Gallery of Wisconsin Art: Opening in downtown West Bend

Contact: Ric Hartman

West Bend – Ric Hartman, one of the foremost collectors of early Wisconsin art, announced today the opening of the Gallery of Wisconsin Art in downtown West Bend.

The grand opening and reception is set for Saturday June 3 from 4 to 9 p.m.

“There is such a rich heritage of Wisconsin art, yet no gallery specializes in promoting or selling it,” Hartman said. “That will be our role.”
In addition to the work of early artists dating to 1900, the new gallery will exhibit both accomplished and contemporary artists. It will offer a wide variety or fine art, including paintings, prints, crafts, sculpture and ceramics – all from Wisconsin artists.

“I have had the joy of collecting Wisconsin art for more than three decades, and I want to share that joy with other people. Our gallery will promote Wisconsin’s creative human resources and allow people to experience beautiful works, buy them, take them home, put them on their walls and have them become part of their lives.”

His facility at 303 Water Street is in the heart of a very lively downtown. It is adjacent to the fast-flowing Milwaukee River, to the Eisenbahn Trail that is active with bikers and hikers, to the Museum of Wisconsin Art and its proposed cultural campus and to the city’s sculpture collection. It is also close to the growing number of restaurants and shops downtown.

Hartman’s gallery will be one of the largest in the state with more than 6000 square feet of display space.

The restored two-level, 10,000-square-foot building will also be home to a non-profit coffee shop, operated by the Volunteer Center of Washington County. It will open this fall.

“We want to generate support for our local non-profits and all the good things they do,” Hartman said. “We want to be a warm, inviting and friendly place for all people to gather.”

Meetings and events will be welcome.

The building, which previously was a tire retailer and an antique restoration shop, was bought by Kevin Zimmer, who has an expertise in restoration. His previous projects were renovated buildings for Dublin’s and Bibinger’s restaurants. Zimmer restored the building’s functionality and sold it to Hartman. Zimmer also served as general contractor for the gallery build-out.

Hartman has a long track record in the creative field. He holds as Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and ran his own creative design agency in Menomonee Falls for more than a decade. Prior to that, he was director of creative services and branding for Menasha Corp., a multi-billion corporation, for 14 years. He worked as a designer out of college and taught at in the Elkhorn School District for five years.

One of his designs was a finalist in a United Nations International Disarmament Poster contest and was exhibited around the world.

He has been active in civic and professional organizations, including a stint as president of the Menomonee Falls Rotary Club and terms on the boards of the Menomonee Falls Chamber of Commerce and Community Memorial Hospital.

He currently serves on the boards of West Bend Friends of Sculpture, Historic West Bend Theater Inc. and the Greater Menomonee Falls Foundation.

“It is always exciting to add a unique, new venue for art in southeastern Wisconsin,” said Jack Pachuta, president of the League of Milwaukee Artists. “The design of the gallery and Ric Hartman’s plans for the future can only expand the impact and accessibility of art in the area. We look forward to working together.”

Gwen Granzow, vice president design for the Spark AGENCY, SAID, “Ric’s commitment to featuring only Wisconsin talented artists shows his deep love for our state and the people who live and work here. His passion and expertise are gifts to be shared. I’m confident that those who visit will leave a better person.”

Regular hours for the gallery will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.