An old friend left us this past week. The more than 50-year old School of the Arts held each year in Rhinelander, WI and sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is no more. Robert E. Gard was largely responsible for starting the school. Bob’s philosophy was—the arts are for everyone. No matter what your income level, where you lived, or how much formal education you had.
I attended classes there in the 1960s when I had the opportunity to learn from Bob Gard. I participated in a fiction writing workshop with August Derleth, and learned basic skills about writing a novel that have proved invaluable. And much more.
Then in 1971, Bob Gard asked me to teach at the School of the Arts. I did this for 32 years. It was there that I met such national writing figures as Archibald McLeash (three Pulitzer prizes), Dale Wasserman, Henry Mark Petrakis, Studs Terkel, Robert Bly and Jesse Stuart, all writers of considerable note. All of whom taught workshops.
But now the School of the Arts is dead. Many of us are mourning.
Mark Lefebvre, longtime friend of Robert Gard, said this about the School’s passing:
Learning about the demise of the School of the Arts is hard. I broke down and cried. I thought of the many summers I spent with Bob at the School of the Arts. I think of all the people whose lives were awakened. I think of the extraordinary faculty who in that very special place made real magic happen. Bob taught me so much, most of all, how the unexpected can happen through simple belief. I am so disappointed these days with the University of Wisconsin. Belief is no longer part of its vocabulary. No greater writer than Archibald MacLeish came to Rhinelander one summer. A sophisticated guy. He could not believe the world he had entered. Imagine these "students" being exposed to this man who could not thank Robert E. Gard enough for putting him so close to the creative process. Long may the banner of SoA wave over the battlefields of ignorance!
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: The arts make a life worth living.
November 10, 6:00 p.m. Wausau Public Library, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
November 12, 7:00 p.m. Bellville High School Auditorium with Bellville Public Library. Wisconsin Agriculture: A History
November 14, 9:30 -11:30 a.m. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center. Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
November 15, 9:15 Midvale Lutheran Church, 4329 Tokay Blvd., Madison, WI.The Land (TV documentary) plus discussion of Whispers and Shadows. The community is invited.
November 17, 7:00 p.m. Hotel Red (1501 Monroe Street- corner of Regent and Monroe, Madison.) “Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, a discussion with Doug Moe. Sponsored by Mystery to me Bookstore. Book signing to follow.
November 18, Preview of TV Documentary, “The Land With Jerry Apps” Wild Rose High School Auditorium. Whispers and Shadows book signing. 6:00 p.m. Refreshments. Presentation starting at 6:30.
Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fund raiser for them):
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street