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Exhibitions featuring plein air painters opens in Cedarburg

Jan. 24, 2014

Cedarburg - Two artists who came to paint outdoors in Cedarburg in the 1920s are featured in a new exhibition at the Cedarburg Art Museum. “The Allure of Cedarburg” opens to the public Wednesday, January 29 in Cedarburg. In addition, a present day plein air painter, Shorewood artist James Hempel will feature recent works in a solo show “Illuminations.” Hempel won the best of show grand prize in the Cedarburg Artists Guild plein air painting competitions of 2002 and 2004. His exhibition will feature landscape and figurative paintings that are enhanced by strong light effects.

“The Allure of Cedarburg” showcases the works of two pioneering plein air painters in Wisconsin. Edmund Schildknecht and Christian Olson were both attracted to the picturesque, rural village on the banks of the Cedar Creek for painting.

Interestingly enough, Schildknecht and Olson had both studied with a renowned American landscapist, George Oberteuffer, who had worked as an artist for 16 or 19 years in France before returning to the USA in 1920. Schildknecht, born in 1899, moved with his family to Milwaukee at a young age. Edmund Schildknecht encountered Oberteuffer as instructor at the Wisconsin School of Art in Milwaukee, and in 1923 Oberteuffer and his wife housed his youthful student in Paris for a visit. According to a later recollection of Schildknecht, the Impressionist sections of the museums there had a profoundly positive influence for his work, lightening and brightening his palette. Eleven paintings of Schildknecht on display are in the Cedarburg Art Museum collection, thanks to the earlier patronage of the late Carl and Rita Edquist who acquired these works from the artist by 1982 when he was living in Maine. In subsequent years the Carlson Fine Arts Foundation transferred the Schildknecht works to the Ozaukee Bank collection which is the basis for the Cedarburg Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Born in Oshkosh in 1905, Chris Olson was mostly a self-taught artist who knew hard work on the land. He lived his whole life close to where he was born – in Fremont, Weyauwega, and for many years near Berlin where he farmed the land with his cash crop of strawberries. While Olson was drawing and painting as a youth, his first formal training came in 1925 as a result of a Kiwanis scholarship that sent him to a summer workshop with George Oberteuffer in Cedarburg. Oberteuffer at that time was associated with the Art Institute of Chicago. He and his wife, Henriette Amiard Oberteuffer, also an artist, offered summer workshops in Cedarburg. The Olson works, on loan from a private collector, span three or four decades ranging from regionalist landscapes in the style of mentor John Steuart Curry to modernist abstractions in the style of Arthur Dove or Georgia O’Keeffe.

An opening reception to view the new exhibitions is Friday, January 31, 7 – 9pm. “The Allure of Cedarburg” and the James Hempel “Illuminations” exhibitions run through April 27. Gallery hours at the Cedarburg Art Museum are 10 - 4 Wednesday through Saturday, and 12 – 4 Sunday. Find the Cedarburg Art Museum and its gift shop at W63 N675 Washington Avenue in the historic Wittenberg-Jochem mansion. For detailed info or questions, contact the museum by calling 262-377-6123 or emailing info@cedarburgartmuseum.org.

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