Mouth Watering

October 29, 2010

by Jessica Becker, Director of Public Programs, Wisconsin Humanities Council

bars and cookies

Photos by Carrie Kilman and Jessica Becker

My mother makes chewy ginger cookies that are so good, when I can’t make it home for Christmas, she packs some up in plastic wrap and puts them in the mail to me. My dad makes a sweet and tart winesap apple pie that his father said was the best pie he’d ever had. That means a lot considering my grandmother baked a pie nearly every day. We call it Grandpa’s Pie. My husband, from New Jersey, rolls a special porchetta that reminds him of growing up—even though he is not Italian. My baby daughter doesn’t have any teeth yet, but I’m thinking of making her a figgy pudding. It would be more for me than her, of course; the beginning of a new tradition.

We are on the brink of Holiday Season: So many foods, so many traditions, so many memories, and so many delicious favorites.

This time of year, the connections between food, family, and community seem easy to make. In a waiting room lobby yesterday, I was stuck long enough to read Midwest Living Magazine cover to cover. By the time I was finally called back for my appointment, I was starving and making a mental list of all the special things I want to eat over the next two months.

Notably, the recipes in the magazine were all attributed to a real person and came with a story. I was drawn into the personal snippets: little memories of eating the food, learning to make it, or where it was first happily discovered. In my work at the Wisconsin Humanities Council, I’ve been hearing a lot of food stories lately.

Ribbon Cutting

At the grand opening, the Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton and Reedsburg Mayor Dave Estes stood alongside the local organizers, including Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce Kristine Koenecke, with an extra large pair of scissors to officially cut the ribbon and welcome everyone to the exhibition.

Last week in Reedsburg, just a little over an hour northwest of Madison, the Wisconsin tour of Key Ingredients: America by Food opened at the Woolen Mill Gallery. It is an exhibition that sparks conversation about what food means to us as individuals and as a society. The Wormfarm Institute has worked with the Wisconsin Humanities Council for over a year, along with partners in the community like the Chamber of Commerce, to uncover and collect Reedsburg’s food stories.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council is touring Key Ingredients: America by Food to six communities through August 2011. The exhibition was designed by Museum on Main Street, a special division of the Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Services.

Standing next to a table covered with a red and white checkerboard cloth and overflowing with platters of homemade brownies, bars, and cookies, I said to Kristine Koeneke, one of the organizers from the Reedsburg Chamber, “this is like Christmas!” She agreed with a child-like twinkle in her eye. “That’s what this is all about,”Kristine said about Key Ingredients. She had called on all the best bakers in town to make their most-loved recipes for the opening reception. Kristine pointed to the various goodies and told me who made what.

I came home from Reedsburg with a full set of Hot Dish Trading Cards. The Ladies of Team HCE (Home and Community Educators) are giving out their secrets and sharing the key ingredients in their soon-to-be-famous dishes. I asked Mrs. Wessie Deitz about her cocktail meatballs, which she estimates to have served about 35,000 times. She humbly admitted that the ingredient list looked unusual, but I have no doubt that there are people all over Sauk County who could wax nostalgic about Mrs. Deitz’s meatballs.

Visitors may run into any one of the Hot Dish ladies at the Woolen Mill Gallery while Key Ingredients is up (through December 3). Every day that the exhibition is open (Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 11AM-6PM, Sunday 11AM-3PM), there will be cookies baking in the gallery kitchen!

The Wisconsin Humanities Council’s tour of Key Ingredients continues further north in Rhinelander, where it will be on display through the holiday season (December 10 – January 21).

Tour Schedule:

Oscar Meyer Story

One of the local exhibits at the Woolen Mill Gallery.

October 21- December 3, 2010 in Reedsburg. The Wormfarm Institute will display the exhibition at the Woolen Mill Gallery downtown. Visit the Wormfarm’s Fermentation Fest Calender to learn about the six weeks of events in Reedsburg, or contact the Chamber of Commerce at 800.844.3507 for local information.

