Lynden Blog

January 9, 2015 | Willy

This is the third in a series of blog posts by Pegi Christiansen, who is a Lynden artist in residence through October 2015. As part of her project, Distance, Pegi will accompany people, in groups of up to three, on their first trip to Lynden. She will pick them up, drive them out, take a walk with them, and bring them back. As part of the excursion, she will ask some questions about distance. If you are interested in participating in this aspect of Pegi's project, please call 414-446-8794 or email and mention you are interested in a “distance visit.”

On Wednesday morning, October 22, I visited Lynden with two more members of the Grand Avenue Club. Tuesday had been windy and overcast, but Wednesday was calm and the sun poked out now and then. With no wind, Cathy Litwin, Aaron Leverence and I could see the clouds and trees reflected in the pond.

I explained on the drive out that 4000 trees were planted at Lynden when it was converted from cornfields into a private garden for Harry and Peg Bradley in the 1930s (the sculptures didn't begin to arrive until 1962). Cathy told us she has a friend who plants a tree for every grandchild.

The first question I asked Aaron and Cathy was, “If you could use a Star Trek transporter so you could step in right now and arrive somewhere else immediately, who would you want to see?” I was delighted to hear from Aaron that scientists have teleported atoms. In the Netherlands this year three atoms were teleported about ten feet. Who knows what might be possible ten years from now?

Cathy currently has a niece in Argentina. She would want to go to there to “see what she’s seeing.”

Aaron, thirty years old, lives in Elm Grove and has a nine-year-old brother who lives in Cudahy. He wishes he could see him more often, but acknowledges that “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” As he reminded me, “Sometimes you take people who are close to you for granted.”

Cathy picked up some leaves from the ground. After she moved to Milwaukee, she would press leaves in a book and send them in letters to her godparents in Manitowoc, and they would send leaves back. Cathy and her sister-in-law in Minnesota exchange cards with each other. She likes choosing which card to send. She generally doesn’t keep the letters and cards she has received, instead anticipating new ones in the mailbox. Cathy is an acute observer of people's penmanship: “My godmother wrote large and clear,” she recalls. “My husband had swirly handwriting.”

I mentioned the photographers I know who used to live in Manitowoc, John Shimon and Julie Lindemann. It turns out they photographed a friend of Cathy's, Susan, and Susan’s daughter. “Everyone is connected in a smaller city,” she said. “A smaller city keeps you grounded.”

On our way back to the car we walked by a stunning stand of birches where I took a picture of Aaron and Cathy.


January 5, 2015 | Willy

This is the second in a series of blog posts by Pegi Christiansen, who is a Lynden artist in residence through October 2015. As part of her project, Distance, Pegi will accompany people, in groups of up to three, on their first trip to Lynden. She will pick them up, drive them out, take a walk with them, and bring them back. As part of the excursion, she will ask some questions about distance. If you are interested in participating in this aspect of Pegi's project, please call 414-446-8794 or email and mention you are interested in a “distance visit.”

Colleen Kassner is the type of person you can count on to share enthusiasm for an idea. Colleen is the Gallery Director for Gallery Grand at the Grand Avenue Club in downtown Milwaukee, where she also teaches art. The Grand Avenue Club provides adults with mental illness a place to come and participate in activities 365 days a year. When I emailed her about taking members to Lynden she responded, “A resounding yes!”

On the afternoon of October 21, Colleen and GAC members Deb Olson and Herbert Walker came with me to Lynden. Although chilly and windy, we had a spirited visit. Deb taught me a lot and asked good questions. She loves weeping willows, so I took a picture of her under one by the pond. The willow’s leaves remained green, though birch trees nearby had lost all their leaves. She recalled ironing leaves between pieces of wax paper when she was young. This inspired me to bring home some sunlight yellow gingko leaves to preserve.


Deb wanted to know what animals we might see. I mentioned coming upon a group of eight wild turkeys by George Sugarman’s yellow-painted aluminum sculpture Trio one morning. Deb told me there are wild turkeys where she lives at 20th and Layton, too. I never would have guessed this was possible near an expressway interchange.

One of the questions I have been asking people focuses on how you can feel more distance with someone in the same room than with someone miles away. “Some people are coldblooded and can’t warm up,” said Deb. “You can know them for years and years and not get close.” Deb can sense right away if she will be able to make a connection with someone she meets.

Herbert had a huge challenge overcoming distance. As a youth, his Aunt Ruby lived in Minneapolis. Her husband drove a bus and Herbert would ride the bus with him when he visited. They got divorced and Aunt Ruby moved to Arkansas. When Herbert was 21 he was visiting her and she had a heart attack right in front of him. No one else was home. He is 55 now and though Aunt Ruby is dead he has been able to sustain his relationship with her by seeing her children. Her son is a professional golfer and Herbert got to play a round with him. Just five years ago, he met her daughter for the first time.

