Leopold Center Art Discovery Day

About Art Day

Aldo Leopold is most famous for his work A Sand County Almanac, based upon his experiences returning a degraded Sauk County farm back to health.  His "Good Oak" essay begins : “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace”. While Leopold could not have foreseen the extent to which our nation’s demographic shift might impact cultural values and individual health, he certainly understood that separation from the natural world impaired a person’s ability to think critically about his or her connection to land and reliance upon natural resources.

Art has the unique ability to combat this loss of connection and facilitate a stronger connection between people and the land by the very nature of the process. Artists intimately connect with the techniques and the materials they use throughout the creation of their work, fostering deep understanding and respect. Meanwhile the artwork itself changes its audience’s perspective by slowing people down and challenging the way one views the world by creating an emotional connection. Ultimately art can serve as the lost link between the “spiritual danger” of not owning a farm and the land ethic. 

With Leopold’s philosophy guiding the way, the Aldo Leopold Foundation set out to build its headquarters just a mile away from where the now famous Leopold Shack stands. Within the project, architects and engineers worked to create a sustainable building incorporating alternative technologies, design features that cut down on energy consumption, and use of local materials. This definition of “local” includes not only local materials but local craftspeople as well. A number of local artisans were enlisted as an integral component of the sustainable design.

Each artisan who has been involved with the Leopold Center and the Aldo Leopold Foundation has a unique connection to the Leopold legacy, land ethic, and their unique story to tell. In 2008, ALF sponsored the first Leopold Center Art Discovery Day to showcase the work of these talented artists. It was so successful that we've decided to make it an annual event, bringing in new regional artists each year whose work reflects Leopold's idea of a land ethic.

2012 Artists:

Jim Backus (photography): Jim’s interest in photography has spanned more than forty years.  About six years ago, he turned his hobby to a professional career.  His photo collections include Baja, Mexico; the Rocky Mountains; the Northwest Territory and British Columbia, Canada; and Wisconsin and the Lake Superior area.  Jim has recently published a number of coffee table books and is currently working on a book about the Wisconsin prairies.  Visit his website to learn more.

Alan Bennett (wood carving): Biologist and woodcarver Alan Bennett grew up on his grandfather’s farm along the Horicon Marsh in southeastern Wisconsin. Field biology and wildlife art make perfect companions and Alan’s experiences as a wildlife biologist fuel his imagination and ability to create realistic carvings of birds.


Homer Daehn (wood carving): A woodcarver and sculptor who started his career as a wooden boat builder and cabinet maker, Homer later developed an interest in woodcarving and began to study and carve with a passion that continues today. He recently moved from his downtown Baraboo studio to a new workshop located at Neuman and Clingman's Roads, Baraboo.

 

Janet Flynn (watercolor painting): Janet is a local watercolor painter well known for her crane images. She has exhibited her work at the International Crane Foundation, and is currently working on a series of paintings depicting typical wild habitats of Sauk County as well as a series of large format crane paintings. Visit her website to learn more.

Christl Iausly (flower craft and wheat weaving): Flowers are a part of Christl's personality. She loves to grow them, to find them along roadsides, to rescue them before mowers come out to cut them, and to work with them to create beautiful things. She also works with wheat weavings, a traditional German craft. Visit her website to learn more.

Kathleen Jahn (watercolor painting): About fifteen years ago on a holiday with some friends her life changed. She went from being a full-time mom and nurse to impassioned watercolor artist.  While they were all basking in the tropical sun she sat under a palm tree and began to sketch and hasn’t stopped since. She enjoys painting florals, scenes, scapes, animals, as well as still life. Visit her website to learn more.

Jill Metcoff (photographer): Her photographic emphasis is on place:  a geography of rock, river, field and sometimes the built environment.  Place has a history – natural and human. Place is a home, be it field, homestead, henhouse, town, nest, den or cave. Place enshrines past desires and future hopes for those who dwell there. Metcoff’s traditional and antique cameras have been focused on southwestern rural Wisconsin and rural Illinois for the last thirty years, leading to archival silver gelatin black and white prints. Visit her website to learn more.

David Ogren (furniture maker): From his hayloft workshop he can see the woods nearby which provide the raw materials for making furniture. He often works directly from the raw logs, splitting, shaving and shaping the parts with human powered tools used before the electrical age. Visit his website to learn more.

Rebecca Power (photography): Rebecca works with UW- Extension coordinating water research and outreach in the upper Midwest. She began developing her photography skills as a way to reconnect to the joy field observation that was so much a part of her early play and career, and to foster a deeper understanding of communication through images rather than words. Visit her website to learn more.

Kim Russell (graphic drawings): Kim's acrylic and ink drawings depict the natural history of birds. The drawings also reflect her interest in ancient, indigenous cultures. Her hand-painted bird ornaments are offered in national wIldlife refuge gift shops. Kim and her husband Rob live in a log home in the wooded, rolling-hilled countryside of Sauk County where they dedicate countless hours to the protection of wildlife.  Visit her website to learn more.

Dwayne Sperber (furniture): A commission furniture maker and urban and community wood advocate for years, his distinguishing furniture designs are created using urban wood exclusively - wood from trees lost to storms, natural mortality, disease, pests, etc. The mission of his advocacy work is to demonstrate the environmental benefits of managing urban trees for their entire life cycle - from seed to sawdust.  "By recycling local trees, we not only sustain the environment, but also afford our trees a second life filled with history, emotion, and celebration."  Visit his website.

Peggy Timmerman (painting and collage): Born in Madison, Peggy’s early interest in art was nurtured by her father, who was an accomplished artist. She received a BA in Art History from Carleton College, and a Masters in Art Education (MAT) from Smith College.  Today she and her husband live on 140 acres in Richland County, which provides continual sources of inspiration and wonder for her artwork.

Mary Williams and Mimi Wuest (mixed media): Mary and Mimi are two women (mothers and grandmothers), each with a life-long connection to nature.  Both are active with environmental groups and doing their share of working and worrying about the ever-increasing crises in pollution and climate and the loss of wild places. Their business is named Earthings. Nature is the original artist; they, the visual artisans.  They create two-dimensional mixed-media pieces and necklaces in a way that enhances natural beauty and engages the eye of the beholder.

 

Past Art Day Celebrations

Art Day began in 2008. Each fall it draws a growing crowd of community members to the Leopold Center for a day of viewing and discussing art and inspiration with a wide range of talented artists and artisans from across the Midwest. We are honored to have hosted the following artists for past celebrations at the center.

2011 Artists:

Alan Anderson (furniture maker)

Jim Backus (photographer)

Alan Bennett (wood carver)

Homer Daehn (wood carver)

Thomas Ferrella (multimedia)

Taylor Franklin (painting and beaded jewelry)

Janet Flynn (watercolor painter)

Kristin Gjerdset (painting and drawing)

Bettina Madini (painting)

Ann McDermott (fable writer)

Todd Persche (watercolor painter)

Elizabeth Pilon (painting)

Nancy Rafal (chair caning and rushing)

Sharon Reilly (painter)

Kim Russell (mixed-media bird artist)

Linda and Robert Scarth (photography)

Thomas "Bud" Scupniewitz (pottery and sculpture)

Dwayne Sperber (furniture maker)

2010 Artists:

Alan Anderson (furniture maker)

Alan Bennett (wood carver)

Homer Daehn (wood carver)

Janet Flynn (watercolor painter)

Kristin Gjerdset (painting and drawing)

Chris Keenan (jewelry maker)

Sheree Kehoe (painter)

Renee Knight (glass artist)

Ann McDermott (fable writer)

Jill Metcoff (photographer)

Johnny Micheel (painter)

David Ogren (furniture maker)

Todd Persche (watercolor painter)

Rebecca Power (photographer)

Sharon Reilly (painter)

Kim Russell (mixed-media bird artist)

Nancy Schmid (quilter)

Dwayne Sperber (furniture maker)

Mary Williams and Mimi Wuest (mixed media)

2009 Artists:

Alan Anderson (furniture maker)

Homer Daehn (wood carver)

Janet Flynn (watercolor painter)

Kristin Gjerdset (painting and drawing)

Karen Ann Hoffman (Iroquois beadwork)

Renee Knight (glass artist)

Kevin Moll (metal sculpture)

David Ogren (furniture maker)

Todd Persche (watercolor painter)

Katie Schofield (recycled materials art)

Dwayne Sperber (furniture maker)

Slideshow of Art Day 2009 photos:

2008 Artists:

Alan Anderson (furniture maker)

Homer Daehn (wood carver)

Julia Gilmore (land artist)

Steve Hackbarth (blacksmith)

Renee Knight (glass artist)

Jill Metcoff (photographer)

David Ogren (furniture maker)

Todd Persche (water color artist)

Nolen Wallenfang (wood worker)