December 10, 2010 – January 21, 2011 in Rhinelander. The Rhinelander District Library will display the exhibition at the Riverwalk Centre. Contact Ed Hughes at 715.365.1082 for local information.

January 28-March 11, 2011 in River Falls. The River Falls Public Library will display the exhibition in the library gallery. Contact Nancy Miller at 715.425.0905 for local information.

March 18 – April 29, 2011 in Westfield. The Marquette County Historical Society will display the exhibition in the Kerst Exhibit Building. Contact Kathy McGwin at 608.369.1061 for local information.

May 6 – June 17, 2011 in Brodhead. The Brodhead Chamber of Commerce will display the exhibition at the Brodhead Library. Contact Lea Brookman at 608.897.9027 for local information.

June 24 – August 5, 2011 in Osseo. The Heartbeat Center for Writing, Literacy and the Arts, Inc. will display the exhibition at the Osseo-Fairchild High School. Contact Scott Schultz at 715.984.2445 for local information.


Hamlin Garland Homestead: By Brian D’Ambrosio

October 25, 2010

 

By Brian D’Ambrosio

Some pithy poet once said, “A man lives, he dies; he is only killed by forgetfulness.” Generals, statesmen, celebrities, sports figures, movie stars, and writers are by and large the types of characters who, for better or worse, usually keep and store well in the collective recall of public awareness. But while history records them as notable, often the communities in which they labored or lived irrespectively overlook their native yields. Many fail dismally even to remember or to recognize the value of their distinct achievements.

Since its beginning in 1851, West Salem, Wisconsin, has seen many noteworthy events take place and many an individual has left their mark upon the village. One of the most consequential is Hamlin Garland. To think of and to understand Garland, a prolific author and poet, it is necessary to begin by keeping in mind the forces which brought his parents to West Salem; to see his father, Richard Garland, as he pushed onward toward the goal of level, rich farmland on the expanding frontier.

It’s illuminative for us to revisit a few words of description of Wisconsin and West Salem as written by Hamlin Garland:

“My Wisconsin birthplace has always been a source of deep satisfaction to me. That a lovely valley should form the first picture in my childhood memories is a priceless endowment. It doesn’t matter so much what Green’s Coulee looks like now or what it looked like to grown-ups in 1865. It will always remain and charming and mysterious place to me

“It is still vivid in my mind. I have but to close my eyes to the present, and the tiger lilies bloom again in its meadows. The mowers toss up once more the scarlet sprays of strawberries. The blackbirds rise in clouds from out of the ripening corn. A hundred other sights and sounds, equally beautiful and equally significant, fill my inner vision.”

 

Born in Greenwood, Maine, on April 1, 1830, Richard Garland ran away from home to work on a railroad. Later he returned home and persuaded his parents to move westward. Arriving in Milwaukee in 1850, they started out across the promising countryside. Weeks later, they had arrived in an open meadow not far from the Mississipi River and the Minnesota border, a place called Green’s Coulee. To the east was a mill pond. A trout brook came in from the north, and a grist mill rose against a conical hill around whose base the mighty river ran in a reedy curve. On the bottom lands to the west, scattered pines were growing, and in the edges of these groves and on the banks of the stream, a group of wigwams denoted the presence of Indians. Here they laid down roots. Richard worked at various jobs, always dreaming of owning his own farm. He soon married a woman called Isabel McClintock. It was in a swatter’s cabin, half way between West Salem and the county hospital that Dr. William Hughes Stanley delivered a baby boy, christened Hamlin Garland, on September 14, 1860.

During the Civil War, Richard joined the Union army. Upon his return, the family moved westward, making their new home in Winnesheik County, Iowa, in 1868. After spending his teenage years in rural Iowa, Garland became a teacher in the Boston School of Oratory. Between the years of 1885 and 1889 he taught private classes in both English and American literature. Some time was also spent lecturing on land reform in and around Boston, where he made the acquaintance of Oliver Wendell Holmes, George Bernard Shaw, William Dean Howells, Edwin Booth and other worthies.

