“We participate in the arts — whether as consumers or as practitioners ourselves because of a basic human need for inspiration, delight, joy,” writes Ben Cameron, formerly of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and current president of two arts foundations based in Minnesota.
“The arts allow us to relax, to escape, to be moved and to form social bonds with others with whom this experience is shared,” Cameron said. “The arts encourage us to come together with people whose beliefs and lives may be different from our own, to listen deeply, and to celebrate the things that bind us together instead of retreating behind the things that drive us apart. Everyone should take advantage of the opportunity to experience art as often as possible. It is a chance to learn something new, discover a different perspective and absorb creative inspiration. Art communicates and speaks to us in ways that teach literacy and enhance our lives.”
On Sunday, April 3, the Noel Fine Arts Center on the campus of the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, will open it’s doors to the public for the 44th Annual Festival of the Arts. It’s the longest running regional art show in Central Wisconsin. It is a juried show and out of over seventy applicant artists, only fifty-two were selected to participate. Working artists come from all over Wisconsin – Madison, Watertown, Grafton, Baraboo, Brookfield, Racine, Lake Delton, other locales – and will be joined by artists from Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota.
New to the Festival this year is Scot Schmidt from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, who works in a limestone based medium to create bas-relief works of art. Scot was introduced to the medium when he was employed by the paper making industry.
“The medium contains not only limestone but other calcium carbonates,” Schmidt said “bonding agents and fillers, all of which hardens in seconds and is very durable. The mixture is quickly folded and mixed to the desired consistency, then poured into a mold where it sets in 20 to 30 seconds. When the tile is dry, I hand carve, sculpt, grind and scratch into the surface to create the design.”
He uses nails, grinders, dental tools, razor blades, sand paper and anything else that will scratch or gouge. Then he paints, stains and glazes the piece with high quality acrylic paints. He treats each creation with an iridescent wash that reflects light and enhances the movement and texture of the piece. When the tile is finished, he mounts and frames it.
“Every tile I make is one-of-a-kind,” Schmidt said “I do not cast by making molds.”
Scot has won numerous Best of Show and Awards of Excellence since 1999.
Nancy Krahn of Algonquin, Illinois, studied metals at the University of Wisconsin Fine Arts. She owned and operated her own jewelry gallery early in her career and for the past 34 years, has been a full-time exhibiter at national, regional and local art shows.
“My jewelry designs are executed in various metal smithing techniques of hand fabrication or construction,” Krahn said. “Materials include 14 karat rose and yellow gold, precious, semiprecious and ornamental gemstones. I find great satisfaction in combining the expressiveness of an artist with the technical skills of a craftsman. My designs are lyrical; the flowery and organic lines reflect my feminine side. There is a ‘nod’ to Art Nouveau and Art Deco in my style while the high polish and geometric forms are reflections of the age in which we live. It is the combination of these elements, built into 3-D wearable sculpture, that make my work uniquely my own.”
Looking up close through a camera lens, David Fields of Greenville, Wisconsin, finds a “deeper view of our world.”
He points out that “Nothing is permanent. As things change, they evolve. What may seem mundane can become an interesting piece of art. A rusted piece of metal becomes a landscape. Broken glass becomes reflective pools of sky. Simple objects become complex and complex objects become simple. The beauty in my photographs arises from objects that look ordinary or unpleasant at first glance. Beauty can rise from transformation and surprise us. By finding that beauty, I capture the constantly changing nature of reality.”
Scott Menzel of Marion, Wisconsin, is a digital contemporary fine artist. Confined to a wheel chair due to spinal muscular atrophy since childhood, Scott mastered software that allows him to create vivid images with a wide range of color spectrums and big, bold strokes on both canvas and metal. His limited dye infused metal art prints have a luminescence because the image is infused into the metal surface, not on it. Scott attended St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin and was an assistive technology lab supervisor for a Master’s program at St. Norbert’s before becoming a full time artist.
“I believe my passion to create is the driving force to move myself through life,” Menzel said. “It allows me to express how I feel, and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I create my work digitally which ironically reflects my life which is aided by technology.”
Elaine Eikenberry is coming from Houghton, Michigan, bringing a wide variety of stunning ceramic pieces.
“My inspiration for making pottery has always started in my kitchen,” Eikenberry said. “I make food safe, wheel thrown, altered and carved ceramic table ware. Serving dishes, pitchers, cups and baskets. They are the main body of my work with the intention that they serve the role of hosts to the conversation and community that develops at the table. Each piece of my pottery has a role in those moments of connection.”
In her studio, she makes similar forms in a series, with shapes and lines inspired by floral models, geometric and repeating patterns and curves. Occasionally it becomes an asymmetrical design.
“The glazes I have developed are quiet,” she said “and allow the lines and curves of each vessel play the starring role. Most of my glazes are blues, greens, creams and whites, sometimes accented with black.”
Olga Krasovska was born in Ukraine, and after graduation, taught art at the Pedagogical University in Krivoj Rog, Ukraine. She moved to the United States in 2004 and lives in Granite Falls, Minnesota. Her style & subject matter is a counterpoint to the other paintings presented at this year’s show.
“My whole life has been consumed with the passion of fine art,” Krasovska said. “Ever since I can remember, I have been fortunate to either study, practice, or teach the style and techniques of art.”
Olga specializes in paintings which she calls “Old Town,” which combines imagination and nostalgia with conceptions of old European architecture and cities. Her “Time of Elegance,” collection, with vivid color schemes, conveys the effervescence of a woman’s beauty and retro-style sense of fashion, opulent glamour and vintage grace. She paints on cotton fabric using her own specialized technique of blending watercolor, ink, and gouache.
FOA supports students in the Arts
In addition to showcasing fine art, the Festival Council awards scholarships to UWSP students in the Fine Arts, Graphic Arts, Music, and Dance Departments. Scholarship funds are raised via a silent auction of donated art work as well as solicitations to the public and to corporations.
Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Investors Community Bank in Stevens Point, Aspirus, and Donaldson Company, Inc. of Stevens Point. have very generously responded to the call to support the arts in Central WI and the scholarship awardees in particular.
The Festival’s mission also includes art appreciation and education for children as well as adults. Children’s art activities are offered by UWSP Art Professor/Painter, Diane Bywaters, so bring the kids! Offer them the opportunity to explore their own creative energy.
Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
The Festival is sponsored by the Stevens Point Festival of the Arts Council and the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point College of Fine Arts and Communication. The show is open from 10 AM to 4 PM on April 3, and admission is free.
Come to the Festival of Arts on April 3 at the UWSP Noel Fine Arts Center, and take advantage of the opportunity to experience art, to learn something new, to discover a different perspective and absorb creative inspiration.