One of the best aspects of the Fall Art Tour is the chance to get a glimpse into the homes and studios of area artists. It’s a chance to see places you did not know existed, and that you normally cannot visit.
Last year we featured the Flanary/Peterson homestead (Living Art), which is #35 on this year’s tour.
This year, we enter the hidden gallery/work space of Bruce Fortney (#43). You may have seen Bruce’s large oil paintings at either Brewery Pottery, or the cow at High Street Sweets, or the numerous landscapes and cows at Tequila Point.
This weekend — and this weekend only (until next year) — you can visit Bruce’s home.
On a normal day, it would be easy to drive right past Bruce Fortney’s house at 512 Decatur Street, in Mineral Point.
But step into the garage and it’s a whole different ballgame.
Not only does his garage serve as a showcase for his oil paintings, but he has on display some of the chairs he constructed out of yardsticks.
On his back porch, you can learn how Bruce creates his canvases and see a demonstration of how Bruce starts with an outline of a photo before using his “wet into wet” method of painting.
Whatever you do, do not leave until you visit Bruce’s basement.
First, you will encounter one of Bruce’s popular cows among the many landscapes.
Then turn to the right and see the first piece of a large commission he is working on for the new UW Hospital American Center.
It is slated to be installed in June 2015 and is called “Sustainable Past.” The painting is based on a photo of Bruce’s great grandfather who was a Montana farmer until the dust bowl hit. The photo is in a frame upstairs in the house.
Bruce tells the story of his farmer/grandfather telling him “you only need five things” in life. In the grandfather’s case, those things were corn, beans, cows, chickens, and pigs. Bruce translated the advice to fit his own life by maintaining numerous income streams over the years — dealing antiques, working at Walgreens and various other jobs. The one constant was his passion — painting.
It wasn’t until two years ago that Bruce was able to do what he loves full-time. As soon as his social security kicked in, Bruce moved from Daleyville, Wisconsin, bought a house in Mineral Point, and became a full-time artist.
Bruce could not be happier living in Mineral Point. He can walk everywhere, he has a nice view of the Water Tower, and he has a basement large enough for his giant canvases. He even converted the master bedroom into a studio for smaller pieces.
Over the next three days, make some time to check out stop #43 of the Fall Art Tour and visit with Bruce Fortney.
- Contributed by the Hays