Explore Art/Enjoy Music and the Outdoors at Nick Engelbert’s Grandview Plein Air Event on August 16

August 14, 2015

Wisconsin is rich with roadside art, and many a weekend can be spent tracking down hard-to-find treasures hidden in rural places that seem almost lost. In the next few weeks some of these sites will entice you with great family outdoor activities. It’s a good time to fire up the jalopy and head to the hinterlands.

On August 16th you can enjoy food and refreshments, music, tours, and art making at Nick Engelbert’s Grandview Plein Air Event from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free! Grandview is roughly equidistant between New Glarus and Mineral Point just outside Hollandale in Highway 39, only 45 minutes from Madison.

Take a liking to this Viking at Grandview, just west of Hollandale in Iowa County

Take a liking to this Viking at Grandview, just west of Hollandale in Iowa County

Art-making activities will include plein air (outdoor) painting inspired by Engelbert’s sculptures. Art instruction, materials and easels will be available for beginners and young folks. Experienced artists can choose from scores of interesting objects and perspectives to create something unique. Cash prizes will be awarded in both amateur and professional categories.

You don’t need to be an artist to enjoy the day. There will be plenty of time to tour the grounds and see sculptures ranging from historical figures to fairy tale and mythological depictions. Bring a lawn chair and your favorite beverage and enjoy live music from 1 pm – 4 pm. Snacks will be provided, too, and the kids will love the unique setting.

Nick Engelbert’s Grandview Plein Air Event is part of a series of five Wandering Wisconsin Roadside Art Experiences being held during August and September. The events include art making inspired by each site’s creators, entertainment, refreshments, and exploring some of the grandest, most astonishing, and original visions in American art. All activities are free and all ages are welcome. For more information about these events, call (920) 694-4534 or email wanderingwisconsin@jmkac.org. If you have any questions about the Grandview event email marilynr@mhtc.net or call 608-574-7169.

Soon the 2015 Wandering Wisconsin Outdoor art festivities will move to other venues. Come back soon to Portal Wisconsin to get more information.

Even if you cannot make the events, set some time aside to visit all the Wandering Wisconsin sites to experience a unique Wisconsin perspective. With each amazing site comes a great ride in the Wisconsin countryside.

Wandering Wisconsin is a consortium of eight art environments located throughout Wisconsin. The Roadside Art Experience is funded by Kohler Foundation, Inc.

Rick Rolfsmeyer, Hollandale

Take a Drive to Art Outdoors – August 2, 2015

August 1, 2015

The first of five Wandering Wisconsin 2015 arts events will feature the Painted Forest in tiny Valton, Wisconsin.  The Painted Forest is a very unique environment created in an old Modern Woodmen of America meeting hall.  Itinerant artist Ernest Hupeden painted almost the entire interior of the hall in the 1890s.  The site has been restored, a learning center constructed nearby, and is now owned by Edgewood College in Madison.  It’s truly a remarkable, hidden Wisconsin treasure.


Part of Ernest Hupeden’s amazing mural work

Art Outdoors will provide a number of great activities including an opportunity to learn to paint outdoors, with instruction provided by Edgewood College professor Robert Tarrell.

Guided tours of the Painted Forest will be given every 30 minutes starting at 11 am.  You can snack on some yummy wood fired stove-made pizza from noon until 3, and be entertained by Jake O starting at 1:30.

Check your roadmap or GPS to find Valton.  It is in the far

The Modern Woodmen Hall - it's astounding inside!

The Modern Woodmen Hall – it’s astounding inside!

northwest corner of Sauk County, near Cazenovia and about 18 miles west of Reedsburg.  The drive will be beautiful and there will be a lot of interesting things to do once you get there.  Art Outdoors will run from 9 am until 4 pm – drop in any time.

The event in Valton is the first of a series of five Wandering Wisconsin Roadside Art Experiences around the state to be held in August and September.  We’ll keep you updated via the Portal Wisconsin blog.

Rick Rolfsmeyer

Warrior in the Ring: The life of Marvin Camel, Native American world champion boxer

December 3, 2014

Warrior in the Ring: The life of Marvin Camel, Native American world champion boxer


Brian D’Ambrosio

In the Golden Age of boxing, Marvin Camel—a mixed blood from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana—defied all obstacles of race, poverty, and geographical isolation to become the first Native American to win a world boxing title.