A trip during 1887 back to Wisconsin led him to write his Mississippi Valley stories. His impressions induced a mood of bitterness. During the weeks he worked on his father’s farm he became aware that every detail of his daily life on the farm was assuming literary significance in his mind.

“The quick callusing of my hands, the swelling of my muscles, the sweating of my scalp, all the unpleasant results of physical pain I noted down…Labor when so prolonged and severe as at this time my toil had to be is warfare…I studied the glory of the sky and the splendor of the wheat with a deepening sense of the generosity of nature and the monstrous injustice of social creeds.”

It was three years later that Main Travelled Roads was published. An instant attack was made on the book in the Midwest because it pictures the ugliness, endless drudgery and loneliness of life on a farm. Reviewers in the East, such as William Dean Howells, however, praised him.

“The stories are full of those gaunt, grim, sordid, pathetic, ferocious figures, whom our satirists find so easy to caricature as Hayseeds,” wrote Howells in Harper’s Magazine. “The type caught in Mr. Garland’s book is not pretty; it is ugly and often ridiculous; but it is heartbreaking in its rude despair.”

In 1891, his first novel, A Spoil of Office, was published. It was based on the political unrest in the agricultural regions of the country. The Populist movement was now in its heyday, and Hamlin’s father, Richard, was a delegate to the Omaha convention of the Populists. The winter of 1892 was spent in New York, but the following year Garland moved his headquarters to Chicago. One year later Hamlin bought his parents their first home, called the Hays house, in West Salem. It was situated on the road leading to the town of Mindoro, where so many of his mother’s family and friends lived. Built in 1857, the house was part of a wooded four acre lot, and immediately, Hamlin began enlarging it, raising the west end to the two story bay window first, tearing out the partition in the living room, putting in a furnace and bathroom. The only part left unchanged was the stairway. From 1893-1915, Garland summered here, and from 1916-1938, he extended his stays from spring till fall. 

 

In 1912, an overheated grease fire, which started in the kitchen when the maid was lighting the fire in the oil stove to heat water for the morning washing, destroyed much of the home.  But Hamlin quickly restored it. The Garlands had the first tennis court in West Salem and tennis parties were frequently held there. Named “Maple Shade” for the beautiful maple trees which shaded the kitchen and rear entry, it held tremendous views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Garland’s mother lived permanently in the house; Richard continued to spend summers in Dakota.

Hamlin’s first born, a daughter named Mary Isabel, was born in West Salem in 1903, while the second was born in Chicago in 1907. Their summers were spent in West Salem until 1915 when they began summering in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The folks of West Salem recall Garland as an eccentric and withdrawn man, as an article in the Saturday Sentinel alludes:

“The inhabitants of La Crosse County have been troubled by the fact that he writes books. From the society of these blissfully unliterary persons he departs each year into the book sets of Chicago and New York where he is more profoundly terrorized at the display of new books.

It was written that Garland might be met on the street but never acknowledged the passerby. One woman called Mrs. Tilson, who lived across the street from Garland for many years, when asked how she ever got the man to return her greeting, said that the exchange happened only because she had been “working on it for twenty years.”

It was in 1917 that A Son of the Middle Border was published. The next year, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Four years hence, A Daughter of the Middle Border was published. For this novel, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for best biography of 1921. The University of Wisconsin gave Garland the degree of Doctor of Letters on June 21, 1926. In the bestowing this honor, Professor Frederick Paxson said: “Hamlin Garland is the novelist of our northwest farmer country. For thirty-five years his easy pen has worked at the life of our people…His writings are words of art, but they are also documents that may become the source of history…as the preserver of the fact and flavor that gave identity to the Middle Border from which we sprang.”

