ABOUT THE GALLERY AND THE OWNER RIC HARTMAN
Growing up in Wisconsin, I have always had a deep appreciation and love for almost all forms of artwork and was even a "pretty decent" artist myself.
Graduated with a BFA from Pacific Lutheran University and taught high school art in the public school system for 5 years. It was during this time that one of my professors encouraged us to start collecting by trading artwork with our classmates.
After 5 years of teaching, and somewhat disenchanted with education, I returned for grad school at UW Madison and later received my MFA in Graphic Design and Photography. The professors at UW made a lasting impression on my life.
I've worked as a graphic designer and Creative Director with various creative agencies and corporations - for the majority of my career. Later, I owned and operated HARTMAN DESIGN - a succesful package design firm for over a dozen years.
By this time I had a diverse and eclectic collection of artwork and antiques including prints by many important artists. Always cool, always beautiful, but extremely diverse. Somewhere in there, I decided it was time to "focus" my collection (and addiction) and learned to create boundaries. My boundary is Wisconsin Art.
Furthermore, I find something truly special about the paintings of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. During that period, the "American Scene" became important and even popular. The everyday life and landscape of a growing, changing, and fluctuating America was now documented by a growing number of artists - and subsidized by government programs. More specific classifications include: Regionalists, American scene, WPA era (Works Progress Administration), and Rural Artists, etc.
Several years ago the last major gallery representing early (1900-1950ish) Wisconsin artists disappeared from Milwaukee. Art of that period can be found in antique malls, auctions, yard sales, flea markets, and with collectors, however, there was a great void and need to promote these artists (most have passed). In many cases, their estates need help finding loving homes for neglected, and unsold artwork.
In 2016, the Gallery of Wisconsin Art (GOWA) opened a large beautiful gallery in West Bend conveniently located across the street from the Museum of Wisconsin Art. MOWA has a nice collection of work from that period to view, but doesn't seem to actively favor or collect it. The Gallery features ONLY Wisconsin Artists with a large selection ranging from the turn of the century to contemporary and emerging artists!
But operating a 10,000 sqft gallery, with 2 monthly shows is a lot of work! In 2019, I moved closer to retirement and closed the "brick and mortar" gallery in West Bend. But amazing support, growing awareness, effective web traffic, and growing trends in ecommerce, makes an online gallery practical, manageable, and successful! 2020 was the gallery's most successful year yet! We have only just begun!
The Gallery is about supporting the fine artistic talent throughout our beautiful state. We are about education, preservation, awareness, collecting and staying connected with the creative community at large.
If you would like to sell or consign artwork, please see our "Submissions" page. If you are a contemprary artist interested in exhibiting at the Gallery, or a homeowner/collector looking to downsize and have beautiful artwork from 1900-1950s we may be able to help you!
Please see our Submissions page.