April and May every year are filled with art shows, art fairs, and art walks in Portage County. It’s an ongoing celebration of the arts. Even if you’ve gone to all the rest of the events, don’t forget to put May 23 and 24 on your calendar. The RISING STAR MILL ANNUAL ART SHOW AND SALE is again scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend. If you and your family are spending the holiday weekend in central Wisconsin, the show at the Mill is one destination you don’t want to miss. Besides looking at fine art and fine craft, take a good look at the wonderful old grist mill built 147 years ago; there’s a self-guided tour to explain how the mill worked.
It’s another “full house” of artists this year and several tented booths outdoors, too. Folks familiar with the show will find their favorite “old timers” at the show – artists that are enthusiastic about the show and always are there to show what’s new in their collections.
But “new” artists have joined the show, too – artists who’ve heard what a good regional show this is, with almost a party-like atmosphere where they can relax, chat with visitors, eat BBQ and refreshments from the Mill’s Feed Sack and enjoy themselves.
Mark Brueggeman, long-time resident of Nelsonville and newly retired from the UWSP art dept. finally has the time to join the show and add his mixed-media drawings and prints to the variety of media offered by others. Mark was part of the show years ago when this show was first held. Now we enthusiastically welcome him back to the Mill.
Andrea Salchert of Stevens Point, also joins the show this year. She does encaustic painting, a process whereby bees wax is mixed with pigments and used as paint. Her work is colorful, modern, and brings a new dimension to the show.
Clark and Sara Jane Snyder live in Nekoosa and run an arts and crafts school. For all the hikers at the show, Clark presents some really magnificent, intricately carved walking sticks. Sara Jane has a substantial background in art basketry with some pieces quite large and not necessarily vessels to hold something. She blends a variety of naturals into sculptural woven works of art. More recently, she’s followed her husband’s interest in carving and will have carved wood pieces as well as hand painted silk scarves in her collection – another of her skills.
Sue Semrow of Coloma joins the show for the first time, too. She’s an expert weaver and probably knows more about antique looms (other than Marge Krogwold) than anyone around. She collects them even if they never get assembled. She’s making an inventory of scarves and shoulder wraps that any woman’s wardrobe should have. She’ll be working on one of her looms during the show.
Returning artists to the Mill show include Milanne Buchholz, making hand fabricated polymer beaded jewelry; Dianne Brown-Hahn, art baskets and art gourds with a southwest flavor & motif; Jeanne Chase who eagerly demonstrates painting with alcohol inks and silk acrylic glazes; Mary Therese Murphy who makes the most fantastic silk fusion into delightful masks, wall hangings, purses, and garments; and Marsha Haynes, who’s camera is ever busy finding new images for her lovely greeting cards.
Mary Sipioriski has been sewing since she was a child and brings her very unique zippered totes made of recycled bags as well as adorable purses – maybe even some expert quilting that she designs herself. Toni Starr designs small jewelry items and displays them among her pencil drawings and paintings. Look for Ashley Megal’s very organic and free form drawings – “under the ash tree” – which appear as framed or matted prints, or on greeting cards. Linda Kasten brings the Norwegian flavor to the show with her rosemalling and you can watch her paint right there in her booth. And we’ll all wait to see where Susan Groshek has been this past year as she paints whatever inspires her as she travels. Another Tomorrow River artist, Jim McKnight will show his watercolors, paintings of mostly local landscape subjects.
Vincent and Arlene Heig have been with this show since the beginning, some twenty-eight years ago. Vincent makes decorative and utilitarian pottery items while Arlene has framed and matted drawings and paintings. Byron Shaw carves birds, turns bowls, and fashions kitchen tools, pen sets and other small items. Bob Cline, another woodworker, does intricate carving on soft cottonwood bark, designing what could be called “gnome homes” stacked upon each other as Bob follows the nature of the piece of bark. John Shamrowicz will have more black iron work and Eric Linde will have come up with some new designs for his home grown gourds which become lamps, planters and bird houses and feeders.
Joe Clark of Port Edwards is a master of raku pottery, achieving beautiful colorations from the unique firing process. Steve Rued-Clark has a good ear for sound as his hand- tuned wind chimes pick up the breezes around the tents outside.
Another weaver, Marge Krogwold of Amherst Junction, works the antique loom that was donated to the mill a long time ago. Built in the mid 1850s, the loom still works as Marge demonstrates the art of making rag rugs. The rugs that are produced on that loom are available to visitors by way of a donation to the Mill’s upkeep fund. Meanwhile, Marge also sells the rugs that she’s produced on her own looms at home.
Brenda Gingles of Nelsonville and Kathryn Negaard bring their own, very different styles of jewelry to the show. Brenda is a fine metals jeweler. She uses mostly sterling silver, sometimes additives of gold, and gemstone beads to make her modern little pieces of art work. Kathryn Negaard, however uses her hand made papers over metal to produce very unique wrist cuffs, earrings, and pendant necklaces that appear in her booth along with her paintings, both large and small.
Always a big hit with adults and kids alike is Bud Eagon of Amherst Junction, working on his lathe, turning out little colored tops that spin and spin and spin. Once in a while he has bowls or other turned items to sell, but mostly, Bud just enjoys entertaining folks and showing how the lathe works.