Garland sold Maple Shade in 1938.

In the long run every man has to shut down – Garland died in 1940 – and if he is remembered thereafter it is by the effort of others.

In 1959, Errol Kindschy was a young man, barely into his 20s, when he first saw the village of West Salem through the eyes of a fledgling social studies teacher. He had only been in the town for two weeks before the school year began, and on the first day he posed the same opening inquiry to each of the six classes he was hired to instruct. 

“I asked if anybody famous was from this area,” recalls Kindschy. “For five classes, I was told quite affirmatively no. But on the last class of the day, one of the boys raised his hand, and he said that an author of some kind was from the town. He didn’t even know his name. This got me curious.”

Kindschy asked neighbors and coworkers about this famous mystery man, most of whom knew nearly nothing about the accomplished writer beyond the vague recognition of his name: Hamlin Garland.

There was one woman, however, one Rachel Gullickson, who was rather offended by Kindschy because he didn’t know the slightest bit about Garland. Not only was she familiar with Garland, a huge fan of his writing talents, but she lived in what was once his homestead.

“Gullickson moved in when Garland moved out,” said Kindschy. “This made me even more interested in Garland, and also quite interested in the fact that no history of West Salem had ever been written. When the Garland homestead came up for sale in 1972, I bought it, restored it, formed the West Salem Historical Society, and resold it to the society at a low rate.”

And though a bit run down and neglected at the time of the purchase, Kindschy saw a glimmer of a forgotten world. He understood that a single house may have only limited architectural significance, but the former residence of a great writer makes an indelible impression.

Thanks to Wisconsin Historical Society funds, donations and volunteer muscle, the Hamlin Garland Homestead was restored to the period of 1912 to 1915. The restoration of the Garland Homestead, which neatly reversed the structure from a jumbled three apartment subdivide, started in 1974, and concluded two years later, opening to the public on July 4, 1976.

“It’s been more than 30 years and most of Wisconsin still doesn’t know we are here,” says Kindschy.

Kindschy wants to push forward nevertheless. He intends to translate some of Garland’s better material into German and Japanese himself. Plus, he still has ample material from Garland’s extensive catalogue to get acquainted with.  

“I’ve read thirty-eight out of the fifty-two books Garland wrote,” says Kindschy. “And, honestly, some of them I wish I never picked up, and some of them are fantastic. Main Travelled Roads and Trailmakers, which is the story of the Garlands coming into this area, are my favorites.”

“Somewhere in Garland’s life,” he continues, “he discovered that all the books he was reading had happy endings. He didn’t like this. In my opinion, he became the first American realist, Jack London and others followed. In his lifetime, he was known as a controversial dean of American Literature. I’ve dug up old newspaper articles in which he was booed off the stage here in West Salem at the old settlers’ meeting, and booed off the stage at the University of Madison, for supporting American Indians and women’s independence and education, promoting the occult and séances, and proposing a single tax system.”

Kindschy and I tour Garland’s study, which includes his rocker, desk, movie projector, ink wells, pictures, and books.  It’s one of the most evocative rooms in the house, silent and peaceful, with Garland’s own card table and playing cards, and a bookcase of his original books, many autographed to members of his family or friends.

It’s Kindschy’s favorite room – and it shows in his keenness. I never saw any one so feverishly alive as this little, old man this room, his bright, withered cheeks, over which the skin was drawn tightly, his darting eyes, under their prickly bushes of eyebrow, his fantastically-creased white and gold curls of hair, his subtle mouth, and, above all, his hands, never at rest. His fingers are short, tight, bony, wrinkled, with every finger alive at the tips, like the fingers of a mesmerist. His hands are never out of his sight, they travel to his nose, crawled all over his face, and grimace in little gestures.

