Follow the Yellowstone Art Trail


Forget the Yellow Brick Road—this month, you’ll want to follow the Yellowstone Art Trail instead. This journey won’t take you to the Land of Oz, but on the weekend of September 7–8 it will take you on an adventure that will offer up a little magic of its own. You’ll wind through Cadott, Boyd, and eastern Lake Wissota, with fun-filled stops at historic sites and art galleries along the way.

“The art trail is very family friendly,” said Jean Arneson, coordinator of the event and a member of Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative. “We’ll have everything from pottery, fiber arts, fine art paintings and drawings, wood crafts, stained glass art, sculpture art, lots of jewelry, and gardenware things.”

The art trail is also user-friendly. With 27 artists concentrated at just nine stops, it’s easier for guests to take in all participating artists in a single day.

To mark the trail’s fifth year, festivities will also include a full afternoon of free, hands-on art activities at Nazareth Studio/Institute of St. Joseph in Boyd, one of the stops on the trail.

“On Saturday we’ll have different workshops and activities for kids and adults like soap making, paper craft making, and jewelry making, and we’ll have an artist from Paint Me First Professional Face Painting,” Arneson said. “They’ll be doing face painting for the kids, and the adults too if they want.”

Jaimee Arneson will be sharing a stop along the art trail with her mother, Jean Arneson, at Jean’s home studio. Most stops on the trail will feature more than one artist.

Arneson will be busy participating in the art trail as well as coordinating it. Her home studio is one of the stops; she’ll have her oil paintings and drawings on display and will have prints and cards of her work available for sale.
She’ll be sharing studio space on the trail with her daughter Jaimee, who inherited her mother’s artistic talent and specializes in woodwork.

Some of the stops along the trail are local studios like Arneson’s, where a Chippewa Valley artist might also host a visiting artist. However, in keeping with the event’s added focus on local history, two stops are historic sites—the Cadott Area Historical Society and the Bohemian Hall in Cadott, both of which will be open for tours.

“It’s a celebration of the area as well as a celebration of art,” Arneson said. “We’ve had a lot of comments from people who have come out in the past about how beautiful the scenery is in this area. They just like coming out for the drive.”

Jaimee creates unique wood pieces, such as these handcrafted end tables.

Auto to Art

The Yellowstone Art Trail’s name was inspired by the historic Yellowstone Trail, the first transcontinental automobile highway through the upper United States, established in 1912. This auto trail stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in Plymouth, Massachusetts, through Montana to the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Seattle, Washington.

Because Yellowstone National Park was a popular tourist destination at the time the trail was established, the auto trail became known as the Yellowstone Trail. Part of this historic path passes through the Chippewa Valley.

“All these little towns on County Highway X follow the Yellowstone Trail,” Arneson explained. “A lot of these artists who are part of the art trail are located where the actual route of the Yellowstone Trail was.”

Co-op Roots

One such artist located near the original Yellowstone Trail is Jean Atter-Chwala, a member of Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative. Jean works in a variety of different art forms, including pine-needle basket weaving, which she’ll be demonstrating at her home studio during the Yellowstone Art Trail weekend. She’ll also have her wood eggs, French beaded flowers, dream catchers, and wildlife paintings on display.

Atter-Chwala said she likes participating in the art trail because it allows her an opportunity to interact with the visitors, and also because the trail is “home-grown,” much like her art.

“I’m mostly interested in the old crafts, made with just normal things around the house, kind of like what people did years ago,” she said. “I love going through old women’s magazines to come up with different ideas.”

Jean Atter-Chwala makes unique baskets out of pine needles. She’s shown on the facing page demonstrating her craft.

Atter-Chwala is a self-taught artist who has shown and demonstrated her work in different shows and events for many years. One of her early outlets was this very publication, which used to print member-created artwork on the front covers during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Known at the time as the Wisconsin R.E.C. News, the publication’s early tabloid-newspaper format proved to be a great platform for Atter-Chwala’s early wildlife drawings.

“That was kind of my start in drawing,” she said. “It (the R.E.C. News) was just black and white then so there wasn’t much shading. Then as I progressed I developed some shading techniques and went on from there.”
One of her cover pictures even inspired another artist. Atter-Chwala recalled that another reader contacted the R.E.C. News seeking permission to use her cover drawing of a colt running as a model for a sculpture.

Art of Recycling

Vic Rouleau, with his rustic lawn art, has been part of the Yellowstone Art Trail since the inaugural event five years ago.

Vic Rouleau is another participating artist who, like Atter-Chwala, creates his art from items found around the house. In his case though, it might not just be the house, but the yard, or even the junkyard.
“I would say it’s recycling at its best,” he said of the rustic metal yard art he creates at his home studio, known as Vic’s Visions.

Also a member of Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative, Rouleau turns old cans, pipes, gears, chains, and any other discarded piece of metal he can find into unique statues of flowers, cattails, birds, animals, and just about anything else. He’s even made a full-sized sculpture of a tractor.

Guests who would like a preview of his work can wander through the city of Ladysmith, which leased 10 pieces of his rustic artwork to display throughout the community through next May. He also created “Rusty Timber,” the large lumberjack sculpture on display in the Ladysmith Fine Arts Center, paying homage to the area’s lumberjack history.

Look, Learn, and Shop

(Photos courtesy of Jean Arneson)

Guests are free to traverse the art trail at their own pace, stopping to visit with each artist and learn about his or her craft. Artists will also have some of their work available for sale.

In addition, to recognize the Yellowstone Art Trail’s milestone fifth year, each artist will hold a drawing for one of his or her own creations. Visitors may enter any or all drawings for a chance to take a little bit of Yellowstone Art Trail’s magic home with them.—Mary Erickson

The Yellowstone Art Trail will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. September 7 and 8. For a trail map, and to learn more, visit or follow Yellowstone Art Trail on Facebook.