Herbert was using a GAC camera to take pictures. In the second photograph for this post, he is sitting next to Deb, with Colleen standing to the side. They are at one of the highest spots at Lynden, where we went to view the grounds on this gray day.


After our walk, we warmed up in the Lynden gallery. As we looked at a painting, Colleen explained that in the Renaissance it took six months just to prepare a canvas for painting. The rabbit-skin glue and gesso took this long to dry. She is grateful for modern materials that allow her to paint right away.

November 6, 2014 | Willy

This is the first of what will be a series of blog posts by Pegi Christiansen, who is a Lynden artist in residence through October 2015. As part of her project, Distance, Pegi will accompany people, in groups of up to three, on their first trip to Lynden. She will pick them up, drive them out, take a walk with them, and bring them back. As part of the excursion, she will ask some questions about distance. If you are interested in participating in this aspect of Pegi's project, please call 414-446-8794 or email and mention you are interested in a “distance visit.”

Executive Director Polly Morris mentioned that artist and educator Paul Druecke would be bringing out a class from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and suggested I contact him. This excited me! I used to teach at MIAD and the students tend to be full of ideas. They proved true to form.

I pulled up in front of MIAD at 4:20 on October 16, 2014. The class, titled "Post Studio Practices," has seven students. Paul, who has a temporary installation at Lynden, asked if my walk and talk about distance could include all of them. I had prepared eight questions, so one for each student plus Paul. Perfect!

After the two carloads of students met up at Lynden, I walked with them to three of the temporary sculptures, Sightseer, Feast, and Seedpod, as well as Open-Air Writing Desk, while I asked questions. Two topics came up repeatedly when they responded.

Many brought up the importance of distance. They appreciated being away from their families in order to develop their own identities. “I needed breathing space from my family,” is how one student put it. In another case, a student realized she was mimicking her parents in ways she wanted to change. A third student explained she had developed a closer relationship with her father from a distance. “We were not in the moment,” she said. On the phone they were able to talk about family dynamics and then work through problems in what she described as “a healthier way” when she returned home.

A number of students had strong reactions about technology and distance. Michael Collazo called Facebook “fake” because people create a certain persona. Two agreed with Michael and gave the example of students getting scared off by assertive Facebook comments that didn’t really express a person’s full personality. Some said you present yourself in a certain way no matter when or how you communicate.

Evin Sagduyu has grandparents who live in Turkey. His family used to visit every summer, but it has been four years since the last trip. “Skype is not the same because you aren’t interacting,” Evin said. “When I am there I am involved; Skype is a routine.” Nick Kinsella, in counterpoint, sometimes feels closer to people he communicates with online who live in other countries than with people in the same room.

Two surprises happened. First, we got lost. Of course we weren’t really lost. It is impossible to lose sight of the service road or the pond. However, on our way over to view David Robbins’s Open-Air Writing Desk, we approached it using a different route than I usually take. Paul and I both needed to backtrack to find it. I like getting disoriented. It shakes up my senses and I notice things I hadn't before.

I have explored Lynden day and night, and during all four seasons of the year, but had never experienced sunset. The picture shows my first. The sky cleared an hour before we departed from MIAD after days of rain and clouds making it an extra-special second surprise.

Pegi Christiansen - Distance visits
Photo: Paul Druecke

September 8, 2014 | Willy

In the second half of its eleventh cycle, the Fund provided assistance with shipping and travel to seventeen individual artists. These artists—six of them past Nohl Fellows—work in a range of media. Their exhibitions took them to Anchorage, Alaska; Kansas City, Kansas; Bangor, Maine; St. Mary's City, Maryland; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Canton, Missouri; New York, New York; and Kenosha, Wisconsin. Destinations abroad included Quebec, Canada; Shanghai, China; Varennes-sur-Loire and Yerres, France; Ballyvaughan, Ireland; Malaga, Spain; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2012 Nohl Fellow Lois Bielefeld received support for Androgyny, a solo show at The Rita at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha. The exhibition explores the power and complexity of gender identity in a series of photographic portraits, videos, and a large-scale installation.


As the recipient of a major award in a national juried Watercolor U.S.A. Honor Society exhibition, Christine Buth-Furness had a painting selected for Watercolor Now!, the 2014 WHS Small Works Exhibition in the Mabee Art Gallery at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri.


