Blanchardville, Wisconsin BLADE Article

Blanchardville artist Chuck Bauer to be featured Nov. 5, 2006 at River Valley Trading Company reception.
When Chuck Bauer was a kid, he lived all over the world. After he’d seen it all, he decided to live here in southwest Wisconsin, on a farm in the Pecatonica Valley. And many of the vistas he so enjoys in and around rural Blanchardville are the subjects of his solo art show, “Recent Paintings,” opening at River Valley Trading Company on Sunday, November 5, with a reception from noon to 3 pm.
“Growing up and living all over the world it was easy for me to see that southwest Wisconsin was one of the most beautiful places on earth,” says Bauer, who was raised in an Army family and lived in Germany, Okinawa, Paris, New England, Philadelphia, Ohio and California. “In 1976, the ‘back to the land’ movement was in full swing and since most 20-somethings tend to be swept up in current trends, it was no different for my partner and I. We wanted to live closer to nature, and all that that implies. We were fortunate enough to find an old fashioned farm completely intact and suitable for making our dreams come true.”
Bauer says that now, over 30 years later, his original feelings for the place have only intensified, and that’s an appreciation that certainly comes through in his landscapes, and is even expressed in their minimalist names: “Hayfield Vista July 4 Dreamscape,” “Farm on Highway 39,” “Barn and Hoghouse from Savannah,” and “Hay Hollow Road in Late Afternoon.”
“Recent Paintings” showcases some of Bauer’s current work, done on-site during art classes he teaches through the UW at The School of the Arts in Rhinelander. Most of Bauer’s pieces are done on-site, actually, in one or two painting sessions in the setting, rather than sitting in a studio, painting from pictures. The technique, called “en plein air,” is French for “in the open air” and was popularized by Impressionists like Claude Monet in the 19th Century.
“Most of my paintings are of modest size because I carry my paints wherever I go, and am rarely without painting supplies,” says Bauer, who has chronicled trips all over Wisconsin, to the Southwest, Mexico and Florida. “Painting en plein air offers special pleasures and challenges: shifting light, blowing wind, expanded time, serene stillness, chill dampness, falling snow…”
For the viewer, Bauer’s landscapes tend to evoke a world bathed in sunshine and color. Most are drenched with glowing hues and imbue ordinary fields, barns and trees with a somewhat magical light.
“No one interested in the details of perception could be immune to the beauty of this part of the Midwest, “ says Bauer. Certainly not after one views “York Center Road Fields,” through his eyes and his brush.
Bauer lives part-time at his property on York Center Road and part-time in Madison where he and partner Chuck Beckwith are co-owners of The Soap Opera on State Street, which they founded in 1972. Bauer’s work is well-represented in Madison, where he shows at The McMillian Gallery on Monroe Street and Gatherings on Regent Street. His paintings are also hung at the Jura Silverman Studio and Gallery in Spring Green, Sugar River Gallery in New Glarus and Iron Horse Gallery in Mazomanie.
A number of Bauer’s paintings have been shown at River Valley Trading Company since the store opened last November, and the solo show in their gallery is of particular interest.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to show my current work in a space so well-suited to fine art, and so well supported by so many of my friends and neighbors,” says Bauer.
The public is invited to attend the opening reception, and to meet the artist over snacks and drinks. Many paintings will be for sale, and available to remove at the end of November.
By Kriss Marion