Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1985.
Self-Employed Artist (full time),
Shorewood WI, 1989-present.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Washington, DC, “Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006,”
First Place Award: $25,000 cash and a commission to be included in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery.
Web site: http://www.portraitcompetition.si.edu
(Click on “exhibition” and “Portrait of an Artist”)
Sheboygan WI, “Eight Counties,” juried group show, 2005. (First Place Award)
Charles Allis Art Museum
Milwaukee WI, "David M. Lenz: Urban and Rural Paintings of Wisconsin," solo mid-career retrospective exhibit, September 29 - October 31, 2004.
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
Wausau, WI, “Beyond City Limits: Rural view of the Midwest,”
invitational group show, 2004.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Madison WI, “Wisconsin Triennial,” juried group show, 2002.
Charles Allis Art Museum Milwaukee WI, “Self & Other Portraits: Wisconsin Artists,” invitational group show, 2002.
Lakefront Festival of Arts
Grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee WI, juried group show, each year
1990 - 1998 and in 2002. Award of Excellence, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2002.
Peoples Choice award, 1991, 1992, 1993.
Charles Allis Art Museum
Milwaukee WI, “Thistles,” solo show, 2001.
Purdue University Union Gallery
West Lafayette Indiana, “Three realists,” invitational group show, 1997.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Madison WI, “Wisconsin Triennial,” juried group show, 1993.
West Bend Art Museum
West Bend WI, “New Work,” invitational group show, 1991.
Richard Love Gallery
Chicago IL, “Rural Scenes,” invitational group show, 1989.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Wauwatosa WI.
Boy Scouts of America, Milwaukee WI.
Fiserv Inc., Brookfield WI.
Helen Bader Foundation, Milwaukee WI.
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee WI.
The City of Milwaukee.
Pieper Electric Company, Milwaukee WI.
Sendik’s Food Market, Milwaukee WI.
TECHSTAFF INC, Milwaukee WI.
West Bend Mutual Life Insurance Company, West Bend WI.
Zetley & Cohn SC, Milwaukee WI.
Sam and the Perfect World
My wife Rosemarie had just given birth to our son Sam, and although he appeared perfectly healthy, something, nevertheless, didn’t seem right. There was an awkward silence in the room, no words of congratulation or comments about how cute he was - even though he was cute. Five minutes later the diagnosis was given: Sam has Down syndrome. “Are you going to keep him?” a nurse asked. Later that evening someone else came by to “console” us, “It’s every mother’s worst nightmare” she said.
Welcome to the world Sam.
In America today, perfection is highly valued. We dump loads of chemicals on our lawns to try and get rid of every weed, every dandelion. Models and supermodels are tall, impossibly fit, their clothes stylish and wrinkle free. Images like this tend to change our perceptions, our ideals, until finally they leave us looking around at the peeling paint on our own houses, and our less than fit bodies, and it leaves us wanting.
Perfection, I would submit, is overrated. And besides, I like dandelions.
In the painting Sam assumes the role of presenter, host, even tutor, of this most revealing examination of the civilization man has made for himself. Sam is not society’s accepted definition of perfection. In spite of that, or perhaps because of that, he really does have an important message for everyone to hear.
Deep in the heart of every large city in America, there is a central city. It is a place very different from the areas that surround it. The property values, income levels, and educational opportunities are low. Crime rates, however, are higher, much higher. Murder, sexual assaults, and armed robbery all happen much too often. Often if people can, they move out. Even when driving through, people lock their doors and worry about what might happen to them. But for the children of the central city, this is their home. Their bed, toys, and yard are in the central city. This is were they lay down to sleep each night. No wonder these children often don’t reach their full potential. It’s no wonder alcohol and drug addition are so common, when life seems so hopeless, and the road to a better life seems so steep and so long. Through a series of paintings about these social issues, I hope to shine a light on the children growing up in these very difficult places. There is hope. There are people down in the trenches working tirelessly each day to make our cities a better place. The kids of the central city are the innocent bystanders of our society - bright, eager to learn, and ready to lift themselves up - if only they had half a chance.
Sometimes it is easy to make the mistake of thinking our food comes from the grocery store. When in fact it come from the farm. And it comes from farmers. And they work mighty long hours, often for very little pay, to produce the food we need to live. Erv and Mercedes Wagner of Sauk County, Wisconsin are two of these farmers. With their age and old ways of doing things, they are a direct connection to our farming past. The transition from horse to diesel power, from kerosene to electric lights, from isolation to the telephone and television, all happened within their lifetimes. Still with this change, there remains a certain cultural isolation in rural life. They have to make do; sometimes rely on neighbors; live close to the earth, and at the mercy of the weather. Even now in 2004, they have running water only in their kitchen sink. So like generations before them, they make mad dashes across the yard to the outhouse, even in the dead of the night, even in the bone-cracking cold. All the while, an unforgiving landscape looms outside their door. A landscape of sublime beauty and magnificent scale. What a pleasure it has been to know Erv and Mercedes Wagner, and to paint a series of pictures about their lives.
Oil Paintings reproduced in association with
The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. Limited edition prints were made from the “Milwaukee’s Hope” series of paintings, one each year from 1993 to 1998, and given as a premium to club donors. An oil painting was reproduced on the cover of the club’s 1995 annual report.
Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee. A large oil painting was commissioned by the Children’s Hospital Foundation to honor past donors. Since August of 2000, it has been displayed prominently in the lobby of the hospital. Prints and note cards have been reproduced from the painting for promotional and fundraising purposes.
The Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission. Oil paintings were reproduced in their desk top calendar for 2003 and 2004. The calendars were sold at all Madison area state government offices to promote the arts in Wisconsin.
The Great Channel 10 Auction. Limited edition prints were produced from a large farm scene, “Thistles,” to raise money for Milwaukee Public Television.
Junior Achievement of Milwaukee. An oil painting was commissioned, and auctioned off at a special event to raise money for Junior Achievement programs.
Holton Youth Center YMCA. Limited edition prints and holiday cards featuring the “Peace in Our Neighborhood” series of paintings were produced as fundraisers each year from 1992 to 1995.
Learning For Life. A program to teach life skills to central city youth with strong ties to Scouting, commissioned an oil painting, and as of 2002 it has been used to promote Learning For Life in Milwaukee and nationally.
The City of Milwaukee. An oil painting “Peace in Our Neighborhood II” was reproduced on the cover of all of the 1995 Milwaukee city budget reports.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Reprinted an article originally published - as a four part series - in the Sunday paper from Jan. 14 to Feb. 4, 2001. Called “Canvas & Plow: A Wisconsin Elegy,” the article chronicled the process of painting “Thistles” and portrayed the lives of dairy farmers Erv and Mercedes Wagner.