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Something Memorable

Photo of Jason A. Smith

You might have noticed something different about our cover.

This will be the first issue in my thirteen years as editor of the magazine in which we don’t feature a real person on the cover. I thought that featuring a figurative sculpture—or imagined person, if you like—might be a fitting introduction to our cover story on the Art Preserve, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s new facility that houses the artistic works of environment builders, which can include whole rooms and even houses full of and made from art.

By showing a figurative sculpture on the cover, I thought I might give readers a moment to pause and consider the “people and ideas” of our name, collapse them into one iconic element that represents the vision of the late Ruth DeYoung Kohler and all of the artists, curators, and collaborators that came together to make the Art Preserve—the only museum of its kind—a reality.

Environment builders such as Phillips-based artist Fred Smith, whose sculpture is featured on the cover, often seek to remake their surroundings in a way that is aesthetically pleasing or provides an outlet for their creativity. Sometimes they feel compelled to do so by some unknown force, perhaps an idea so strong that they have no choice but to follow where it leads. 

Too, there is another, perhaps more symbolic reason for including this figure on the cover. Because this will be my last issue of the magazine, I wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary, memorable even. By the time you read this, I will have left my position as the Academy’s associate director and editor of Wisconsin People & Ideas to join the PBS Wisconsin team as a project manager.

There is much I have changed about the magazine during my time as editor, precedents I have broken and new directions taken with the articles, stories, and artwork we have brought to you, our readers. I look forward to seeing the direction Christopher Chambers, the incoming interim editor, will take this fine publication. You are in good hands with Chris, who is editor of the Midwest Review and also happens to be our Academy Courses coordinator for creative writing. You can reach Chris with questions and words of welcome at cchambers@wisconsinacademy.org.

As for me, I will still be around, continuing to serve the people of Wisconsin as best I can.

Contributors

From 2008 to 2021 Jason A. Smith was the associate director of the Wisconsin Academy and editor of its quarterly magazine of Wisconsin thought and culture, Wisconsin People & Ideas.

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