Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP) Show

June 3 - June 24, 2018

The opening for the Whitewater WRAP show is Sunday, June 3. There will be a public reception on Sunday, June 10th from 1-4 pm.

The normal hours for the Cultural Arts Center to be open are Thursday-Sunday, Noon-5:00 pm.

The workshop for the event will be Saturday, June 23rd beginning at 9:30. All entrants are invited to the event for free. The workshop is open to anyone for a $5.00 fee.

The judge and presenter will be Tom Jewell, a professional artist from Fort Atkinson, WI.

About The Wisconsin Regional Art Program

The Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP) provides statewide art workshops and exhibits for nonprofessional artists. It began in 1940 with the intent of encouraging creative growth, which it continues to do today in these three ways:

  • Art work is shown in a noncompetitive exhibit in regional communities. Meritorious work is selected for the Annual State Art Exhibit in Madison.

  • A demonstration or slide lecture is given during the regional workshop by a professional artist.

  • The exhibition judge answers your questions on design, composition, and technique during a group critique and evaluative discussion.

The Wisconsin Regional Art Program consists of many artist workshop/exhibits that meet throughout the year statewide. Each one has a different artist demonstration or slide lecture and a different judge to lead the afternoon critique. You may enter as many Wisconsin Regional Art Workshops as you like. Your art work will be on exhibit in different communities. If your work is selected for the State Exhibit at two different workshops, you may choose which ONE you want to submit to the Madison exhibit.

John Steuart Curry,  Southwest Panel, “The Social Benefits of Biochemical Research”  c. 1941-43. Oil and tempera on canvas. Collection of Public Art at UW–Madison.

John Steuart Curry, Southwest Panel, “The Social Benefits of Biochemical Research” c. 1941-43. Oil and tempera on canvas. Collection of Public Art at UW–Madison.


The Wisconsin Idea, extending the reaches of the university throughout the state, inspired the original Rural Arts Program.

In 1936, an era of rapid social change, the UW–Madison College of Agriculture began a bold artistic experiment: using the arts to expand the cultural growth and knowledge of rural Wisconsin. Rural sociologist John Rector Barton and Chris L Christianson, the dean of the college, envisioned what would become the Regional Art Program. They hired John Steuart Curry, a well-known landscape painter, to serve as the first-ever “artist in residence” at any college. Curry was part of a famed trio of American Regionalist artists, alongside Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton. One of his responsibilities was to be a mentor for the painters and craft workers brought together in the newly formed Rural Art Program (what is now the Wisconsin Regional Art Program). Founded as an arts-based outreach program of the College of Agriculture to foster cultural growth, independence, and self-improvement in rural Wisconsin artists, the Rural Art Program’s adult, noncredit students would be a group of largely self-taught artists—teachers, mail carriers, blacksmiths, farmers, and homemakers residing in various small communities.

Curry guided and grew the program from 1940 until his death in 1946. He was followed by artist Aaron Bohrod, who remained artist-in-residence and led the program until his retirement in 1973.

Informal field visits offering supportive critiques and instruction around the state culminated annually in what was then called the Rural Art Exhibit. The first exhibition, at the Memorial Union, showed the work of 30 artists from 17 counties. By 1947 there were 105 exhibiting artists. (Today there are nearly 200 artists in the state exhibition, selected from more than 600 artists who participate in local WRAP exhibitions and workshops).

James Schwalbach, host of WHA’s popular “Let’s Draw” radio program, joined the staff in 1945 and helped expand the program as a part of his work with the College of Agriculture and UW–Extension.

Administration for the Regional Art Program moved to UW-Extension with the retirement of Aaron Borhod and the suspension of the College of Agriculture artist-in residence program. Wisconsin sculptor Mary Michie directed the Rural Art Program for UW-Extension, followed by artist Ken Kuemmerlein and artist Leslee Nelson. The administration of what is now know as WRAP was first shared by UW-Extension and the UW–Madison Division of Continuing Studies, and now resides entirely within Continuing Studies under the direction of Liese Pfeifer.

For more information, click here.