Forty years old this year, the Wolf River Art League has members who are working on a special event for the community. The public is invited Sept. 25 from 1-4 p.m. to view artwork created by WRAL members throughout the 40 year span of their club.
Seven locations are on the tour. One site features the work of Henry Miles, a charter member of the club who was prolific in his watercolor paintings. A native of New London, Henry created dozens of watercolor paintings depicting New London’s prominent buildings and homes. The City of New London has loaned their collection to the Art League for this one day only showing in downtown New London.
Artists Lyn Michels, Tony Bosquez and Michael O’Connell welcome you into their homes to see where they create their art, and will have their own collections on display, as well as other artists work.
The tour can take as long or as short a time as you’d like. There is no charge to take the tour. Any donations from the day will be contributed to the art scholarships the league sponsors each year.
Pick up maps the week of the event at Festival Foods, both Kwik Trips, the Chamber of Commerce office or the County Post East office.
History of the Art League
According to news articles in the New London Press from March 1970, The Wolf River Art League was formed for the purpose of promoting local participation and appreciation of art and crafts in the surrounding Wolf River area. As a major project for 1970, an art show was held in July.
The first meeting was held at the home of Jeane Trauger and charter members of the league were Henry Miles, Jr., Jack Wohlt, Mrs. K.B. Hammerberg, Mrs. Don Polzin, Mrs. Delvin Spiegelberg, Mrs. James Mergy, Mrs. Jeanne Trauger, Mrs. Edgar Lathrop and Mrs. Robert J. McCoy.
Memberships were just $1 for adults and fifty-cents for children, who were encouraged to be members. The money would be used to fund yearly projects and for operating expenses.
First time officers of the club were: President Jeane Trauger; Secretary Mrs. James Mergy; Treasurer Ed Lathrop; Publicity Chairman Mrs. Robert McCoy and Hortonville area Mrs. Delvin Spiegelberg.
The first ever art show was held July 19, 1970 as part of the Wolf City Festival. Original arts and crafts were sought to be placed at the Senior High school campus (Washington Center now) and artists paid a nominal fee of $2 for a ten foot space. They were asked to bring their own plastic in case of bad weather.
‘Cool, refreshing lemonade, recorded background music and easels for students to try their skill will be part of the Wolf River Art League’s art fair at the senior high school’ reported the newspaper. A Mid Winter Art Show was started the first year of the league as well. February 6 and 7 of 1971 the first show was held at Parkview Elementary. ‘Demonstrations in various mediums will be conducted and each visitor will be given a ballot to cast their vote for their favorite art item.’ These highlights have become lasting traditions in WRAL shows.
The WRAL always required quality, original, creative work to be shown, and stated that the league would have full decision on whether a piece could be shown or not.
Over the years the art show locations have changed, being at Franklin Park, Parkview and Lincoln Schools for some years, and now at the Senior High on Klatt Road.
Besides the full support of the school district, local clubs and businesses have been great supporters of the league throughout its first 40 years. Businesses gave art purchase awards to artists throughout the years.
“I never knew there was so much local talent,” was a comment heard over and over at shows throughout the years, testimony to the importance of the art league’s mission. Besides the annual art shows, the league has sponsored art scholarships. Encouraging student artists to take ownership of their talents and develop their confidence has been a cornerstone of the club’s activities as well.
“I hope a lot of people will come out to see the Art Tour,” commented Jeane Trauger, a charter member of the club. “I have so many great memories of all our events. And I recall so many wonderful, talented people who have contributed to our league throughout the years. This anniversary celebration is really going to be a special event.”