Image provided courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives.

2003 Symposium: “The Arts and the Wisconsin Idea: New Vigor for Local Arts”

Carson Gully Hall, University of Wisconsin-Madison

October 23, 2003

Gov. "Fighting Bob" La Follette

Gov. “Fighting Bob” La Follette

Summary – The Wisconsin Idea, championed by Governor “Fighting Bob” LaFollette in the early 20th century, was a vision in which civic participation, public education, and the full development of personal talents were blended.  Participants learned how the Wisconsin Idea shaped an extraordinary arts movement in rural Wisconsin and explored how such a vision could ground their rural arts organizations during tumultuous times.  The gathering included a ceremony at the site of the Robert E. Gard Storyteller Circle to be built on Muir Knoll on the University campus.  As Prof. Gard’s widow, Maryo K. Gard, and others offered words to dedicate the ground, a red-tailed hawk hovered for over a minute, directly overhead.


View the 2003 Symposium Agenda here

The Wisconsin Idea and the Visual ArtsWhile this paper by Maryo Gard Ewell was delivered in 2015, its topic relates to this Symposium.

Video –  “A Man, An Idea, and A Movement” – This is a 26 minute WHA Television show from Robert E. Gard’s series, “Wisconsin Is My Doorstep.”  The exact date of broadcast is unknown, but it was obviously in the early 1950’s.  Gard is interviewing Chris Christensen, former Dean of the College of Agriculture, whose vision it was to create a position of artist-in-residence in the Agricultural College in 1936.  In this he was aided by John Barton of the Department of Rural Sociology, also on the tape.  They are discussion the importance of the arts – primarily the visual arts – in farm life.

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The Speakers: