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Visual Art and the Wisconsin Idea

75 Years Encouraging Wisconsin Artists
Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Explore the history and future of rural arts in Wisconsin with two of its greatest leaders. Maryo Gard Ewell, arts administrator and daughter of arts advocate Robert E. Gard, will tell the story of how the Wisconsin Idea fostered the development of Wisconsin’s rural artists. In the 1940’s, the Wisconsin Rural Art Program (WRAP) at the University of Wisconsin began to enroll adult noncredit students, gathering a group of largely self-taught artists—teachers, mail carriers, blacksmiths, farmers, and homemakers. From its foundation in the College of Agriculture to its present day home in the Division of Continuing Studies, the Rural Arts Program continues to encourage and cultivate art in all corners of our state. Helen Klebesadel, current director of WRAP, will open this celebration of the Wisconsin Regional Art Program’s 75th Anniversary with a brief description of WRAP’s current and planned future contributions to Wisconsin’s art culture.

Recorded on September 24, 2015, in the Wisconsin Studio of Overture Center for the Arts, this Academy Talk is presented by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters in partnership with the Wisconsin Regional Art Program.


Maryo Gard Ewell is both literally and figuratively a child of the Wisconsin Idea. Her father, Robert E. Gard, who created the Wisconsin Idea Theater, inspired her work in community arts development.

Helen Klebesadel maintains an art studio in Madison and exhibits her artwork nationally and internationally. Her work is represented in many public and private collections. She is best known for her large-scale, richly detailed watercolors addressing environmental and women-centered subject matter.

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Wisconsin Academy Offices 
1922 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53726
Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery 
3rd Floor, Overture Center for the Arts
201 State Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.733.6633 x25