MANITOWOC, Wis. (WFRV) – Separate, Roberta Condon and Lorraine Ortner-Blake are a couple of artists, but together they make up a two-woman traveling art show.
The Portage artists have each created 26 paintings portraying the beauty of Wisconsin farm life and have written a book that goes along with their artwork. The exhibit, Long Time Passing, will debut at Rahr-West Museum in Manitowoc and make its way through Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
“As I watched my mother age, and see my brothers begin to think about retiring from the farm that we grew up on and their son’s farm and their grandson’s farm, it made me think about what’s changing and I wanted to record those stories from the past,” says Ortner-Blake.
Condon’s inspiration for her paintings came from Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail.
“Everywhere we looked there were farms, and at the same time I was hearing all kinds of news about the issues farmers were having and felt compelled really to document the beauty and discuss the issues facing family farms today,” says Condon.
Wisconsin is losing nearly two family farms a day. The message Condon and Ortner-Blake are looking to convey through their artwork is to support your local farmer.
Condon takes the viewer on a journey from A to Z, through her artwork. With names like Dappled Dairies, Deepening Debt to Euphoric Ewes, Economic Efficiencies, each of her paintings depict the positive and negative sides of Wisconsin’s farm life.
“I was inspired by a book I read as a child. It was an alphabet book by Maurice Sendak. As I did these paintings, sometimes the subject matter began to color the work,” says Condon.
Condon, who says this series brought her discipline, created these paintings in one year. She says this experience brought awareness of what farmers are going through.
It took Ortner-Blake took two years to complete her portion of the series. She says this project brought a deeper relationship with her family.
“I think this project really gave me connection. It started off with trying to record and revere my mother’s life and I found there were more connections with my siblings,” says Ortner-Blake.
Long Time Passing will be traveling the midwest for three years. The exhibit will be on display at Rahr-West Museum until August 1. For more information on Condon and Ortner-Blake’s art exhibit, Long Time Passing, click here.