Some art collectors collect a specific artist, others a specific style of art. And then there are those who just collect what they love. Here are four artists with ties to Wisconsin Dells whose works of art just might entice you to take up collecting.
Henry Hamilton Bennett, H.H. Bennett Studio historic site, famed 19th century landscape photographer
He is heralded as one of the finest landscape photographers of his era and, according to staff at the H.H. Bennett Studio in Wisconsin Dells, he described his profession as “artist” and considered all his photography “fine art,” although he was not a commercial success during his lifetime. Today he’s heralded as the man who made Wisconsin Dells famous thanks to his stunning photos of the Wisconsin River and sandstone cliffs. It’s fair to say he was one of the earliest promoters of the area too, displaying his photos in train stations between Chicago and Wisconsin as a way to introduce people to the grandeur of the dells. After you’ve toured his original 1875 studio and the gallery exhibits, browse the many prints for sale. The most popular photos are “Leaping the Chasm at Stand Rock” (there were actually 19 different versions of this) and “Looking Out From Boat Cave.”
Dave Watson, Watson’s Woods, chainsaw wood carver extraordinaire
On a warm summer day you’re apt to find Dave Watson outside enveloped in a cloud of wood chips . It’s just another day at the office for this U.S. Grand National Champion chainsaw carver. Asked to describe his talent, Watson let us in on this secret: “I use the sculpture side of my brain, not the drawing side. I can’t draw and my wife never wants me as a partner in Pictionary.” Early on his sculpting mediums of choice were ice, butter, cheese and chocolate. When he won an ice carving championship he decided to try his hand at a more permanent medium, white pine. His custom pieces can take upwards of several days to create.
Richard Nagle, Hand Blown Glass, glass artist
Richard launched his career as a glass artist in 1974 and has been perfecting his technique ever since. It’s not unusual to see him working away at his station in the front window of his shop on Broadway, creating dichroic “color shift” glass jewelry, figurines and paper weights. “Customer interest plays a great part in my work and I take a lot of satisfaction when they purchase the item I’ve just created,” offered Richard. The store is open March through October.
Joseph Leute, 21st century landscape photographer
Born and raised in Wisconsin Dells, this thirty-something photographer has stuck around his small hometown because of a deep connection to the natural beauty of the area and the endless opportunities to create grand landscape images. He’s perhaps most proud of his fine art Wisconsin River series prints