The Mary Hoard Art Show returns to the Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson for its 60th year after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bob Hase, who helped help Mary Hoard create the first art exhibit in 1961, said the return of the exhibit is important for both artists and people who come to view the exhibit.
Hase is an artist who taught art in the Fort Atkinson School District for 40 years before retiring in 1997.
Hase, 86, will be recognized this year with an exhibition featuring a variety of his works, including paintings of local historic buildings, abstracts, images of the 35ft sculpture called “Flame of Friendship” which was designed for the Fireside Dinner Theatre, and painted Styrofoam pumpkins for her granddaughter, Emily Cole, as she grew up.
Part 1 of the art exhibit, for kindergarten through middle school students, runs from March 30 through Sunday, April 9 at the museum, 401 Whitewater Ave.
Part 2, for high school students and adults, is from Sunday, April 24 through Saturday, May 14.
Hase became involved in art exhibition when Mary Hoard approached him in 1960 to talk about starting a community art exhibit. Mary Hoard was the wife of Bill Hoard, publisher of Hoard’s Dairyman magazine and the Daily Jefferson County Union. Mary, an artist herself, was active in many facets of the community.
“One day there was a knock on my (class) door,” Hase said. “The manager brought Mary to my room and introduced her to me. She said: ‘I’m Mary Hoard, and I want to organize an art exhibition. Are you interested in creating one? »
Hase said he replied, “Of course.” He thought it would be a good way to increase enrollment in his art classes and stimulate community interest in art.
For the first art exhibition, held in 1961, Hase was co-chairman with William Unger. Unger, a friend of Mary Hoard, was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Unger painted a portrait of General Billy Mitchell which is now displayed at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.
“We wanted more historical paintings, so I suggested calling the exhibit, ‘Reflections of Fort Atkinson,'” Hase said.
The show was sponsored by the Fort Atkinson Historical Society. As inspiration, some artists have used photographs from the Hoard Historical Museum, which is a joint venture between the Fort Atkinson Historical Society and the City of Fort Atkinson. Adult entries were posted at the Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and youth entries were at the Dwight Foster Public Library.
Since that first art exhibition, Hase has hung artwork, encouraged student participation, and won numerous awards, including first places, for his own designs. He co-chaired the 40th show with Kim Karow and served as honorary chair in 2010 for the 50th show.
A Horicon native, Hase attended UW-Milwaukee and completed his education at Rufus King High School in Milwaukee. He came to Fort Atkinson in 1957 for his first teaching job. He taught grades 7-12 for four years, then taught exclusively at the high school level.
“Before me, the teachers had been here for a short time,” Hase said. “People did not stay. They left for better rooms and more equipment.
“I liked the community, so I stayed,” he added. “I could build the material things I needed for art.”
At the time of his retirement, Hase, who earned his master’s degree in art education in 1967 at UW-Madison, was teaching and serving as chairman of the school district’s art department.
Prior to the establishment of the community art exhibit, Hase and another teacher, Norma Kosharek, coordinated Fort Atkinson’s first art exhibit in 1958–59. Hase handled the upper ranks and Kosharek handled the lower ranks. They taped the art to the back of the bleachers.
When Hase agreed to work with Mary Hoard to develop a community art exhibit, Hase told Mary he had no way to exhibit the art. She sent him to her husband, Bill Hoard, who wrote a check for $50. In the basement of Emery School, Hase himself built the first display cases for use at the community art exhibit.
Hase said the way Mary Hoard helped build the windows was typical of how Mary worked behind the scenes.
Although Mary herself was an artist who worked primarily in watercolour, she did not want the art exhibit to focus on her or her works, he said.
“She was serious about some things in art, but she had more fun promoting art,” Hase said, describing Mary Hoard as someone who didn’t want to be in the limelight. .
“She sponsored the art financially and emotionally,” he said. “She could convince people to work on the art exhibit. She found pleasure in promoting art in the community.
Mary Hoard also promoted the show backstage by purchasing artwork.
Hase said that in the show’s early years, businesses were allowed in and purchased artwork before the general public could. Businesses often displayed this art in their windows to promote the art exhibition.
