield, Wisconsin.
Ella’s art career began again 1964 after her youngest son graduated from high school and left home to attend college. She began to paint in earnest and quickly began o be recognized for her efforts. She found an art community in the Wisconsin Regional Artist Association and WRAP. For forty years she was an active participant in the Wisconsin Region Arts Program, regularly exhibited her work at the Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield, where she received received many awards. Her art was also exhibited in solo shows in Granton, Neillsville, Marshfield, Menomonie, Wisconsin Rapids, Fort Atkinson and Madison, including an exhibit in the Governor’s Office in Madison in 1983.
Gardner was a versatile artist who worked in many mediums, including oil, pastel, acrylic, mixed media, collage, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, and ink; saying that “the subject matter often dictates the medium.” Much of her work explores aspects of rural Wisconsin life.
Ella Gardner was celebrated as an artist in her lifetime. She identified as an artist and shared her vision with the world though her art and in a catalog she published “A Celebration of Life,” in 1998 featuring a selection of her paintings and drawings accompanied by personal narrative. Copies of the catalog are available for order through the website.
Ella's granddaughter, Linda, has also developed a wonderful website that celebrates her legacy. And they have established an award that is given to a deserving artist in her name. The Ella Gardner Award was established in 2008 by the Gardner family to be awarded annually at the Wisconsin Regional Arts Program (WRAP) State Exhibition. The award is selected by her family annually to recognize exceptional artwork with a rural theme in a piece they believe Ella Gardner herself would have appreciated for its excellence.
Stop by and see the exhibition and plan to join her family at the reception Saturday, February 27th, 2016, noon to 2:00. We will celebrate the timeless energy of creative expression to help build a full life.
Ella Gardner's Amish Series
In the early eighties, black-hooded buggies began appearing on the roads and highways around Granton (in central Wisconsin) as Old Order Amish families quietly moved into our community. In 1983 we sold our farm to an Amish man and his wife and we had a chance to become acquainted with these God-fearing people who refuse to change with the times. We had bought the place forty years earlier, back in the days of the great depression. From that time until the present the farming methods on the farm have made a complete circle…we started farming with horse power and we had no electricity. When we sold it we had electricity and indoor plumbing plus tractors and modern machinery.
Today the farm is again farmed with horses and the electricity and plumbing have been taken out. They are old fashion, but they survive. They go along at the same pace oblivious to up and down economics. To them the land holds a promise and they are at home in an environment that is constant and rhythmically continuous.
In the Amish society, religious, family, education, vocations and social activities are cherished and loved. The children grow into adulthood with a deep sense of belonging. This helps them survive as a people in the modern world. They are a fulfilled and contented people and there is a certain gallantry in their refusal to be drawn into the whirl of modern ways; there is beauty in their simplicity as they maintain the tone of a quieter past.
The Ella Gardner website, created and maintained by her family, holds a retrospective of images of her art and can be seen at: http://www.ellagardnerart.com/