THE PAINTED FOREST

THE PAINTED FOREST
The fascinating world of “outsider” art and its creators—those visionary self-taught artists, many of whose distinctive works remain in Wisconsin—will be celebrated during an early October weekend, featuring two events, free and open to the public. The events are co-sponsored by Edgewood College and the Kohler Foundation, Inc., in celebration of the gifting of the unique Wisconsin site, the “Painted Forest,” by the Kohler Foundation to Edgewood College.

On October 1, the first event will be at 4 p.m., at Edgewood College, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, on Madison’s near west side. All are welcome to attend the illustrated lecture “Exploring the Diverse World of Outsider Art,” by Brooke Davis Anderson, Curator and Director of the Contemporary Center of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. A reception in the DeRicci Gallery will follow.

Anderson’s slide-lecture will feature numerous “outsider” artists, including those whose works can be found in Wisconsin—such as Fred Smith’s “Wisconsin Concrete Park” in Phillips, or Nick Engelbert’s “Grandview” near Hollandale, or Ernest Hupeden’s “Painted Forest” in Valton. The latter—Hupeden’s remarkable murals that cover the walls and ceiling of the “Painted Forest”—is the focus of the October weekend events which celebrate the gifting of the site to Edgewood College by the Kohler Foundation, Inc.

On October 2, the celebration will be at 2:00 p.m. at the site in Valton, Sauk County, Wisconsin. All are welcome to attend the dedication and gifting ceremony, followed by an Amish pie and ice-cream social on the grounds, painting workshops for children (and for “children of all ages”), and tours of this remarkable building with its intriguing murals—now a museum.

The “Painted Forest” is a frame building constructed in the 1890s as a lodge or “camp” for the local group of the Modern Woodmen of America (MWA) a fraternal insurance society. Between 1897-1899, Ernest Hupeden, an itinerant self-taught German immigrant painter, covered all the walls and the ceiling of the building with murals—many of which imaginatively re-created the initiation rituals of the MWA society. In later years, the building was used for public gatherings by the local community, but gradually fell into disuse.

In 1980-81, the Kohler Foundation, Inc. which had purchased the site, undertook extensive preservation work, restoring the buildings and its remarkable murals. The Foundation then entrusted the site to the Historical Society of the Upper Baraboo Valley, which cared for it for many years. In early October of 2004, the Kohler Foundation is entrusting the site to Edgewood College, to continue the site’s role in educating students and visitors, and to preserve this unique “outsider art” Wisconsin treasure.

All are welcome to attend these events—just fill out the RSVP form on the Web page: www.edgewood.edu/events/paintedforest.

For more information, consult the following web sites:
www.edgewood.edu/events/paintedforest
www.kohlerfoundation.org/painted.html
www.portalwisconsin.org/paintedforest.cfm