Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP)

75 years of the Wisconsin Idea and the Visual Arts:
The Wisconsin Regional Arts Program, 1940-2015

Started in 1940, the Wisconsin Regional Art Program was established to encourage Wisconsin citizens with a serious interest in Art. People who make art purely for the love of it, rather than for fame and fortune. The purpose of WRAP is to encourage artists to develop their abilities. This year, we celebrate 75 years of Wisconsin art!

     Pictures of 2014 award-winning artwork

See these and more award-winning WRAP artwork


WRAP Anniversary & Related Events 2015

• Over 20 Local WRAP workshops throughout the state

• Five WRAP-sponsored exhibitions by Wisconsin artists at the Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Science’s Steenbock Gallery in Madison, WI

  • Historical works from the WRAP Permanent Collection
    Jan 1-Mar 13
  • WRAP Presents: The Craft of Fine Art
    Mar 14-May 2
  • Rural Rembrandts
    May 2-July 25
  • Due North: Wausau Area WRAP Artists
    July 25-Oct 17
  • New WRAP Practitioners
    Oct 17-Jan 30

Lois Ireland: Wisconsin Pastorale, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, May 23-Aug 1

2015 State WRAP Exhibition, Aug 13-Sept 26, Pyle Center, Madison, WI

• The Visual Arts and the Wisconsin Idea, A Wisconsin Academy of Science Arts and Letters Evening Panel, Sept 24, Overture Center, Madison, co-sponsored with WRAP

• Wisconsin Regional Art Association Evening With the Arts (evening reception for the WRAP exhibition), Sept 25, Pyle Center, Madison, WI

Rural Arts Legacy: Paintings from the WRAP Permanent Collection, March 26-May 30th. An exhibition of 1940s artworks from the WRAP Permanent Art Collection at ArtStart Inc. in Rhinelander, WI

State WRAP Conference, luncheon, and awards ceremony, Sept 26, Pyle Center, Madison, WI

About the program

The Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP) provides statewide art workshops and exhibits for nonprofessional artists. It began in 1940 to encourage your creative growth in these three ways:

  • Your art work is shown in a noncompetitive exhibit in your community. Meritorious work is selected for the Annual State Art Exhibit in Madison. The workshop on the last day of this exhibit includes:
  • A demonstration or slide lecture by a professional artist.
  • The exhibition judge will answer your questions on design, composition, and technique at a group critique and evaluation discussion.

The Wisconsin Regional Art Program consists of many artist workshop/exhibits that meet throughout the year statewide. Each one has a different artist demonstration or slide lecture and a different judge to lead the afternoon critique. You may enter as many Wisconsin Regional Art Workshops as you like. Your art work will be on exhibit in different communities. If your work is selected for the State Exhibit at two different workshops, you may chose which ONE you want to submit to the Madison exhibit.

The Wisconsin Regional Artists Association (WRAA) cosponsors the Statewide Exhibit and Conference in September. Half of the awards are eligible for WRAA members only. They publish an informative newsletter, Contour Notes, four times a year. Membership is $20 a year. If you are interested in joining WRAA, contact Beverly Balakhovsky, 625 N. Segoe Rd. #902, Madison, WI 53705, 608-237-6362, wraa.membership@yahoo.com or visit the WRAA Application Form Web page.

The first exhibit

Iris Furman Tellefson, charter member, Rural Arts Program (1940). Feeding Time. Oil painting, c. 1942.

The first Rural Art Exhibit was held at the Memorial Union during Farm and Home Week in 1940. Under the guidance of John Steuart Curry, the exhibit grew rapidly, expanding from 30 nonprofessional artists in 1940 to over 100 by 1947. The energy and enthusiasm of Curry's successor, Aaron Bohrod, and the WRAP directors, James Schwalbach, Ken Kuemmerlein, Leslee Nelson, and now Helen Klebesadel, along with the ongoing support of the Wisconsin Regional Artists Association, has ensured that exhibitions and workshops have remained cornerstone activities for nonprofessional artists throughout the state for over 75 years.

Take a look at these well-known WRAP alumni»

Our history

It's been a great 75 years. Take a look at our journey here»

Your contact

Helen Klebesadel, 21 N Park St, 7th Floor, Madison WI 53715, Phone: 608-262-3056, E-mail: hklebesadel@dcs.wisc.edu.

View 75th anniversary brochure»