I recently spent some quality time in northern Wisconsin. The best way to spend a summer day in Wisconsin is at a cabin on a lake. Luckily my uncle has a little cabin on a lake just east of Phillips Wisconsin (about 6 hours north of Milwaukee). Aside from swimming, fishing, canoeing and various other outdoor activities this area is home to a very special place, that is Fred Smith’s Concrete Park. Smith was a logger in the early 1900’s, and later built a bar (which only served Rhinelander Beer!). In his 50’s Fred decided to start creating some concrete sculptures which honored the people of his area. In all he constructed over 200 concrete sculptures which he inlaid with pieces of glass. His themes ran from Native Americans, Loggers, Farmers, Beer Drinkers and other people of the North Woods. Smith was truly a visionary artist, he had no intention of selling his work, and simply felt that this was something he needed to do and people needed to see. In the 70’s the Kohler Foundation acquired the Concrete park and has been maintaining it since. If you find yourself anywhere near, do yourself a favor and pay a visit, it’s amazing. Also at the gift shop you can pick up a 40pg book about the park with great quotes from Smith explaining his work and a T-Shirt screenprinted by the local high school art class honoring the park. I now own both!
this is Fred Smith in front of some of his work.