“Garland had an indoor bathroom and tennis court and lawn mower,” says Kindschy, pointing to the back yard. “So people thought he was putting on heirs. He wouldn’t converse with the local people at all. His short stories were thought to have portrayed some of the local Germans in a negative light. He described them as he saw them, I guess. They wanted to talk about family and farming, he wanted to talk about literature and books. Those farmers, they didn’t see his work as a writer.”

One hour or so later, we are back downstairs in the museum room, which includes Garland’s actual Pulitzer Prize, his original book illustrations, first editions, family photos, letters, autographs, cards, and poems, all of which have been collected by Kindschy over time. 

“One time I was playing Hamlin Garland,” says Kindschy, flipping through a scrapbook of Garland-related press clippings.  “And this 80-year-old woman came up to me and said ‘do you remember when I brought cookies to your house? I knocked on your door, and you asked me what I wanted, grabbed the plate, said thanks, and slammed the door. I cried all the way home. She must have thought I was Garland.”

As we exit the museum room and prepare to return to the vagaries of the banal, comparatively dull world outside, Kindschy speculates on the long-term fate of Garland’s writings, which he thinks might someday have a revival. A revival he hopes to spark with a blitzkrieg of Garland events scheduled to coincide with the one-hundred and fifty year anniversary of his birth in September.

During a brief interlude in the conversation, I tell Kindschy how much I appreciate all that he has done to preserve and enhance a deference that transcends a single, tangible structure, and that stimulates symbolic, hopeful feelings drawn from the desire to learn our cultural heritage.

Seemingly quite touched, he clicks off the lights, grins affectionately, takes a deep breath, and says, “I am proud of what I have been able to do to contribute to the recognition of Hamlin Garland.”

 To read more of Brian D’Ambrosio’s Wisconsin art, history, and travel articles.


Star power…

October 20, 2010

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to interview some fairly large personalities – people well-known for their craft.  Household names in the entertainment world.  I had that opportunity years ago as well while on commercial radio in Milwaukee and Tampa.  It’s one of the cool things about media production.  And almost to a person, except for a couple along the way, the bigger they were the more cordial they were.  I found – and still find – it both interesting and satisfying to note that people with amazing skills to entertain were also well-schooled in the art of congeniality and cooperation.  I wonder whether that’s the case with many of today’s young entertainers.  If they’re anything like many of the professional athletes we see and hear every week, I think things may have changed.

Remember when 15 minutes of fame was a joke…a cliché…and it didn’t happen to very many folks?  How crazy is it then that, today, people can submit a video – or a recording of almost anything – and it can make it ‘on the air’ and many times world-wide!  Destinations like YouTube have provided a foundation for a concern about how we entertain ourselves and what we find entertaining.   Years ago, something could be deemed entertaining simply for having the ingredient of ‘once-in-a-while’.  It was noticeable and appreciated simply because it only happened occasionally.  It seemed as if real entertainers – movie stars, singers, bands, authors, etc. – were few and far between – and that, too, is what made them….special.

Today, it’s all around…yelling at us, trying to get our attention.

Let’s see…’entertainment’, in an old dictionary of mine, is defined as: ‘Diversion or amusement afforded by something entertaining’.  That does nothing to help my cause.  All that does is whittle it down to: entertainment is in the eye/ear of the beholder – and that’s the way it’s always been. 

But, because all this stuff is aired on computer monitors, television screens and audio devices – they are perceived as real entertainment – competing with the kind many of us are accustomed to:  theater, movies, music, books  – produced by professionals. 

Maybe that’s the difference….amateurs are doing most of the entertaining today.  Pros are still doing it, too…but, in their case, it costs more for them to do it and for us to see/hear it.  I wonder if ‘you get what you pay for’ still has meaning in today’s entertainment world?

I guess I don’t what I’m driving at.  I’m rambling again…yet, blogging is about rambling.  My thoughts flow through the keyboard and appear here as they appear in my head. 

All I know about the topic-at-hand is that the world around me is chock FULL of people trying to entertain me and get my attention – some in traditional, and others in radical, ways. 

