The head of the Wisconsin Arts Board thinks Wisconsin has a thriving arts community, but the funding for it trails a neighboring state by a wide margin.

The Wisconsin Arts Board toured Rhinelander, Three Lakes, Eagle River and Land O' Lakes last Friday. Executive Director George Tzougros gave a comparison of Wisconsin's funding for the arts compared to neighboring Minnesota....


The Wisconsin Arts Board toured the growing Northwoods Arts community Friday during the first of a two day stop.

The Board encourages the development of the arts and Executive Director George Tzougrous says their meetings are designed to show the board what is happening in the arts...

Campanile Center Begins Outdoor Arts Classes

Jul 6, 2015

The Campanile Conservatory of Minocqua is announcing art workshops for children and adults beginning Tuesday. Executive Director Theresa Smith says the once-a-week, 6-week art  classes expose children to an array of art forms and the outdoors. “They do things like drawing outside, they’ll be building sculptures outside, painting by the lake...we have some lovely gardens here at Campanile where they’ll be learning sketching in there, so as long as the weather holds, most of their projects take place outside.”

June saw the opening of a new arts center in Eagle River. The Warehouse Four Season Center for the Arts has offered classes for the last several years but now has a building in the downtown area. WXPR’s Emily Bright took a behind-the-scenes look at the four-year journey of the new arts center and what that’s bringing to the Northwoods region.

This is a story about a dream. A dream, followed by a lot of work.

Rhinelander Labyrinth Offers Metaphors for Life

Jun 24, 2015
Warren Lynn

Recently a listener called the station to tell us about something extraordinary he’d found in the woods. Just outside of Rhinelander, at the end of a road he’d been jogging for years, someone created a labyrinth—a huge labyrinth copied from the Chartre Cathedral in France. WXPR’s Emily Bright went to check it out, and discovered some interesting metaphors for life.

Learn more about labyrinths on Warren Lynn's  website,

Arts organizations from the Northwoods and around the state are headed to Madison Wednesday for a statewide arts conference. 

Arts Wisconsin Director Anne Katz says the advocacy group is gathering people in Madison for Arts Day.

‘We’ve been doing it for almost 20 years, and people come from all over the state.  They’re going to learn from each other, talk to each other, get some ideas, talk to their elected officials.”

Emily Bright / WXPR News


"When I grab my saw, I'm ready to carve," says Ken Schels.  "I'm hungry.  I wanna make some sawdust. I look forward to it."

Schels may not look like a poet when he’s hauling trees to his sawmill or wielding his chainsaw at a carving competition, but he thinks deeply about trees. Dressed in a plaid flannel and cap, Ken shows me around his Eagle River workshop, stopping at an 11 foot conference table he cut from a single tree from Conover. Trees, Ken says, will tell you a story.

Matthew Rethaber

Roger Hanson, a self-taught engineer and software developer, has been putting his knowledge to use building a magnificent ice sculpture for the city of Superior; but warm weather brought it tumbling down.

Now Hanson is rebuilding his creation.  

Submitted photo

The Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend is opening a photographic exhibition this weekend featuring the work of Dick Blau from Milwaukee. 

Blau was a collaborator on a book in 1992 called Polka Happiness, and his latest public work is a series of large photographs capturing Wisconsin's polka scene. Blau and longtime polka chronicler Rick March stopped by 25 dances in 2013. That journey led to this rare photo display,  polka style. Blau talked to Ken Krall about the challenges and pure joy he experienced doing the work.

The Northwoods is full of experts and artists you might not expect to find in a rural area. If you drive along the right road in Arbor Vitae, you might find yourself in a fine book bindery called Atelier. 

Florian Bieschke’s workshop, like book binding itself, is a collection of small and precise details. 

“This is the bindery, as small as it is," he says.  "We heat it by just getting more people in – five or six people and we can turn the heaters off!”

An arts organization in Land O’Lakes is planning some renovations.

After purchasing the building it’s been housed in, Land O Lakes Area Artisans or LOLA is revamping its classroom space, called the Sandra Hardy Brown Classroom.

Spokesperson Beth Brown Anderson explains that classroom was formerly a coffee shop, so their first project is to renovate it this spring to be more flexible. 

“So we are opening it up, and we are putting in storage and lighting.  So that it can do everything from cooking classes to watercolor, to you name it.” 

Ironwood Theater

On a recent Saturday evening, the classic marquee of the Historic Ironwood Theatre was lit on Aurora Street in downtown Ironwood, and a crowd bustled into the theatre. However, this wasn’t a typical night at the movies.  This was a silent film screening, complete with live organ accompaniment.

With popcorn and soda in hand, the crowd took their seats to watch the silent film classic Phantom of the Opera at the Historic Ironwood Theatre. 

Matthew Krusack

The Northwoods is home to its very own children's museum, a place where the interactive exhibits are designed to stimulate children's creativity.  But as WXPR's Emily Bright reports, it takes the efforts and creativity of an entire community to keep it running.

Cindy Thompson gets down on her knees to explain the rules of the Northwoods Children’s Museum to my two-year old.

“Okay my friend, look here. See this red line, and the red light way up high? What does red mean?

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The watercolor artist Bjorn Bernstrom is well-known in his native Sweden for his landscape paintings.  Yet his style is somewhat different from traditional watercolor methods.   

It’s October when the trees outside are bursting with color, and Bjorn Bernstrom is painting an early autumn scene of a road curving into bright trees. A circle of students watches with rapt attention as he creates the trees with short stabbing motions of his brush. 

“What’s the difference between the way you paint and traditional watercolor technique?" I ask him.

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The Director of Minocqua's Campanile Center of the Arts has died.

Woody Woodruff passed away Thursday morning at the age of 58.

Joseph “Woody” Woodruff is believed to have suffered  an apparent  heart attack early Thursday. Friends say it happened at his home in Minocqua, during his regular 4:30 a.m exercise routine.


Woodruff was well-known in the community as a business owner and Executive Director for the Campanile Center for the Arts.