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Architectural attractions add allure to art tour

The Little Plum Schoolhouse, located nine miles north of Pepin, is one of 15 sites on this year’s fall Fresh Art Tour.

This fall marks the coulee region's Fresh Art Studio Tour's 15th year of operation. Fifteen artists’ studios and galleries can be found where people will demonstrate techniques as well as show and sell their work Friday Oct. 4 to Sunday Oct. 6. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sprinkled throughout Pepin and Pierce counties in and near the villages of Pepin, Stockholm, Maiden Rock, Durand, Ella, Plum City, Arkansaw and Bay City, artists are tucked into the coulees and hills.

“A number of the artists who participate in the Fresh Art Studio Tour have turned structures such as barns and old, abandoned schoolhouses into intriguing studios and galleries,” said Jean Accola, founder and co-director of the Fresh Art Studio Tour.

What you will find

Historic schoolhouse

One site that’s new to the tour is the Little Plum Schoolhouse, located three miles southwest of Ella. Built at the end of the 19th century, this former one-room school is not far from the Laura Ingalls Wilder cabin in Pepin, Accola said.

The classic structure, with its bell tower and front vestibule, has been maintained by the Little Plum Lutheran Church congregation and used for 4-H meetings. The schoolhouse is open for self-guided tours throughout much of the year.

Several artists at the schoolhouse site will demonstrate their techniques. See returning artist Beth Tabor, with hand-spun, dyed and woven creations, plus new participants Yvonne Wilken, with quilt and fabric designs, and Matt Anderson, an oil painter from Arkansaw.

A transformed horse barn

Wendy Ike’s horse barn near Plum City will become a temporary gallery. Stall fronts are turned into gallery walls. Find Penny Sciascia’s quilted pieces in the feed room. Kay Geraghty displays her photo renditions of local sights and countryside down the horse aisle. Accola said Ike’s passion for anything equine is reflected in her art with bold and colorful brushstrokes in watercolors and acrylics.

Renovations in Maiden Rock

The Maiden Rock Inn, owned by Gary and Jennifer Peterson, was originally a three-story, brick schoolhouse. A number of guest artists will have their work exhibited. Artists include Christine Foster, a watercolor, pastel, pencil and oil painter; Kristen Smith Procter, who creates silk scarves, watercolor and mixed media; and Suz Kraft, an acrylic painter.

Cultural Cloth

Tucked along the main drag in Maiden Rock is Cultural Cloth, where a team of women dedicated to promoting women’s economic empowerment bring textiles in from around the world.

The shop recently moved into a residence on U.S. Highway 35 that was built in 1890. The front window features art displays and the living spaces have been turned into showrooms.

A colorful collaboration

Linda Day and Bruce Dunlap created a new studio designed to suit their different medias by preventing the dust developed in Linda’s clay workspace from seeping into Bruce’s acrylic painting studio. The turquoise stained-board exterior is trimmed in fire-engine red and yellow—typical color pairings of the artist couple.

Don’t miss the chicken coop, made from a 1940s bread truck.

Familial creativity

Accola’s daughter, Ella Peinovich, has a master’s degree in architecture from MIT and helped redesign the front exterior of the Accola Gallery, Durand.

The building, designed as a home, was built as a Craftsman bungalow in 1929 but had been altered, losing much of its original authenticity. Now the Frank Lloyd Wright-style leaded-glass windows and doors on the front porch are coordinated with the front entrance pendant lamp, recycled from an old Gothic church lamp and converted to Craftsman style by Pepin blacksmith Tom Latané.

The Accola Gallery features paintings, the work of other artists and imported jewelry and textiles from global artisans.

Renovated barn

Barbara McIllrath, Pepin, will open her renovated barn studio for the tour. In 2010, a full-scale restoration project converted the 1880s timber-frame barn to four-season use.

The former stable now houses a painting studio and classrooms now occupy the once threshing floor and hay loft. The structure was made entirely by hand by the Fleming family of Pepin.

Little Plum Pottery

The studio of Art Gannett and Barbara Andersen features some new construction. After the destruction of their home in an LP gas explosion in 2011, they erected a new house farther back on the property. On the site of the old house, a new showroom has been built with space for instruction.

The showroom, unfinished at this time, is being built by family and friends and is the design of daughter Sadie Gannett, who is finishing a degree in housing studies with a focus on sustainability at the University of Minnesota.

Saved and relocated

A Laura Ingalls Wilder connection can be found in the Black Cat Studio of Andrea Myklebust. In the spring of 2012, sculptors Andrea Myklebust and Stanton Sears had the opportunity to save an early pioneer house by moving it from a neighbor’s land to their own near Stockholm, explained Accola. The house, built on a site homesteaded by Wilder’s grandparents in the 19th century, had been vacant for years. Accola said the small house, which is framed on a sill of hand-hewn logs, has been placed on a new foundation, stabilized structurally and has a new roof.

This summer the house became ready to welcome visitors as the Black Cat Farmstead Fiber Studio and Farm Store. The artists view the restoration and re-use of the little house and its incorporation within the working landscape of their studio as a connection both to the past and the future.

“We were happy to have the chance to save a piece of local history. The house is a living example of how people who arrived here a hundred and fifty years ago lived and worked,” Myklebust said.

More inviting artists' studios and galleries on the Fresh Art Studio Tour include: Abode Gallery, Stockholm; BNOX Jewelry Studio and Pepin Farm Pottery, Pepin; Flaming Fire Art Studio, Maiden Rock; Gail Pommerening Studio, Plum City; and John Turula Studio, Bay City.

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At a glance ...

What: The 15th annual Fresh Art Tour

Events: Tour 15 artist studios and galleries

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday Oct. 4 to Sunday Oct. 6

Where: Throughout Pepin and Pierce counties

More info: