Recently I made the journey to Fred Smith’s Concrete Park near Philips, Wisconsin. This is another of the fine folk art environments maintained by the Kohler Foundation and local enthusiasts. There are several places like this in Wisconsin and I am slowly making my way to all of them. It’s a lonely quest! Surprisingly, on a cold November afternoon in Northern Wisconsin, about an hour south of Ashland, the concrete garden had many visitors. Fred was a lumberjack and created his sculpture garden in the 1940s. The figures express aspects of rural life he thought important and there are some fantastical creations too, along with the usual patriotic symbols such as the Statue of Liberty. Imagine how restricted he was by local mores and hard-nosed critics… Difficult to be creative in such an environment so there is nothing very scandalous. But it is charming. Now that the photos are up I see how weird it all is and, as with all great art, how the characters he created seem to have a life of their own. Not seem, actually they do have a life that is continuous and evolving long after Fred’s death.
Lots of artists keep finding their way over here. A group of tap dancers came in before their show at the Cowles Center and I continue to see people from the Opera, the Guthrie and just about anyone interested in the arts. I am always surprised by print and painting collectors who like to talk about their latest finds. The Ed Sheeran tour called and had me over to US Bank Stadium so that I d give Ed and the crew a tune up. I have cordless tools and make house calls like this whenever necessary. It is fun to get out of the shop!
Thank you Billy Bragg and crew. I had a great time at the Fine Line. A packed house and everyone singing along to most of the songs. Thanks for putting my wife and I on the guest list. I was able to brag (!) about it to all my local musician friends one of whom said “Yeah, I’ve seen him like 16 times.” Billy Bragg and Minneapolis–a good fit.
Have a couple of new pin-ups in the shop–old calendars actually–and a Howard Baer for those of you who love obscure WPA stuff, “First Day of School.”
New addition! Found a German Expressionist etching/aquatint at an Estate Sale by Max Klinger “The Philosopher,” circa 1890. A man clinging to the top of an iceberg or mountaintop in the wilderness has reached the end of his quest but lost his glasses (!) and gropes blindly, unable to reach them as they slide away. Written in the snow is the cryptic message Sciens Nescieris. Anyone speak Latin? I need some help on this one.
This website was created by Dave Skarjune. Thanks Dave! A true friend to small business.