by Marianne Walker
Jim McKnight, watercolor artist and well-known Tomorrow River area resident, has been interested in drawing and painting from an early age, but it wasn’t until his retirement from Gimme Shelter in Amherst in 2012 that he had the time to pursue watercolor in a more focused and rewarding pace. He looks forward to every chance to paint and exhibit.
For the past three years, and again this year, Jim will be showing & selling his paintings at the Annual Rising Star Mill Art Show and Sale in Nelsonville on May 27 and 28. His work consists of both landscapes and figures in transparent watercolor on paper. He says, “I have embraced narrative images that are inspired by my rural central Wisconsin surroundings and community, and look to the examples of Turner, Sargeant, Homer, and the Wyeths for inspiration. My landscapes are locally inspired, with some images also informed by trips abroad that evoke the same shared grace of human presence and natural beauty. I look for the mystery in the commonplace.”
Born in Michigan, he moved to Stevens Point with his parents in 1955 when his father joined Sentry Insurance. Though making art was always part of his life, he was a journalism major at UW Madison, graduating in the mid 1970s. “My formal art education is limited to a single watercolor class taught by Gary Hagen at UWSP in 1976. My first full sheet watercolor got Best in Show at the year-end student exhibition.”
In addition to the Rising Star Mill art show, Jim has had paintings at the Riverfront Art Gallery and Center for the Visual Arts, both juried shows, and a one man show at the Lucille Tack Center for the Arts. This coming October, Jim will open his own studio to the public on the Hidden Studios Art Tour, an honor of which he is very proud.
The Annual Rising Star Art Show and Sale is held on the Saturday and Sunday of every Memorial Day weekend and kicks off the Mill’s summer season of art related events, all of which are fundraisers to keep the mill maintained and restored. It’s owned by the Portage County Historical Society and maintained by “The Mill Committee,” a group of dedicated volunteers from the Nelsonville area. This year has been particularly exciting as the professional research of the Mill’s history and importance to the community has been completed and submitted to the State Historical Society for nomination to the National Historic Register. Thanks to the hard work of the volunteers, the Mill is in wonderful condition. State Historical representatives have congratulated the committee for their upkeep and have said the mill is in far better shape than many buildings nominated for the designation.
In addition to Jim McKnight, other artists participating this year include:
Troy Abey – rustic wood home décor; Jeanne Chase – mixed media paintings; Bob Cline – carved cotton-wood bark; J. Michael Dalnodar – etched windows and paintings; Brenda Gingles – fine metal jewelry; Susan Groshek – paintings; Marsha Haynes – photography cards; Vincent Heig – stoneware ceramics; John McDonald and Margy Kettle – metal garden art; Roxine Karbowski – silver wire horse-motif jewelry; Linda Kasten – rosemaling; Jean Kostuck – original knits; Marge Krogwold – woven rugs and demonstrating the antique wood rug loom; Gary Landowski – pottery; Ashley Megal – drawings; Mary T. Murphy – silk fusion; John Morser – photography; Kathryn Negaard – mixed media jewelry and paintings; Linda Packer – wool needle felting; Robert Rosen – photography; Karin Sieg – colored pencil drawings; Sue Semrow – woven rugs and scarves; Clark and Sarajane Snyder – wood carving and basketry; Toni Starr – jewelry and paintings; and Dianne Veeser – ceramic jewelry and small décor.
On a sad note, two of the art show’s artists have passed away since last year. Byron Shaw was part of the show for many years, giving everyone a chance to purchase any of his wood pieces from cedar strip canoes down to simple wooden tongs as well as beautiful bowls and plates he turned on his lathe. Polymere jewelry artist Milanne Buchholz of Stevens Point passed away after a very long battle with cancer. The 2017 art show is dedicated to them with a memorial exhibit of their work.
Get out your calendar and circle the dates! May 27 from 10 to 5, and May 28, 10 to 4. The show is a great family event for the holiday weekend. Tour the historic mill, buy a treasure or two, and enjoy refreshments from the Mill’s Feed Sack room as you sit on the newly established deck and patio over looking the Tomorrow River. Admission is free. See you at the Mill!