Waukesha GuitarTown returns for bigger installment
Project will include students at local schools
Waukesha GuitarTown is getting bigger and will involve students in its second go-round.
Last year, the community arts project, in collaboration with Gibson Guitar Corp., had professional artists design regular-sized and oversized fiberglass sculpture Gibson Les Paul guitars that honored the late Les Paul, a famous musician and inventor who was born and is buried in Waukesha.
This year, GuitarTown is expanding to a wide range of artists, from as young as middle school students to the 95-year-old Wis Guthrie.
It was announced Monday at a packed public reception at Bernie's Tap and Restaurant that teams from Waukesha West and North high schools, Central and Butler middle schools and Saratoga STEM Academy as well as teams from La Casa de Esperanza and Carroll University are joining the project.
"It's cool to have the students because we need to see (what artists) are coming up behind us," said downtown art gallery owner Lynn Gaffey, who led a selection team that chose the artists. "We're very pleased that the schools are joining us and I think you guys are going to have a ball."
Mayor Jeff Scrima said GuitarTown advisory committee member Andrea Bryant was instrumental in having students join this year. These student teams join the professional artists in decorating 39 guitars - 15, 10-foot guitars and 24 regular-sized playable guitars.
The artists designing theregular-sized guitars picked up their hardware after the reception, while the large guitars will arrive in Waukesha from Gibson Guitar Corp. in Nashville, Tenn., shortly.
The 39 guitars are an increase from the 30 in last year's project - 10 oversized and 20 playable. After they were revealed in early June, the large guitars resided outside downtown businesses as part of a walking tour. The regular-sized guitars were put inside selected downtown businesses.
Norm Bruce, GuitarTown steering committee public relations chairman, said these guitars, put away for the winter, will return to the walking tour April 1.
Like last year, the playable guitars, after painted, will be sent to Gibson Corp. for strings and related hardware before returning to Waukesha.
While the project will include many new artists, it will also include some repeat selections. But some, like Pat Mitchell of Menomonee Falls and Jeff Homar of Waukesha, who designed regular-sized guitars last year, are now painting 10-foot guitars. Guthrie, who painted a 10-foot one in 2012, will again be joined by his son and grandson in painting the large sculpture.
Others like Tom Noll and Chuck Weber are going from a 10-foot guitar to the smaller showcase guitars this year. Meanwhile, Jason Vogt of Waukesha and Connie Pelzek of Hales Corners designed the small guitars last year and will do so again this year.
Easier the second time
"It's wonderful doing this for a second year," Gaffey said. "It's a little bit easier than last time because this is not our first time at the rodeo. It's incredible to see how many talented people we have in our area."
Artists submitted a biography, portfolio and proposed conceptual ideas with selection based on artistic merit and the guidelines for public art that were provided by both Gibson and the Public Art Committee of Waukesha.
The guitars will be unveiled at the first Friday Night Live of the season (June 7) in downtown Waukesha. Friday Night Live is a music series during the summer months in downtown. A private gala is also planned the night before at the Rotunda in downtown Waukesha.
"We have high hopes that this project will be even greater and better than what we did last year," Bruce said. "So you really haven't seen anything yet. And I'm counting on the artists to deliver that."
Sponsorships are key
The Gibson Guitar Foundation and local sponsorships are funding the project.
There were more than 30 sponsors last year and the project raised $105,000 for three local charities - $45,000 for the Waukesha Public School District to purchase new musical instruments and art supplies; $45,000 for the new Les Paul exhibit at the Waukesha County Museum; $15,000 for the Waukesha Memorial Hospital to help fund the new Community Health Clinic.
This year's recipients will include the music and arts programs in the Waukesha School District and the Habitat for Humanity and Food Pantry of Waukesha County, Scrima said.
Sponsorships (at different monetary levels), which Waukesha GuitarTown Chairman Rick Congdon said "(make) the project go," are available by contacting Congdon through the Waukesha GuitarTown website, waukeshaguitartown.com.
Other cities that have formed partnerships with Gibson to become GuitarTown cities include Hollywood, Calif., Cleveland, Miami, Orlando, Fla., London, Austin, Texas, and Nashville.
"We are in extremely good company," said Scrima, who developed a partnership with Gibson representatives during a 2011 memorial dedication at Paul's gravesite at the Prairie Home Cemetery in Waukesha. "GuitarTown 2013 will build upon the momentum of last year."
Team Guthrie, Waukesha
Flo Winzenried, Pewaukee
Pat Mitchell, Menomonee Falls
Nick Brownrigg, Waukesha
Gwenda Helgert, Waukesha
Bridget Griffith Evans, Wauwatosa
Albin Erhart, Hartland
Juergen Strigenz, Delafield
Ed Legge, Dell Prairie
Jeff Homar, Waukesha
Student team from Waukesha West High School
Student team from North High School
Student team from Central Middle School
Student team from Saratoga STEM Academy
Team from La Casa de Esperanza
Valerie Christall, Burlington
Connie Pelzek, Hales Corners
Andy Haas Schneider, Waterford
Tom Noll, Waukesha
Laura Fesser, New Berlin
Ted Turner, Wauwatosa
Cecilia Blenker, Waukesha
Neal Vogt, Pewaukee
Marcia Schneider, Waukesha
Robert Anderson, Kenosha
Jason Vogt, Waukesha
Ed Jackson, Menomonee Falls
Dan Taylor, Milwaukee
Jason LeCavalier, Waukesha
Jennifer Moon, Waukesha
Charles Lichtie, Waukesha
C. Matt Luther, Waukesha
Chuck Weber, Waukesha
Student team from Butler Middle School painting three guitars
Student team from Carroll University painting two guitars
Team from La Casa de Esperanza
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