The Fort Atkinson Historical Society also purchased artwork, and the museum today has pieces from the art exhibit in its collection.
“Sometimes Mary would buy art but didn’t want people to know about it,” Hase said. “She would funnel the money through the historical society.”
He said it’s impressive that the Mary Hoard Art Show is still going.
Over the years, Hase said he got into his craft in many other shows. He said some of them no longer exist, even though they were good, meaningful shows.
For an art exhibition to continue, he said, someone has to provide the momentum.
“Mary was the spark that kept the fire going,” Hase said of the art exhibit at the historic Fort Atkinson Hoard Museum, the name the exhibit used for many years. After Mary Hoard’s death in 1998, the name of the exhibition was changed in 2001 to Mary Hoard Art Show.
In addition to providing financial support and recruiting and motivating volunteers, Mary Hoard also encouraged the construction of an addition to the museum. After the Luella Hoard West Memorial Wing was completed in 1968, the art exhibition was moved there in 1969.
Between the first exhibition and the move to the museum, the exhibition took place at the Dwight Foster Public Library in 1962, at the Schultz Bros. (now JM Carpets) from 1963-65 and at the Fort Atkinson Municipal Building Gymnasium in 1966-68.
Since 1969, there has only been one year since the art exhibition was not in the museum. It was 2006 when an addition to the museum was being built. That year, the show was held at the Puerner Building in Jefferson, and Hase recalls that he and volunteer Ann Engelman snagged the show on their own that year.
Over the years, other changes to the art exhibition included more hands-on management of museum staff beginning in the 1980s under then-curator Helmet Knies, and the division of the two-part art exhibition in 2010 under the direction of then museum director Kori Oberle. to account for the number of entries.
The first year, the art exhibition had about 200 entries. In 2019, the last year before COVID-19 affected the show, there were more than 900 entries, according to Merrilee Lee, current director of the Hoard Historical Museum.
Hase said the art exhibit would not be possible without the help of volunteers. Over the years, art teachers, students, and others have helped snag the show.
The student art club, called Art League at the time, hung the show for 30 years, he said. Many others, including his wife De Ann, whom he met at Fort Atkinson, volunteered to help with the many details, including promotion, registration forms, and hosting teas and receptions. .
The return of the art exhibition is important for adult artists, student artists and the community, he said.
“It’s like bringing baseball back,” Hase explained. “It’s like Aaron Rodgers signing a contract. It’s the real thing again. It’s not that we couldn’t live without it, but the community is so much better for it.
Artwork by children and adults has a message for the viewer, he said.
“It gives insight into what young people and adult artists have as a view of the world,” Hase said. “You will see artwork (being created) now because there is a war going on (in Ukraine). Artists are aware of what is happening.
Art needs an audience, but it’s always risky for artists to show, he said, adding, “They show their work to be judged.”
It’s only been a year since Hase was directly involved with the show. That was in 1962, when he was stationed in Washington State as a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
His unit was called up in October 1961 due to the crisis in Berlin, Germany. This crisis was part of the Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union regarding the divided German city.
Even that year, however, Hase was involved with the show.
“Kids would call me at my base in Seattle and talk to me about what they wanted to get on the show, so I felt like I was a part of it anyway,” he said.
This year’s show has a special display of Hase’s art, but some of his works, including paintings from Jones Dairy Farm and the Eli May House, had been on display at the museum before the show and will remain after the show ends. of the show, according to Lee.
Part 1 of the Mary Hoard Art Show will remain on display until Saturday April 9th.
Registration for Part 2 begins Tuesday, April 12. Part 2 is open to high school students attending classes in the Fort Atkinson School District geographic area and adults who live, work, or attend school in Jefferson County.
Part 2 of the show will begin on Sunday, April 24; the museum will be open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for the opening. Part 2 is open until Saturday, May 7.
For more information about the Mary Hoard Art Show, contact the Hoard Historical Museum at (920) 563-7769 or [email protected] The Mary Hoard Art Show is sponsored, in part, by Nasco.