Ellen Baxter (1893 - 1986)

Birth date: 1893 Death date: 1986  
Birth location: Oneida, Wisconsin Death location: Weyauwega, Wisconsin  
Media: Painting Web site:
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Ellen Baxter
Born 1893 in Oneida, Wisconsin
Died 1986 in Weyauwega, Wisconsin
Ellen (Butterworth Goodnough) Baxter was one of a group of predominately self-taught artists known in Wisconsin as "rural artists."  Although, for the most part, their work was not of the first rank and did not achieve widespread acclaim, they were well known in the villages and towns where they lived.

Most of them belonged to the Wisconsin Rural Art Association, which still operates under the auspices of the University of Wisconsin Rural Art Program.  The program and its association was started by John Steuart Curry, who encouraged rural artists and inaugurated annual statewide exhibitions of rural art in 1940.  It was later run by Aaron Bohrod.  In 1958 Baxter received the John Steuart Curry Medal for Unusual Achievement from the Wisconsin Rural Art Association.

The Rural Art Association provided artists like Baxter an opportunity to exhibit their work, together with their peers, in a competitive climate.  The program provided critiques and direction to artists who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to benefit from a mentor.
Although most of Baxter's work was the result of self-training, she did have private art lessons and later took correspondence art courses from the "East" to learn various painting styles. She also attended some University of Wisconsin Extension summer art programs for adults.

When her husband died in the 1950s, Baxter was forced to turn to painting for her living and managed to comfortably support herself by selling her work primarily in the rural communities around her home. She has exhibited in Wisconsin at the Appleton Gallery of Arts, Lawrence University, Appleton; Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee; and frequently exhibited with the Rural Rembrandts Art Club of Wautoma.

Ellen Baxter is one of many rural Wisconsin artists who managed to continue to create art despite the lack of abundant training and artistic resources. Her regional success is a tribute to the creative spirit and the Wisconsin Rural Art Program, which strives to bring visual arts to rural areas. Baxter is represented in the permanent collection of the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, Wisconsin.

Selected Group Exhibitions

1958 Wisconsin Regional Art Association - John Steuart Curry medal
1967  Wolf River Region Art Show - Wolf River award 
1978 Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Artist in Full Maturity
2010 - 2011 170 Years of Wisconsin Art, Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI

Wisconsin Affiliations

No affiliations were found.

Wisconsin Art Organizations

No art organizations were found.

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