Two Merrill artists are among the winners of 42 prestigious statewide awards from the Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP). Miira Allen received an award for “Sky Dancer” and Pat Manderfield received one for “Dry Dock” as part of the organization’s juried state exhibition, which runs through Sept. 23 at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau.
WRAP is a University of Wisconsin-Madison program that encourages adults to create visual art, share it with their communities, and connect with fellow nonprofessional artists. Participants show their work at regional exhibitions, where they receive feedback from experts and build their art knowledge at workshops and presentations. Professional artists give state awards to outstanding work from these events. Artists who win these awards may show their work at the state exhibition, where they compete for nearly $5,000 in prize money.
“These awards recognizes artistic excellence and gives nonprofessional artists a statewide audience for their work,” says WRAP Director Liese Pfeifer. “These artists also have their work judged by Margaret LeMay, a nationally renowned artist, consultant, and gallery director, when they exhibit at the state level.”
The state exhibition culminates in a conference that kicks off Friday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m., with a fundraising gala at the Center for the Visual Arts. The evening’s highlight is Tiny Treasures, an exhibition featuring works that measure 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Attendees may purchase these slight delights, with proceeds going to WRAP and the Wisconsin Regional Artists Association (WRAA). Selected artists win cash prizes and see their work reproduced in a calendar. The conference also includes award ceremonies, learning opportunities, and a speech by LeMay.
WRAP began as the Wisconsin Rural Art Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1940. Its first director, painter John Steuart Curry, founded it to foster creativity in rural areas. Now part of UW–Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies, WRAP hosts its annual exhibition and conference with WRAA, a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to supporting nonprofessional artists.