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Artist Nina Ghanbarzadeh, featured below, meticulously writes in Farsi creating in-depth and layered artworks.
Photo: Trevor Keller/ PBS Wisconsin Producer

This week, we're traversing the art world with stories of creators throughout the state. From paint strokes to guitar licks, we're diving into the lives of artists of the past and present. 

First, we start with a Manitowoc native who uses her portrait skills to celebrate diversity in her community. Then, we travel to New Berlin to meet a visual artist who pens words on paper to create movement and patterns.

We go back in time to the "Woodstock of Wisconsin" with historian Micheal Edmonds, who tells us all about the Grateful Dead playing at Sound Storm. Then, we travel back even further to the Victorian era with a modern fashion designer who is resurrecting the fashion from the Pfister Hotel's paintings.

Finally, we remember the pandemic that rocked the world before COVID-19, and how Wisconsin played a part in the heroic efforts of the day.

Stay curious,

-The "Wisconsin Life" Team

It’s give and take when Sonia Vasquez starts painting a portrait. The Manitowoc native usually starts with a photograph.

“I wanted to try to find a way to marry those two ideas of classical portraiture and community art because you just don’t see that very often,” Vasquez said.

She’s creating 10 paintings for an exhibit called “Portrait of Manitowoc” at the Rahr-West Art Museum. She chose subjects from all different backgrounds to reflect the diversity of the local community. 

New Berlin Artist Turns Text Into Art

Nina Ghanbarzadeh understands the power of words.

“You can elevate someone with your words. You can crush someone with your words. Words have this great power. They are great tools,” she said.

Ghanbarzadeh is a full-time visual artist. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, she moved to the United States in 2001. Her artwork often consists of specific words and phrases written repetitively in patterns on paper. She describes these words and sentences acting as colors or elements of design in her art.

In 1970, long-haired hippies and flower children from across the Midwest converged on a small Poynette, Wisconsin farm for a weekend of peace, love and music. The Sound Storm music festival’s lineup was stacked with mostly regional artists, but also included The Grateful Dead, who played a five hour set.

Historian Michael Edmonds tells the story.

Fashion Designer Brings Historic
Hotel’s Paintings To Life

Stephanie Schultz is a fashion designer and was the tenth artist-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. She worked on high fashion garments inspired by the hotel's paintings.

The year-long program gives a local artist a stipend and studio space on the Pfister’s first floor. In return, the artist incorporates the historic hotel into their work. The Pfister opened in 1893 and claims to have the largest Victorian art collection of any hotel in the world.

Child posing with polio vaccine bottles and boxes. (Courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society)

Decades before COVID-19, there was an epidemic story with a happy ending. During the 20th century, Americans pulled together to defeat the polio virus, putting their faith in scientists and public-health guidelines. Writer Dean Robbins tells us about Wisconsin's role in this heroic effort.

This newsletter was sent to <<Email Address>>. Wisconsin Life is a co-production of Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin.

Funding for Wisconsin Life comes from Alliant Energy, Lowell and Mary Peterson, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and the Friends of Wisconsin Public Television. For questions or comments about Wisconsin Life, please use our contact form.

© 2021 Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin, services of the Educational Communications Board and The University of Wisconsin-Madison 

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