Found: Rural Rembrandts, Wautoma, WI

Found: Wauwtoma's Annual Art Show Sponsored by the "Rural Rembrandts", Wautoma, Wisconsin, circa 1962
Founded in 1946, the Rural Rembrandts exist to this day with a mission to "share art experience with each other and with their community." We invite all the Rural Rembrandts and otherwise to send postcard interpretations of Wisconsin to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center for the Wisconsin Confidential show running November 11-February 3, 2013. We want to see the broadest possible range of portrayals! Click here for details! Deadline October 20, 2012.


Frank Lloyd Wright Trip, Spring Green, WI

Taliesin Tour, Spring Green, Wisconsin, May 12, 2012

Taliesin Texting Girl, Spring Green, Wisconsin, May 12, 2012
 Wisconsin native artist/architect Frank Lloyd Wright kept his roots deeply planted in his home state throughout his life. Wisconsin held meaning and memories. "I wished to be part of my beloved southern Wisconsin," he wrote in An Autobiography published in 1932. Mired in controversy, he built his home/studio/farm at age 44, Taliesin in Spring Green, as a refuge after practicing architecture in Chicago and traveling for a couple decades. He waxes poetic describing his connection to place:
 "As a boy I had learned to know the ground-plan of the region in every line and feature. For me now its elevation is the modeling of the hills, the weaving and the fabric that clings to them, the look of it all in tender green or covered with snow or in full glow of summer that bursts into the glorious blaze of autumn. I still feel myself as much a part of it as the trees and birds and bees are, and the red barns. Or as the animals are, for that matter." (167)
Far from tranquil, the completed Taliesin attracted melodrama from murder to fire (see Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders by William Drennan, 2007). "Three times built, twice destroyed, yet a place of great repose" (368) wrote Wright.  Undaunted, he did not flee as so many other Wisconsin-born artists had from Liberace to to Georgia O'Keeffe. He remained passionate: "The landscsape itself changes outside the windows as the sea changes, only these valley changes are more immutable than the sea, I think." (370)

Wisconsin embraced Wright with important buildings still preserved including Taliesin in Spring Green, Racine (S.C. Johnson Wax), Wauwatosa (Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church), and residences such as the Bernard Schwartz House in Two Rivers. His legacy lingers on as never built buildings--Monona Terrace--are built and architectural homages appear.

Still the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright may not hold the allure for today's young artist's living in a world of texts and posts though sitting on the ridge of eternity.


Schwartz Manufacturing Co., Two Rivers, WI

Schwartz Manufacturing Company, Two Rivers, Wisconsin, October 2010
Found: Twilight View of famous Research and Development Tower
at the home of Johnson's Wax in Racine, Wisconsin by E. C. Kropp Co.,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin postmarked November 2, 1953
Found: The Offices of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., Racine, Wisconsin
copyrighted by E. A. Bishop, Racine, Wisconsin, circa 1933


Storefronts, York Street, Manitowoc, WI

Storefronts, York Street, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, May 1, 2009
Found: Street Scene, Bloomer, Wis, postmarked June 20, 1911
Found: South Water Street, Sparta, Wisconsin by R. J. Taylor Publishing, circa 1910
Found: Main Street, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, published by S. H. Knox & Co.,  postmarked June 29, 1911


Found: Business Districts, Downtowns, Main Streets, WI

Found: Bruce, Wisconsin, Main Street by Don Bingham Post Cards, circa 1970
Found: Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, Main Street by Cliff Montgomery, circa 1960
Found: Frederic, Wisconsin by G.R. Brown Co., circa 1968
Found: Green Bay, Wisconsin, Main Street looking copyright L.L. Cook Company, 1951
Found: Ladysmith, Wisconsin, County Seat of Rusk County by G R. Brown Co., cira 1975
Found: Marshfield, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1970
Found: Menasha, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1980
Found: Montello, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., cira 1980
Found: Phillips, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1975
Found: Platteville, Wisconsin by G.R. Brown Co., circa 1968
Found: Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1970
Found: Rice Lake, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1972
Found: Ripon, Wisconsin photo by Guy A. Wyman, Wyman Post Card Co., circa 1973
Found: Sauk City, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1968
Found: Spooner, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1970
Found: Tomah, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1975
These downtown views don't attempt to make the scenes more dynamic with special optics or camera angles. The photographer stands on the center line of the main street and shoots. They just are.

Found: Business Districts, Downtowns, Main Streets, WI

Found: Street Scene of Three Lakes, Wisconsin by Antigo Card Service, Antigo and Curteichcolor® 3-D Natural Color Reproduction, circa 1960
Found: Abbotsford, Wisconsin by Don Bingham, circa 1968

Found: Hartford, Wisconsin, Downtown by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1976
Found: Mauston, Wisconsin, Business District by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1985
Found: Portage, Wisconsin, Business District, Cook Street, by G. R. Brown Co.,  circa 1985
Found: Rice Lake, Wisconsin by G. R. Brown Co., circa 1967


Found: Man Eating Hodag, Rhinelander, WI

Found: Man Eating Hodag-Captured in the Northwoods by Herman the Printer, Minocqua circa 1980s.
The Hodag is part of Rhinelander, Wisconsin myth and now central to an annual country music festival.


Post-Wisconsin Death Trip

Funeral Wreath for Boy and Baby, Black River Falls, Wisconsin,
by Charles J. Van Schaick, Wisconsin Historical Society Visual Archive circa 1890
The portrayal of Wisconsin in Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy, now a professor of Literary Journalism at Hampshire College, shows us "subjectivities" in storytelling. In his book published in 1973, Lesy identified history(s) or specifically a 19th-century Wisconsin story never told until he used photographs as "quotations" intermingled with journalistic text to "transform them like light focused by a lens on paper, from a lower form of energy to a higher." Remixing photographs from the Wisconsin Historical Society visual archive by Black River Falls photographer Charles Van Schaick (circa 1890s) and snippets from newspaper articles (1885-1900) by Frank Cooper from the Badger State Banner, Lesy transports the contemporary reader to specific time and place where the vibe can felt even smelled. Lesy, Warren Sussman writes in the book's introduction, used philosopher Walter Benjamin's proposition of producing a work consisting entirely of quotations as a method of inquiry. Wrote Lesy of his project, "It is as much an exercise of history as it is an experiment of alchemy." The news items Lesy curated with their flat and factual descriptions of madness, hopelessness, despair, exhaustion, and obsession trans-substantiate to reveal something unspoken. Lesy quotes Cooper: "Poverty and no work caused August Schultz of Appleton to shoot himself in the head while sitting in his little home with his wife and 5 children (9/24/1891)"...amidst post-mortem portraits of infants, portraits of middle-aged women and men, families, natives, and horses of the kind small town people would commission of the town photographer. We are left with a portal to gain understanding of the dark tales we are told about our own families around the kitchen table.


Hoffmann Monuments Inc., Two Rivers, WI

Hoffman Monuments Inc., Memorial Drive, Two Rivers, Wisconsin, October 4, 2010
Hoffman Monuments faces Lake Michigan so we passed it on our daily summer bike ride on the
Mariners Bike Trail. It felt odd to see the gravestone of someone we knew displayed out front waiting for pick up. Their name carved in black granite.