Complex and wildly charismatic, Camel combined tremendous physical talent with staggering self-discipline—forged by the sting of his father’s belt—to claw his way to the top, twice winning world titles in the newly minted cruiserweight division and fighting on the same cards as boxing icons Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Bob Foster.

Camel’s journey was an amazing example of gritty determination: punishing runs on Montana’s back roads, relentless training in make-shift gyms, sleeping in beat-up cars before fights in glittering Las Vegas, and even training and fighting for a world championship in a foreign country, alone.

Always, Camel willingly represented his state and his people, proudly wearing his eagle-feather headdress into the ring. Yet with success came sacrifice and pain, both physical and personal, but in life as in the boxing ring, Camel emerged bloody but unbowed.

With irresistible detail gleaned from years of frank interviews with Camel, his family and friends, his former opponents, and seasoned boxing insiders, Brian D’Ambrosio’s gripping biography captures the drama, danger, beauty, and ugliness of boxing, of Indian life on reservations, and especially, of the life of a stereotype-shattering man who inspired his people and boxing fans everywhere with his courage, achievements, and great warrior heart.




“Life in the Trenches” book highlights eclectic names and talents

August 25, 2014


The nature of storytelling hints at a fundamental human restlessness and insinuates human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to share. In the 37 profiles within, there is no perfection. There are successes, failures, struggles and redemptions. There are falls from extraordinary perches and crushing victories and defeats and people driven to climb high in the first place. “Life in the Trenches” offers 37 narratives and stories of modern day trench warriors – Stephen King’s favorite folksinger (James McMurtry); a Greco-Roman wrestler and MMA forefather from the Midwest (Dan “The Beast” Severn); entertainment wrestlers so convincing as villains that they repeatedly put their own lives in danger (Ivan Koloff). Some of the subjects have been retired and inactive for decades. Some simply swapped one trench for another. Some could turn even the simplest memory into something remarkably intense. “Life in the Trenches” is crammed with stories of the forgotten (Tim Witherspoon and the lost generation of 1980s heavyweights), the unpopular (one former NHL tough guy, Jim Thomson, has unleashed the wrath of hockey fight fans for his anti-fighting position), and the ultra-popular (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper is such a scoundrel in entertainment wrestling that he lives in seclusion on a mountaintop in Oregon). There are no run-of-the-mill stories here. Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most valuable asset we have. This book is a nod to that precious quality. Subjects profiled and interviewed:
1) Baseball pitcher Jim Abbott
2) Iran Barkley
3) Mike Bass
4) Livingstone Bramble
5) Earl Campbell
6) Gerry Cooney
7) Ted DiBiase
8) Troy Dorsey
9) Daniel Gonzalez: Coal miner-boxer
10) Ivan Koloff
11) Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini
12) Angel Manfredy
13) “The Model” Rick Martel
14) Jameel McCline
15) James McMurtry
16) Anthony Muñoz
17) Lee Roy Murphy
18) Sean O’Grady
19) Diamond Dallas Page
20) Nathan Perrott
21) Richard Pilon
22) “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
23) “Leaping” Lanny Poffo
24) Folksinger Matthew Ryan
25) Mike Ryan: Montana bootmaker
26) Dan “The Beast” Severn: MMA forefather
27) Earnie Shavers
28) Billy Sims
29) James “Bonecrusher” Smith
30) George “The Animal” Steele
31) Pinklon Thomas
32) Jim Thomson
33) Paul Thorn: Boxer turned Musician
34) Jimmie Walker
35) Demond Wilson
36) Tim Witherspoon
37) Garo Yepremian

Wisconsin art environments host second annual plein-air event

July 31, 2014

Five fascinating Wandering Wisconsin art environments will host an August weekend of free fun through art making. If you’re not an artist come anyway because there will be plenty of them and they’re fun to watch, especially when they’re painting outdoors at places as unique as these.

Artists in the yard at Grandview, 2013

Artists in the yard at Grandview, 2013

The events include exploring some of the grandest, most astonishing, and original visions in American art and painting in the plein-air style on a postcard-size canvas. Professional artists, amateurs and children of all ages may also enter their paintings to win cash prizes. If you are an experienced painter you can just have at it; there will be lessons at each site for children and those new to the style.

The sites hosting a Plein-Air Postcard Event are: Ernest Hüpeden’s Painted Forest, Valton (August 2–3); The Paul and Matilda Wegner Grotto, Cataract (August 2–3); Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park, Phillips (August 9–10); James Tellen’s Woodland Sculpture Garden, Town of Wilson (August 9–10); and Nick Engelbert’s Grandview, Hollandale (August 16–17).

