About the Exhibition

October 15–December 4, 2022

MOWA | West Bend

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, America was recovering from the trauma of the Second World War. From the smallest village to the biggest city, society had to adjust to a “new normal” of peace and stability after years of conflict and the preceding Great Depression.

For many in rural Wisconsin, progress was slow: traditional occupations such as housewife, dairyman, electrician, and teacher still existed in abundance. But also prevalent was an insatiable desire among such people to create, to be artistically expressive, even though art was often regarded as a frippery in the context of their daily lives of hard work within their communities.

While the artists featured in this exhibition may have lacked formal art education beyond a rudimentary level, this deficiency was compensated by a deep connection to their subjects. Winter scenes, sleigh rides, barn dances, crop planting, timber hauling, fruit picking, and a country notion of what a big city looks like all feature in paintings that are as delightful as they are sincere.

In our age of global connectivity, these works harken back to a time of tightly knit communities, more person-to-person communication, letters, and if you were lucky, maybe a telephone call. These views of a long-lost world still elicit tremendous, and warranted, nostalgia.


Image: Lois Ireland, The Homecoming, 1944 (detail)