The 43rd annual Festival of the Arts at the UWSP Noel Fine Arts Center opens the spring “season of art” in central Wisconsin with high-quality art forms in a myriad of mediums.
Presented by 45 Midwest professional artists from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, the Festival is an opportunity to talk with the artists, learn about their work, and purchase that unique, one-of-a-kind treasure. In addition, three exceptional art students from UWSP will also show and sell their work.
The atrium and second-floor mezzanine of the Noel Fine Arts Center will be filled to bursting with glass, jewelry, fiber, photography, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, wood and more. And children are more than welcome. UWSP art professor Dianne Bywaters will have art activities for children in one of the art studio rooms.The Festival is sponsored by the Stevens Point Festival of the Arts Council and the UWSP College of Fine Arts and Communication. The show is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on April 19, and admission is free.
The Festival of the Arts is one of the longest-running, high-quality art shows in central Wisconsin. The UWSP University Women started planning it in 1971, and the first show was held in 1973 as an evening program for the University Women and their guests in the University Center featuring weavers, spinners, potters, painters and crafts people from the Stevens Point area.
As of the 1980s, the show had evolved and grown into a juried show with purchase awards. Teaching art appreciation to the public was important, and the shows featured art studio demonstrations in various media. Activities for children to engage in art projects or buy small pieces of art work were part of the program.Remembering Dick Schneider
Dick Schneider, well known in central Wisconsin for his ceramic artistry, became a significant contributor to the event by supporting the planners and participating as a potter for many years. His creative talent is legendary at UWSP; among many other achievements, he designed and supervised the execution of the “E Pluribus Unum” mosaic mural on the exterior wall of the Natural Resources building on the UWSP campus. His devotion to his craft and mentoring younger artists resulted in nationally recognized pottery artists, Rick Foris and Tim Marcotte, both of the Stevens Point area. Marcotte continues to show and sell his pottery at the Festival.
Schneider retired from UWSP in 1988 but continued working as a studio potter, showing and selling locally as well as at his summer retreat, the Schneider’s Pottery Shop near Minocqua. It was a great loss to the community when he passed away on April 25, 2014.
Schneider’s daughter, accomplished potter Lora Hagen, will be selling her own work at this year’s show in addition to exhibiting some of her father’s work as a tribute to his contributions to the Festival’s history. To honor Schneider’s legacy with the Festival of the Arts, the annual Best of Show award has been permanently re-designated The Dick Schneider Best of Show Award.
In the 1980s the Festival started a scholarship program to encourage young artists at UWSP. The College of Fine Arts and Communication is the only one in Wisconsin accredited by all four professional associations: the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, National Association of Schools of Dance, National Association of Schools of Music, and National Association of Schools of Theatre. UWSP is one of only 30 universities in the nation with those credentials.Many of the Art and Design students go on to successful careers in the arts with design firms, galleries, museums, leading companies, education, and as independent artists. Many Music graduates hold positions in military ensembles, full-time professional symphony orchestras, studio musicians, university teachers and private teachers. The high-quality academic and production programs in the Department of Theater and Dance have established UWSP as the primary undergraduate center in Wisconsin for students interested in the performing arts.
n support of these outstanding undergraduate programs, the Festival awards scholarships for each department and raises the money by soliciting donations from the corporate and private sectors and by holding a silent auction of a selection of fine art donated by the participating artists. Faculty within each department selects the scholarship award winner based on the students’ overall performance.
Our Local Winner
Jessie Fritsch of Stevens Point, an accomplished encaustic painter in the show this year, was a scholarship winner in 2004 and is now a member of the Council that plans the show.
“I was always taking art lessons growing up,” Fritsch said. “My professor at UW-Fox Valley let me try encaustic in her studio as it was not taught at that university. I transferred to UWSP, wrote an approved research grant and bought encaustic painting supplies under the mentorship of professor Rob Stolzer. The Festival of Arts scholarship allowed me to buy more supplies to continue learning.”
Fritsch met Brenda Gingles, a fine jewelry artist from Stevens Point who has been in the Festival for a long time, and as a result, decided she’d be a professional artist. Fritsch graduated from UWSP in 2006 with a BFA with honors and started participating in art fairs that same week. In 2007, Jessie received the Festival’s Best of Show award.Jewelry by Keith Westphal
Appleton jewelry artist Keith Westphal joined the show this year. Keith creates custom handmade silver jewelry using clean, simple silverwork to enhance the natural beauty of the individual gemstones. After learning the art of lapidary in the late 1970s, he enrolled in an art metals class to learn how to design jewelry to showcase his own custom-cut gemstones. He subsequently taught lapidary and art metals at the technical college for an adult evening program. After recently retiring from his daytime career, he returned to fabricating his jewelry designs. He and his wife, Colleen, who has degree in graphic arts and marketing, display Keith’s work together at art fairs around the state. In 2014, he was presented with the Award of Excellence for Jewelry at Artstreet. Keith has acquired numerous unique, natural gemstones from all over the world such as fossilized dinosaur bone, meteorites from Africa, Russia and Sweden, fossilized sea creatures from Australia, Indonesia and Madagascar, and colorful gemstones from Canada, Mexico and South America. They’ll be featured in his designs at the show. Come and meet Keith to learn about his materials and designs.
A Day in Stevens Point
While contemplating that next piece of art for a collection, the visitor has even more to see at the Noel Fine Arts Center. The Carlsten Gallery on the upper floor of the mezzanine, open during the Festival, will be featuring an exhibit by Jillian Noble titled “Ampersand”. Inside the Carlsten Gallery is a smaller exhibit space for area art students. And displayed in cases that span the exterior walls of the gallery, the Vallier Collection of Early American Pressed Glass consists of more than 1,000 individual glass goblets, a special treat for any glass historian or collector.
Plan a day of art appreciation and enjoyment. Visit Stevens Point and come to the Festival of the Arts!