Plan to join WRAP for a reception for the exhibition on Saturday February 28th from 12:00-3:00PM.
At 2:00PM a short video from the 1950's of the Rural Art Program founders discussing the inspiration for the program and its relationship to the Wisconsin Idea will be shown.
All of the paintings included in this exhibit were created in 1950 or earlier and were originally shown in the annual state art exhibition which has featured Wisconsin’s lay artists since 1940.
Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP)
Since 1940 the Rural Arts Program (which would become the Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP) has provided statewide art workshops and exhibits for Wisconsin’s lay artists. WRAP was established to encourage Wisconsin citizens with a serious interest in Art, people who make art purely for the love of it, rather than for fame and fortune. The purpose of WRAP is to encourage artists to develop their abilities. Focusing on Wisconsin artists, 14 or older, who make art for the sake of the creative experience and to not earn their living as artists, the program encourages creative growth among non-professional artists.
Walter Thorp, RT 3, Baraboo, 1879-1969
Frank Lloyd Wright likened this work to a Japanese print. Thorp was drawn to nature and to art from his earliest, years despite no memories of others in his family pursuing visual art. He farmed in Iowa and Wisconsin for eleven years and entered his firs Rural Art Exhibit while he was a tenant farmer in Baraboo. He sold these two works to the Permanent Collection but found it hard to make time for art while scrapping out a living. Mostly he gave his drawings away. He considered Nature to be his principle guide and teacher.
In 1940s what was then called the Rural Art Program, was conceived as part of a larger effort to manifest the philosophy and policies of the Wisconsin Idea through the arts. The Rural Art Program, along with such programs as the Wisconsin Ideas Theatre were formed out of a commitment of the University towards educating not only its students, but encouraging and teaching residents across the state in their creative growth and understanding of the vital role the arts can play in day-to-day lives of people from all backgrounds.
The first Rural Art Exhibit was held at the Memorial Union during Farm and Home Week in 1940. Under the guidance of well-known regional artist John Steuart Curry, the exhibit grew rapidly, expanding from 30 nonprofessional artists in 1940 to over 100 by 1947. Since its earliest focus on rural artists WRAP has expanded to include non-professional artists from all parts of Wisconsin, including urban areas.
For seventy five years the program flourished, initially under the leadership of as John Steuart Curry, Aaron Bohrod, and James Schwalbach, and then guided by the energy and enthusiasm of artists and educators Ken Kuemmerlein, and Leslee Nelson, with strong participation by Wisconsin’s non-professional artists, not only from rural areas but also from cities and suburbs. WRAP continues its seventy-five year tradition to make the exhibition and workshops cornerstones of activity for nonprofessional artists throughout the state.
Joan Arend (Kirkbush), Rt. 1, Almond, WI, 1926-2006
Born in Milwaukee but raised on a farm. Joan Arend received early attention in RAP/WRAP winning recognition with this painting in 1945. Joan She trained as a book illustrator at Layton School of Art in Milwaukee. In 1953 she moved to Alaska with her husband and embarked on what became a career painting Alaskan native children. She wrote and illustrated several coloring books that were popular with Alaska Natives because the images were so lifelike.
Clarence Boyce Monegar was a Ho-Chunk who also created under the name Red Arrow. Born in the town of Eland, in Shawano, County. He received some art instruction at the Tomah Indian School as a boy. At 17 he traveled with the circus as a rider in a covered wagon act. He made a living as a sign painter and thrived until his young wife died of tuberculosis, and his despair made it hard to provide for his four young children. Jailed for non-support he drew and painted from memory in his cell. The Clark County district attorney paroled him and personally drove him with his paintings to John Steuart Curry’s studio. After a short period of study with Curry to learn lithography, Monegar began making and selling art. Drafted he was an ambulance driver. After he returned to art making and used his GI Benefits to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, and continued to create paintings and prints for the rest of his life.
Plan to see these and other paintings from the historical collection of the Wisconsin Regional Art Program between now and March 13th. Join us for the February 28th, 2015 reception, and check out the 24 WRAP Exhibits and Workshops offered with cosponsoring arts organizations across Wisconsin. Better yet, enter your artwork in one of the exhibits. Find out more here.