Art environments are a different animal, and Wisconsin has a lot of them.  One of my favorite definitions can be found online at ITENet – Finnish Contemporary Folk Art: “An art environment consists of works of art, their relations to one another, and it also includes everything else in the living environment such as its architecture, plants and the geography of the area. The light and temperature in the environment vary according to the time of day and the season. The environment gets beaten by the rain and swept by the wind, parched by the sun and covered by snow. The sensual world of contemporary folk art embraces the perfume of flowers and the smell of manure

The 2013 first place adult category winner, by Stacey Lenz, painted at the WI Concrete Park

The 2013 first place adult category winner, by Stacey Lenz, painted at the WI Concrete Park

wafting from the fields, birdsong and sounds of traffic as well as the hum of mosquitoes and horseflies buzzing on the skin.”  These are unique places for art, nature, creativity and fun.

Prizes ranging from $15 to $250 will be awarded at each event. Judges will award three prizes in each of the following categories: children through age 12, youth ages 13 through 18, adult amateur, and adult professional. Award winners from each event will be entered in a statewide competition for a $500 prize.

Plein-air events begin at 8 a.m. Saturdays and end at 4 p.m. Sundays. Judging will take place from 4–5 p.m. on Sundays. Photos of all entries will be taken and photos of award winners will be exhibited on the Kohler Foundation website.

For beginners, there will be plein-air painting instruction from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. All ages and skill levels are welcome.

2nd place_Youth_ Valerie Carr_Grandview

Valarie Carr’s winning youth division painting, Grandview 2013

Paintings entered for judging must be on postcard-sized canvases/boards (5″X 7″), which will be supplied along with all other necessary materials. Professional artists may bring their own supplies and sell other works while painting at the art environments.

There are no registration or materials fees. For more information, call Emily Bianchi at (920) 694-4534 or email ebianchi@jmkac.org. Wandering Wisconsin is a consortium of eight art environments located throughout Wisconsin. The plein-air events are funded by Kohler Foundation, Inc.

Wisconsin is beautiful in August and the five participating Wandering Wisconsin sites are all around the state.  Maybe there’s one near you.  Bring family and friends for a unique, enjoyable Wisconsin experience.

Rick Rolfsmeyer, Hollandale, WI  (Pop. 288)

Local author catches up with former NHL players in new book

June 28, 2014

Originally posted on Brian D'Ambrosio's News/Articles/Books:

Helena author Brian D’Ambrosio details stories of former hockey enforcers in his recently published book.
June 24, 2014 • By TROY SHOCKLEY Independent Record

Penguins' McKee fights with the Islanders' Witt during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Uniondale
The playoff beards have been shorn and the year’s award winners will be honored in Las Vegas tonight. With next season’s schedules already out, the NHL year is utterly and completely finished.

But if you’re looking for something to help fill that void, Helena’s Brian D’Ambrosio may be able to help just a bit. The local author has published a book titled “Warriors on the Ice: Hockey’s Toughest Talk,” in which he catches up with more than two dozen former enforcers and tough guys. A longtime fan of the game, D’Ambrosio said the collection of old-time stories was most certainly a labor of love.

“I’ve always been interested in the psychology of the tough guy, and the mental prowess that goes into that preparation,” he said…

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Hockey Enforcers Speak Out: “Warriors on the Ice” review

June 23, 2014


Hockey Enforcers Speak Out

Originally posted on Brian D'Ambrosio's News/Articles/Books:

Hockey Enforcers Speak Out
by Kevin Mitchell, Vernon Morning Star
June 22, 2014

Brian D’Ambrosio of Missoula, Mont. used to work as a boxing writer in New York.

“In general, I’m a roaming, nomadic reporter, looking for the next cool subject,” he wrote me in an e-mail.

D’Ambrosio recently published Warriors on the Ice: Hockey’s Toughest Talk, a book available through Amazon.

He interviewed 30 of the toughest guys in the history of the NHL, in a 250-plus page book.

Some of hockey’s greatest enforcers, from Tim Hunter to Tony Twist, discuss the evolution of the tough guy position.

Former Vancouver Canuck Craig Coxe, ex-Philly Flyer Glen Cochrane, who lives in Kelowna, and one-time Flame and Panther Rocky Thompson also discuss their first fight and more. Each player shares a memory of Bob Probert, considered the toughest fighter ever.

“Secondly, it’s about the overall evaporating enforcer role and the…

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