It is no secret that the Fox Valley region is rich in arts and culture — it’s part of what makes our community so special. So, when the Community Foundation expanded and renovated our office space two years ago, we knew we needed to find a way to incorporate local art into our environment. This was also during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most local art shows were canceled, and artists were struggling.
An opportunity presented itself when we learned of the “Quarantined” art sale at Foxley’s Art and Framing in downtown Appleton, which featured all local artists. Several staff members worked together to incorporate over $4,000 worth of local art from Quarantined into the design of our office space, expertly guided by designer Elizabeth Merizon, who graciously volunteered her time. Local artists include Jonna Rae Brinkman, Leonard Nagler, Pat Huss and Caren Benzer.
Here are photographs of just a few of the artworks:
In addition to the purchase of local art permanently displayed in our building, staff converted a large empty wall into a rotating art display where local artists are invited to exhibit their work. This enriches the visits of the many donors, nonprofit partners, and community leaders who visit our building, elevating the importance of supporting local art as a community. Featured artists will rotate every few months.
Our first rotating artist is Willow Bayer, from whom we also commissioned a breathtaking original collage inspired by the Community Foundation’s mission entitled, “Together We Flourish.”
Here’s more from Willow:
“My name is Willow Bayer and I’m an emerging artist currently based in Appleton. I received my BFA in Painting and Drawing from the Peck School of the Arts, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2018. During my last year of school, I discovered my love for collage. This became a way to create references for my acrylic paintings, but eventually the collages became works of art as well.
By investigating different perspectives and using bold colors, I recreate everyday places. My process begins by either photographing or sourcing photos of spaces, from which I create collages. My references determine what color, textures and applications to use before painting each layer. After painting, I add details with ink giving them an illustrative style. Through recreating these spaces, I reinvent the world using my imagination, but still including parts of reality.
It means so much that the Community Foundation not only reached out to commission a piece from me last year, but also invited me to be the first artist for this program. Since moving back to Appleton, I feel there is a need for more art and opportunities for artists in the Fox Valley. This program provides a wide variety of artists the ability to show their work. It is also a way to bring people together to have a conversation or is great for taking time out of one’s busy schedule to encourage people to be present.”
If you are an artist interested in displaying your work at the Community Foundation, learn more here.
And if you’d like to support Fox Valley artists, consider gifting a loved one an original artwork this holiday season instead of something from the store, or commissioning a piece of your own. A great opportunity for commissioning is the Trout Museum of Art’s “Made to Order” exhibit – you can learn more here.
What does a Community Foundation do? Glad you asked! Learn more here.