Cecelia Condit, a 2004 Nohl Fellow, traveled to Ireland for A Stone's Throw, a solo exhibition at the Burren College of Art Gallery in Ballyvaughan. She showed a three-channel video installation, shot in Ireland during a prior residency, and large-format composited photographs.


Christopher Davis-Benavides and Karen Gunderman both traveled to China to participate in the 2014 Fourth Biennial Shanghai International Contemporary Porcelain Art Exhibition at the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum and the International Modern Pot Art Museum in Yi Xing. They exhibited their work, lectured, and served as members of the international awards selection committee.



Paul Druecke (Nohl Fellow 2010) was invited to exhibit a new public sculpture as part of the Marlborough Gallery's Broadway Morey Boogie in New York City. The group show of outdoor sculpture by American contemporary artists extends from Columbus Circle to 166th Street on Broadway.


Sally Duback is making two trips to Grand Rapids, Michigan to participate in ArtPrize 2014. She is exhibiting Nature's Children, a large mixed-media mosaic.


Jenna Knapp will spend two weeks in Amsterdam at Kulter, an independent gallery and a collective that organizes projects at relevant sites. Knapp, a recent graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, will be participating with other artists, musicians and performers in a site-specific group show.


Xav Leplae and his Riverwest Radio project (a neighborhood radio station that broadcasts live from the window of his Riverwest Film & Video store) have been invited to participate in the Detroit iteration of The People's Biennial, a traveling show curated by Jens Hoffman and Harrell Fletcher. Leplae, a 2008 Nohl Fellow, will travel to MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) with three other Milwaukee artists to create and activate a fantasy web radio installation inside the museum.


Patrick Lichty traveled to Anchorage, Alaska for a solo exhibition at the Institute for Speculative Media at Out North Contemporary Arthouse. He also taught a workshop on drone cinema using a DJI Phantom Drone, and continued his field research in Alaska, using his drone for artistic purposes, mapping and scientific study of global warming at the Exit Glacier in the Kenai National Forest.


As a finalist in the 6th edition of the Pollux Awards, Joseph Mougel was invited to exhibit Blanc 016 in the 3rd International Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography at the Municipal Heritage Museum in Malaga, Spain.


Mark Mulhern, a 2003 Nohl Fellow, exhibited works from his pigeon series in the gallery at Le Manoir de Champfreau in Varennes-sur-Loire, France. Aptly, the gallery was entered through a 16th-century pigeonnier. Mulhern, who also makes artist books and monotypes, met with curators at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.


Christopher McIntyre Perceptions received support for a solo exhibition of his photographs at KAHBANG Arts, a nonprofit arts organization in Bangor, Maine.


Colette Odya Smith has been invited to be the guest of honor of the Societe des Pastellistes de France at their fall international exhibition of pastel paintings at the Caillebotte Park in Yerres. She will exhibit fifteen paintings and meet society members in Paris and at the public opening reception.


Marc Tasman, a 2004 Nohl Fellow, exhibited twenty photographs from Laurentian Internationale at Galerie Remise in Saint-Hippolyte, Quebec. The documentary series spans six years and explores one family's connection, over five generations, to a land community and their attempts to preserve its culture and natural resources,


Lynn Tomaszewski will travel to St. Mary's City, Maryland, for a solo exhibition at the Boyden Gallery at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Tomaszewski will be exhibiting paintings, large wall drawings, and two interactive installations.


Christopher Willey received support for Lanterns, a collaborative exhibition/installation with Tonia Klein at The Hown's Den: A Nomadic + Domestic Exhibition Space in Kansas City, Kansas. The work references doorknockers and lanterns that Willey saw in China, and incorporates Klein's screen printing practice.


May 31, 2014 | Willy

From the Wild Side is a recurring feature on our blog. Author Bob Retko has been on the staff at Lynden since 1966.

Photo: Robert Retko

Above is a photo that I took this morning of a hen wood duck in one of our wood duck nest boxes. She started incubating in early May and, as you can see in the photo, it appears that the ducklings are in the process of hatching. After hatching they will remain in the box for about a day. The hen will then leave the box and check the surroundings for predators. When she has determined the area is safe, she will call to the brood. The ducklings will respond to her call by climbing up the wall of the nest box and one by one jumping from the entrance hole. They will drop to the ground, sometimes from a high nest cavity in a tree. When the nest is over dry land the ducklings often bounce and are not harmed by the fall.

Once the ducklings have left the nest box the hen will assemble the brood and lead them to water where food and cover are abundant. The ducklings will not return the nest box, unless they return as adults in following years to incubate a clutch of eggs.

