Lynn Tarnoff is Director of School of the Arts. Lynn brings to the program a wealth of experience as an award-winning artist in watercolor, mixed media, and functional and wearable art; a successful gallery cofounder and business entrepreneur; an inspiring art teacher; and a community health, education, and art development administrator. Her artwork is in private collections across the country. Lynn has degrees in administration and education from Central Michigan University and St. Joseph College. You can reach Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-890-1424. Click for more about Lynn and her artwork»
Lisa Kaufman is program assistant with School of the Arts. You can reach her at email@example.com or 608-262-7389.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts acknowledges with appreciation our School of the Arts partners:
AAUW Rhinelander-Northwoods Branch
City of Rhinelander, Office of the Mayor
Downtown Rhinelander, Inc.
Kiwanis Club of Rhinelander
Northern Arts Council
UW Extension - Oneida County
Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce
Rhinelander District Library
Rhinelander School Board on behalf of the District
Robert E. Gard Wisconsin Idea Foundation
Wisconsin Arts Board
Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (WFOP)
Wisconsin Public Service
Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation (WROF)
and the many individuals, civic clubs, associations, and local businesses for their contributions to the School of the Arts program.
In the summer of 1964, about 50 students joined six writing instructors in northern Wisconsin for the first School of the Arts at Rhinelander. Since then SOA has grown to include more than 300 student and staff participants and the more than 40 workshops available during the one-week program.
The talented UW-Madison and Extension professor, author, and innovator Robert E. Gard built the school on many of his core beliefs: the importance of a supportive environment to help people grow as artists, the power of every individual to express themselves through one or more forms of the arts, and the Wisconsin Idea of bringing the resources of the university to the citizens of the state.
In 1967, Gard wrote and received the first grant ever awarded to rural America by the National Endowment for the Arts. This project, entitled “The Arts in the Small Community,” would enable five rural towns in Wisconsin, most of which had little “arts infrastructure,” to experiment with designing a program of participatory arts for themselves. Over three years, Gard and his staff worked with these communities to establish and sustain their own arts programs and resources. Results of this effort included state-wide tours by professional companies, the School of the Arts at Rhinelander, and the start of the Northern Arts Council.
Members of the local community were key in planning the school. Among them was Ced Vig, superintendent of the Rhinelander School District. Vig worked with the School Board to provide a place for this workshop, initially a three-week experience, to thrive and grow. His legacy is carried on today as School of the Arts is housed in Rhinelander's Crescent Elementary School. For decades the City of Rhinelander, the Rhinelander School District, the Northern Arts Council, the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce, and other community leaders and organizations have supported SOA.
Initially the School of the Arts focused on writing and involved many well-known authors and teachers. Farmers and community members from northern Wisconsin were encouraged to share their stories. August Derleth, the prolific Sauk City author, served as writer-in-residence from 1965 until his death just before the 1971 School.
As SOA expanded to include other art forms, the list of prominent guest instructors from across the country grew to include Robert Bly, Studs Terkel, Jesse Stuart, Dale Wasserman, Mark Harris, A.B. Guthrie, Harry Mark Petrakis, Archibald MacLeish, and Valfred Thelin. Well-respected Wisconsin teachers — such as Tere Rios, Robert Blei, and Gard himself — returned year after year to inspire developing artists.
In 1985, Harv Thompson took over as director of School of the Arts. With his warm welcome for students and kind demeanor, Professor Thompson was the friendly face of SOA for almost 20 years. He took School of the Arts to a new level by adding more workshops, connecting community partners, and expanding the financial assistance program to make the week more affordable for dozens of participants.
In a spirit of collaboration and support, Professor Thompson designed events that brought people together throughout the week. He introduced mid-day forums that featured artists or authors; he started the Open House that invited community members to spend the evening with students and faculty; and he implemented the mini-class series, allowing students and visitors to try an art form that had sparked their curiosity. Professor Thompson retired in 2004; he still plays a key role in the planning process by serving as a member of the Advisory Committee.
Miranda Hawk started working with the School of the Arts in 2003; her first SOA as director was 2004 (with Professor Thompson literally handing off a hand-carved key in one of the lunch forums). During Hawk's tenure the playwright labs were expanded and a culinary arts area was developed. She also worked diligently to expand SOA's and the UW's relationship with the community, working closely with the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce and hand-in-hand with Downtown Rhinelander, Inc. This collaboration resulted in Rhinelander's Arts Walk, intentionally scheduled to coincide with SOA dates.
The spirit of collaboration and support has gone both ways. Hawk remembers Mayor Dick Johns responding immediately after an unfortunate water contamination event during the 2009 program. She recalls, “As I was taping off all drinking fountains, a city truck pulled up with five gallon bottles and dispensers. I had never asked. The mayor was just sitting in his office, and had dialed up the order knowing we were at the middle school without drinking water.”
Hawk left UW-Madison in 2010, and was replaced as SOA director by Lynn Tarnoff.