It’s a crowded playing field – and I don’t recognize a vast majority of the names or the faces.  And I wonder how cordial and humble they would be during an interview…like the big folks.

 Keep in touch,

Al Ross

 PS: Goodbye, Mrs. Cleaver….and Mr. Cunningham.


Music Camp: The stuff dreams are made of….

October 11, 2010

I’ve been going to music camp for an eternity. Actually that’s terribly false. I never went to music camp as a child. Horseback riding camp, church camp, sports camp, girl scout camp…definitely but never music camp. I was first introduced to music camp as an adult about 12 years ago. I’ve never stopped going ever since. I have gone to camp as the “oldest middle schooler”, oh yes I shared a music stand with a 7th grader who was way beyond my level and I have spent time at adult only camps where most of us were struggling to make any pleasurable sound resonate from our instruments. Truth be told I have enjoyed them all. This past summer I attended two camps….Brian Wicklund’s FiddlePal Camp in Marine on St. Croix, a week-long camp filled with students ranging in age from perhaps six to sixty…. and Meadowlark Music Camp in Washington, Maine where the nightly cocktail hour and Friday lobster feast are at least as important as the six hours of folk music instruction each day. Music camp is one of those other world experiences where all lines of hierarchy are not only blurred but completely destroyed. Where the most common utterance is “cool song, can you teach it to me?” And where often times it is a 40-year-old asking that of a 10-year-old. I have met my best friends at music camp. The people I see only once a year and yet know would come to my rescue if ever needed, no questions asked. It is the place where I learned that “professional musicians” have no secret weapons and have walked along the exact same path as every other lifetime learner.

One of the first camps I ever attended was located at Camp Edwards in East Troy, Wisconsin. My fiddle teacher, Randy Sabien, was there as an instructor and suggested I try it out. The camp has gone on for decades in various derivations – week-long summer camps or weekend retreats, hosted at Camp Edwards or at resorts. Despite the changes, the essence of it has never changed. It is a respite from the daily throes of life. A couple of days where you can leave the worries of the world behind and immerse yourself in the simple pleasures of life….singing songs, making music, enjoying a walk through the woods with a friend. Stringalong Weekend is back again this year at Camp Edwards from November 5th-7th. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Dayle Quigley


Artists of the land

October 1, 2010

The lion peers out from his cover of Tall Prairie Dropseed.  A tree of monkeys rises from Sambucus Black Lace, Geraniums, Alliums, Irises and Sedums.   A deer stands in Gro-low Fragrant Sumac, and Snow White orchestrates her dwarfs, all surrounded by a sea of Hostas .

What manner of fairytale is this?  What wizards conjured flower and concrete, earth and glass?

Throughout the historic farm yard gorgeous flower gardens frame statues made long ago by Nick Engelbert, a dairy farmer who created them from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Carol (left) and Janet with Grandview flowerboxes

Over the years, as Nick created statues, his wife Katherine would surround each piece in a colorful nest of flowers.  The site fell into ruin and was resurrected by the Kohler Foundation in the 1990s.  As Grandview was restored, so were the gardens.  They had to be – they’re integral to the beauty of the site.  Katherine’s skill is not only alive and well today, it has doubled.  The gardens are now the work of Janet  Huebner and Carol Rademaker.  And they’re more than gardeners, they’re art environment innovators.

Janet and Carol are Master Gardeners and members of Dodgeville and Mineral Point garden clubs.  Being sisters, they surmise their love for gardening started with their grandfather and came from their father as well.  “We always did it”, they both say.  Carol adds with a laugh that, “We’ve moved plants from everyplace we’ve lived – they preceded us”.  Gardening for them is not only a self-evident passion, it is relaxing and satisfying.  It’s a part of a good life.

The Master Gardener and club networks give them inspiration and support from others.  Janet says they’re always catalyzed to work at Grandview after meetings, thinking “Boy, I better get going when I get here”.   The networks also represent life-long learning, and the inspiration to think “Let’s try this”.

Lion

Gardens like these at Grandview are the result of a huge amount of work.  “We start the summer before”, says Janet.  “Conditions change from year to year.  For instance, planning includes things like looking at shady areas and picking a plant that thrives with more shade”.  Native plantings work well because they don’t require that much maintenance.

February is time to get serious about seeds and in April the outdoor work begins in earnest with clean-up, pulling annuals, clearing branches, cutting off dead perennials and many other labor intensive activities.

When considering how to embellish a specific sculpture, Carol and Janet select flowers consistent with the piece, like Alliums for the Monkey Tree because they are whimsical like the art.  The prairie drop seed makes the lion look like he is in natural habitat.  Grow low sumac for the deer looks like low forest area habitat.  The Viking sails in a sea of blue festive grass.

Historical photos and the recollections of neighbors are also important. Grandview neighbor Mona Scott remembers that Katherine had a penchant for petunias.  “When the Kohler Foundation decided to restore Grandview,” she recollects, “numerous volunteers worked tirelessly toward the goal of replicating Katherine’s gardens for the Grand Opening in 1997.  We were in awe of what she had accomplished by herself when we, as a group, had difficulty completing the job.  We certainly developed a great deal of admiration for what Katharine had completed.”

Similarly, scores of people have since developed a great deal of admiration for what Janet and Carol do.  Planning alone is a huge task, then planting and nurturing.  Weeds consume a great deal of time, with Creeping Charlie and his friend Bellflower always lurking nearby.  The women hustle donations of money and plants, knowing when the best days are to get a donation or two from a local greenhouse.   The garden clubs also contribute.

“The gardens offer something more for the people who come to Grandview,” mentions Carol.  “Some visitors like the statues and some like the flowers.  They ask us questions.”  I know this first hand because on many occasions I have been there to talk about history, art, education or community development and invariably someone moves the conversation to the flowers.   “The gardens show the community cares,” adds Janet.  “They make it something special.”  True story.


Janet tends to the Monkey Tree

There is something larger here.  It is not lost on me that Carol and Janet are artists, as was Nick Engelbert.  They not only are specialists in horticulture, they have a passion for the planning.  They chase the question “why” as well as pursuing “what, when and where”.  There’s always a plan before they get to the nuts and bolts, so to speak.

Their annual deliberations about plantings at Grandview reveal a depth of values, historic and contemporary, but always based on the stories behind the art they seek to complement.  I think Nick and Katherine Engelbert would be amazed at how gorgeous their place looks in 2010, and the storyteller in Nick would find joy in hearing Carol and Janet talk about his sculpture as they do.

I remember my peripheral involvement years ago with some of Madison’s community gardens.  The obvious benefit was producing fresh veggies, but it was suggested to me that a great deal of community development was occurring.  People of widely varying backgrounds and ethnicities were all working their individual plots in the same garden and sometimes a succession of community building would begin with people simply bumping into each other as they worked.  Then they’d talk.  Then perhaps share gardening tips and some of their produce when the time came.  Before long, folks who were strangers before the season started were inviting each other’s families to dinner and coalescing around family and community.  Kinda makes veggie growing look secondary.

Still pretty in the fall

Carol and Janet make me think of that because they understand how these gardens at a small, isolated historic site can serve to nurture community.  Their vision includes the thought that “more local people appreciate what they have and become more involved” as well as the hope that more folks would “learn to appreciate different lifestyles and values”.  The educators in them would like to maintain a sense of history and appreciation for what has gone before.  These are cornerstones of developing strong places –urban or rural.

My kids would say “They get it”.  I’m simply content with the thought that, even at 60, I can still learn something.

So no wizards have been at work here, but plenty of magic has been unleashed over the decades by a succession of artists of the earth creating sculpture and garden alike.