At Lynden, once out of the nest box, a wood duck hen and her ducklings may only stay on our ponds for a day or two at the maximum. The hens generally find other waters that have better overhead cover to protect from predators.

May 27, 2014 | Willy

In the first half of its eleventh cycle, the Fund provided assistance with shipping and travel to fourteen individual artists. These artists—five of them past Nohl Fellows—work in a range of media. Their exhibitions took them to Birmingham, Alabama; Weed, California; DeKalb, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Winona, Minnesota; Galloway, New Jersey; Columbia, South Carolina; Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Johnson, Vermont; and Blacksburg, Virginia. Destinations abroad included Vienna, Austria; Reykjavik, Iceland; Trondheim, Norway; and Hanoi, Vietnam.

January 5, 2014 | Willy

From the Wild Side is a new, regular feature on our blog. Author Bob Retko has been on the staff at Lynden since 1966.

Photo: Bob Retko

Back in 1928 when Mr. & Mrs. Bradley acquired the property that is now the Lynden Sculpture Garden the land was being farmed and pastured. What is now the Village of River Hills was rural and agricultural, with fields and woodlots that contained a more diverse population of native forbs, grasses and woodland plants than River Hills has today. While there are many factors that reduced the diversity of the Village’s flora, perhaps one of the biggest negative factors has been the impact of invasive plant species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, garlic mustard and reed canary grass.

Prior to about 1990, while an effort was made to control some of the major invasive woody plants such as buckthorn and honeysuckle at Lynden, most of the control efforts failed to keep pace with invasive brush regeneration. In recent years, with the acquisition of a tractor mounted rough cut mower and more effective herbicides for controlling re-growth, the biomass of woody invasives has declined dramatically. In an effort to add more plant diversity to Lynden’s natural areas, the staff has planted both transplants and seeds of native forbs and grasses. If you have walked the trails during the peak of the bloom in mid-July you will see many prairie plant species that did not exist at Lynden just ten years ago. While great strides have been made to restore native plant diversity there are still many field areas dominated by cool season turf grasses or plants like sweet clover or wild carrot.

Photo: Bob Retko

Late fall or early winter is an excellent time to disperse native plant seeds collected earlier in the season. Our favorite time is after the first snow of the season. The snow allows you to see your coverage pattern and the seeds will rest over the winter, receiving a cold treatment that allows them to break dormancy in spring. The freeze and thaw action over the winter and spring will also allow for better seed to soil contact.

One method we utilize at Lynden involves sawdust, a box-type trailer, native plant seeds and a leaf blower. This method can be used by anyone wanting to add plants to their native plant area, filling voids in the landscape. It may not be as sure-fire as planting transplants or drilling seed into a prepared seedbed but it is easy, cost-effective and fun to do.

First, as native plant seeds ripen during the late summer and into the fall, collect seeds in the field. Not all seeds ripen at the same time, therefore one has to monitor the seed ripeness of the target species. Store the seeds and/or seedpods in brown paper bags in a cool, dry location, making sure the seeds are dry and do not mold over. Brown lunch bags work great and you can buy 50 for a $1. If you are collecting seeds on property you do not own, make sure that you have the permission of the landowner, or the state or federal property manager.

Photo: Bob Retko

Second, once you have completed harvesting all of your seed species and the seed material is dry, break open any pods, flower heads, etc. Do not worry about cleaning the seeds of petal, hulls, or other debris.

Third, locate a source of untreated sawdust, wood shavings, or fine wood chips. Avoid chips made from curbside brush, as there is a potential for invasive plant seeds being mixed in at the time the brush is chipped.

Fourth, place a layer of sawdust in your container, then a fine layer of seeds, followed by another layer of sawdust. Repeat until you have the desired volume in your container, trailer, etc.

Fifth, disperse the seed/sawdust mixture across the area you intend to seed. If you load your mixture into a trailer or other vehicle cargo box, one person can drive the vehicle slowly while another person blows the seed/sawdust mixture out of the cargo box with a leaf blower in a controlled manner. For smaller areas all one needs to do is broadcast the mixture by hand.

Early winter is a great time to add to the diversity of the landscape you manage. You might not see the results the first year or two, as most prairie plants take that time to establish their root systems. However, you will be surprised in the years ahead to find some native plants you had not seen on your property before. If someone should ask you about them, you can take the credit for your seed dispersal efforts.

Photo: Bob Retko

July 5, 2013 | Willy

Congratulations to the recipients in the 2012 Summer Cycle of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Suitcase Export Fund. The fund provides support to greater Milwaukee artists who are exhibiting or screening work outside the immediate four-county area. This group of artists will be taking work to Hamburg, Germany; Suceava, Romania; Manhattan, New York; Peoria, Illinois; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Nashville, Tennessee; Baker, Nevada; Portland, Oregon; Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The fund reopens in December.

