The Road Less Traveled Exhibition

FOLK & FABLE: LEVI FISHER AMES & ALBERT ZAHN

Faythe Levine

Dec. 4, 2016 - May. 21, 2017

Contemporary photographs and watercolors, and the re-creation of historical signage.

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Ends May. 2017

About this exhibition

The power of storytelling—whether through words, images, or figures—unites the artists featured in FOLK & FABLE.

Wisconsin artists Levi Fisher Ames (1843–1923) and Albert Zahn (1864–1953) carved animals out of wood to create wondrous worlds that were both imaginary and instructive.

Ames made hundreds of miniatures of real and mythic creatures that became the “L.F. Ames Museum of Art,” a traveling tent show. He recounted both tall and truthful tales about his “specimens” to the delight of audiences, tapping into the popularity of the circuses and sideshows that were prevalent throughout Wisconsin.

Zahn spent his days carving woodland creatures in the forest surrounding his home in Baileys Harbor. By the early 1930s, hundreds of carvings dotted the house and yard. Zahn’s birds, flora, and fauna were a vivid ode to his love of nature; the many angels and a towering family tree bespoke his dedication to traditional values. Owing to the plethora of winged forms, Zahn’s art environment was named “Birds Park.”

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Fathye Levine

Faythe Levine (TN), who collaborated with the Arts Center in developing the exhibition, connects with Ames and Zahn through her own art and varied curatorial practices. To broaden the collaboration, Levine invited master sign painter Norma Jeanne Maloney (TX) and watercolorist Stacey Rozich (CA) to summon the realms of Ames and Zahn through their own visual language.

Faythe Levine

Artist, Author, Filmmaker, and Independent Curator

Faythe Levine is an artist, author, filmmaker, and independent curator who is widely credited with articulating the rise of the DIY craft movement. In 2012, she directed the film Sign Painters, which explores the craft of sign painting, and wrote the accompanying book. Levine engages with the work of Levi Fisher Ames and Albert Zahn by illustrating the title wall with her reflections on artist environments she has visited. She also invited two artists, Norma Jeanne Maloney and Stacey Rozich, to participate in the exhibition.

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Behind the Scenes with Faythe Levine

The Road Less Traveled Conference

Scholars, artists, preservationists, educators, activists, art historians, collectors and devotees will delve into the complex subject of artist-built environments during a three-day conference at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

Through a variety of performances, panels, and workshops, attendees will share new ideas and broaden the collective knowledge and appreciation of this unique style of art making that is the focus of a yearlong series of exhibitions at the Arts Center.

The conference, titled The Road Less Traveled, is the third Divine Disorder program of the National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT). In addition to the Arts Center and NCPTT, Kohler Foundation Inc. is a hosting partner for the conference.

Sep. 27, 2017 - Sep. 29, 2017

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This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Kohler Trust for the Arts and Education, and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The Arts Center thanks its many members for their support of exhibitions and programs through the year.