Grandview wouldn’t be Grandview without the gardens.  It is unique.  And maybe the greater community wouldn’t be what it is without these artists of the land.  That is common to us all.

What’s your story?

Rick Rolfsmeyer, Hollandale, WI (Pop. 283)


How This All Started

October 1, 2010

By Evelyn Patricia Terry

"Beyond the White Picket Fence: The Computer Beckons," installation by Evelyn Patricia Terry, UW-Milwaukee Union Art Gallery, 2006. Photo: Vernessa Richardson.

My practical-minded mom suggested majoring in cooking so that I might always be employable at a hospital or other institutions. Having no career notions, I attempted to follow her advice. But instead, my art career began after one of my University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Home Economics professors, Ms. Jean Stange, suggested that I might be an artist. She was aware (no doubt) of my poor performance in other department classes. In a cooking class, my soufflés fell and my white sauce had lumps. In interior design, I didn’t like matching or even looking at sofas, rugs, paint swatches, and curtains. However, I loved Ms. Stange’s Related Art class and I excelled.

Growing up, drawing was second nature to me. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to learn degrees could be earned based on one’s ability to draw. Mom once said her grade school teacher relegated children caught drawing to the corner  to wear a dunce hat. Consequently, her conditioning discouraged promotion of drawing.

"Play the Race Card: The Patriotic Bride Wore Black, Red and Green," by Evelyn Terry. Mixed media found objects, 2009. Photo: Fred Fischer, Tom Fritz Studios, Inc.

I knew I was an artist when I walked into a Mitchell Hall printmaking room and saw an art student pull a print on an etching press. For the first time, my continuous feelings of misery from being on earth dissipated; I felt overall joy and a strange new sense of my future opening up to embrace me and invite me forward. Though the road to becoming and being an artist has often been bumpy, I was determined to keep the feeling of peace and contentment that the environment of creating art provided. I strive daily for that feeling when I am not in the actual act of producing art. After switching to art classes, I began almost immediately to make a leap to becoming a professional artist by selling my artwork in festivals. Additionally, opportunities came along through galleries, art consultants and museum associations.

As a professional full-time visual artist who has worked conceptually, figuratively, and with abstraction exploring such subjects as race, religion, relationships, recycled art, and raw food health, I have created artwork in the areas of printmaking, recycled found objects, pastels, painting, public art and installations. The “Play the Race Card” series is my current body of work, which conceptually addresses continuing US race issues from my self-actualized perspective. I have received two fellowships, several grants, and a selection of exhibition awards. Through the assistance of art consultants, my work has been collected widely. I have artwork in more than 400 collections throughout the United States (also Japan and Germany) and Milwaukee-area museums. Presently, I have a book manuscript, Permission to Paint, Please! 150 years of African American Artists Connected to Wisconsin, contracted to the UW Press in Madison, Wisconsin. It is now in the editing process.

In 2009, I started the Terry McCormick Gallery in the lower level of my duplex after a series of burglaries, arson and the death of my long-time companion, self-taught artist, George Ray McCormick, Sr. He left a plethora of his creations including sketches, woodcarvings, and sculptures. My gallery exhibits the work of both contemporary fine and folk artists. It carries my last name, Terry, and that of Mr. McCormick’s.

"Last Supper Club Dinner," George Ray McCormick, Sr. Wood-burned carved wood, acrylic, and plywood, 4' x 8,' 2008. Photo: Larry Sanders.

Click below to read about and hear Adam Carr’s (88.9 Radio Milwaukee) visit to my gallery:

http://unifiedmilwaukee2.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/make-milwaukee-week-5-the-terry-mccormick-gallery.

You can learn more about me and see some of my work at www.evelynpatriciaterry.com.

You may also visit my website for gallery information or call 414.264.6766 to make a gallery appointment. I am pleased to share my ideas as a blogger and will generally concentrate on issues important to artists and artmaking.