Kevin Giese: Giese is participating in a two-person exhibition at the MacRostie Arts Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration.

T6013_Giese, Pine Forest

William Zuback: For a solo exhibition at the Frank Juarez Gallery in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where Zuback will be exhibiting part of his series of photographs taken in rear-view mirrors, Identity.

Jon Horvath: Horvath co-curated a group exhibition with Tara Bogart that features nine Milwaukee artists (Kevin Miyazaki, Sonja Thomsen, Jason Yi, Naomi Shersty, Nicholas Grider, Mark Brautigam, and Lindsay Lochman/Barbara Ciurej, as well as the co-curators) at the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon.

T7713_Horvath (Wide Eyed2)

Brad Lichtenstein: Lichtenstein will be screening his film As Goes Janesville twice at Lipscomb University’s Human Docs, a social justice documentary film series, in Nashville, Tennessee. He will also participate in 2-3 panel discussions including one for the Christian Scholars conference.


Kristin Gjerdset: To transport a triptych of acrylic paintings on wood planels to Great Basin National Park in Baker, Nevada, where it will be put on public display and become a part of the museum's permanent collection. Gjerdset was a Darwin Lambert artist-in-residence at the park in the fall of 2012, and the triptych was inspired by the flora and fauna she saw there.

T8513_Gjerdset_Water Preliminary Study

Tim Stoelting: Stoelting will create a new installation from his series Architectonic to exhibit at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts’s Vault media gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan in conjunction with Art Prize 2013.

T2113_Stoelting Architectonic installation2

Fred Stonehouse: Stonehouse will travel to Hamburg, Germany to participate in the group exhibition Don't Wake Daddy at Feinkunst Kruger. The annual exhibition includes artists from across Europe and the US.

T6513_Stonehouse_dream of the marsh

Ashley Morgan: For a solo exhibition at the Peoria Art Guild/Foster Art Center in Peoria, Illinois. Morgan is creating 3 site-specific installations.


Adam Krause: For a “performance art version of a reading" from his new book, The Revolution Will Be Hilarious, at Bluestockings, a bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Krause reads through a series of tape delays, creating a “repetitive and minimalist sound work, with a strong visual element accompanying it” (in this case, a video projection of a large kinetic sculpture that he made and deployed at a Milwaukee performance).


Christopher McIntyre: McIntyre will travel to Suceava, Romania to participate in Border Cities & New Identities – International Art Festival of Architecture, Photography, Video Art, Computer Graphics, Painting and Performing Art at the The Water Plant Center of Architecture, Urban Culture and Landscape. The theme of the festival is “hybridization between identities and urban environment” and it is organized by International Art Expo, a not for profit located in Bari, Italy that “provides a significant forum for cultural dialogue between all artists from different cultures and countries."

T7413_McIntyre_Darkness Flees

Beki Borman: To ship her painting, Into Spring, to Morris, Minnesota for Horizontal Grandeur, a national prairie art juried group exhibition at the Stevens County Historical Society.

T6813_Borman_Chromascape154 Into Spring

July 1, 2013 | Willy
  • Suitcase Export Fund recipient Eddie Villanueva is opening three shows in the coming months. Domestic Dissonance: Sandra Erbacher and Eddie Villanueva is on view at Circuit12 Contemporary in Dallas, Texas through August 5. More info here. System Failure, a group exhibition curated by Sandra Erbacher, opens August 29 at The Contemporary London. More info here. Then, in September, the 2013 Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Villanueva will contribute a large installation to the front entrance. The exhibition will also feature work by other Suitcase recipients and Nohl Fellows including current Fellow Tyanna Buie and 2006 Fellow Santiago Cucullu. More information on the 2013 Wisconsin Triennial, here.
  • May 31, 2013 | Willy

    - Faythe Levine's film Sign Painters (co-directed with Sam Macon) made its Milwaukee debut at the Oriental Theater on May 16th. For more information on the film, and for future screenings, visit

    - Current emerging Nohl fellow Lois Bielefeld has a show in June at the Center for Photography at Madison. Bielefeld will give an artist talk on June 6. For more information, visit

    - Below, find some photos from 2012 Suitcase Recipient Marsha McDonald's exhibition at Chandler Fine Art in San Francisco, as well as a link to a recording of her conversation with poet, photographer and "high Sierras mountain man" Tinker Greene.



    Click here for Marsha McDonald and Tinker Greene in conversation.

    ©2010 Lynden Sculpture Garden