Wausau Festival of Arts

September 6-7, 2008

Ed Schoenberger, 1971 August 23, 2008

Filed under: Ed Schoenberger — wausaufestivalofarts @ 5:33 pm


ETS and the FOA August 22, 2008

By Bill Coady posted on the Wausau Blog August 22, 2008

Unfortunately, “Edward T. Schoenberger” is not a well known name around town, or at least not as well known as it should be.   There are no streets named in his honor, no schools or really anything as far as I can see.  His two largest works, if not entirely forgotten are no longer in their original locations, other works by Mr. Schoenberger are gone forever, like the man himself.

Ed Schoenberger was first and foremost an artist, working in a wide range of mediums.  One common thread to his work is that he had a knack for creating larger than life works of public art.

He started on that path in his native New Orleans during the Great Depression, painting a mural on the history of printing for the New Orleans Public Library as part of the Works Project Administration.  When World War II came along, Ed  found himself in the Army Air  Corps, but even in a time of war, Ed’s talent could not be denied and he again created larger than life murals, this time for US military bases.

After the war he headed for the East Coast where he worked as a designer for several companies.  With his cosmopolitian background: art schools, New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, it might seem strange that he would up spending most of his life in Wausau.  But he did.

Succumbing to the pleadings of an old army buddy, John Stoutenburgh, Ed took a position as assistant director of the Marathon County Historical Society in 1957.  I wish that Ed were still alive so I could find out what exactly Stoutenburgh might have said to entice Ed to drop his East Coast life and come to Wausau.  Must have been powerful stuff.  Schoenberger spent 50 years in Wausau, until his passing in October of last year at the age of 92.

Schoenberger might have had a job title that indicated he was some kind of historian, but no matter what the title, he was first and foremost an artist.

His art projects and murals filled the Yawkey House with educational backdrops for the exhibits.  A totem pole he carved for the museum was later moved to Camp Phillips.   After filling the Historical Museum with his work, he branched out all over town, painting murals and creating sculptures in banks and schools all over town.  And he also created two of this town’s most famous unknown pieces of public art.

In 1976 Schoenberger created “Wenebojo” for the plaza of what is now the First American Center.  This towering copper sculpture is no longer there, but it can still easily be seen.  It was moved (I don’t know when or why) to NorthCentral Technical College, where it sits in their inner courtyard.  Unfortunately, there is no marker or plaque on the sculpture, so it is likely that most, if not all of the students at the Tech have no idea who made the piece or where it came from.  I hope to be able to answer some of those questions and post the answers here.

Schoenberger’s next creation of public art, in 1979 for the City of Wausau is also no longer in place.  Rumor has it that the pieces of the sculpture are still in storage in a large garage somewhere, but it has been years since it was removed.  “The Pinery” featured a number of  utilitiy poles  at odd angles at Stewart  Park on the banks of the river.  Apparently it was quite controversial at the time, which is a good thing in art, but is now mostly forgotten, which is a bad thing.

For all the large works of public art that Schoenberger worked on in this area, his most lasting legacy is actually a chimera,  a seemingly insubstantial work that arises suddenly and just as suddenly is gone for another year.

Ed Schoenberger conceived of and helped organize the first Wausau Festival of Arts.

Wanting to bring together the artists of the community like he had seen in larger cities, Schoenberger brought together the first Festival of the Arts on the grounds of the Yawkey house in 1965.  In many ways, his vision continues to shape the festival to this day.

That first festival not only featured artists displaying and selling their work, but also entertainment, children’s art actvities and food sales for charities.  It may have been small (42 artists who sold $600 in art, according to Schoenberger’s notes) but the elements were all in place.  By the 5th annual show in 1969, the Festival had grown to the proportions it continues to enjoy today with 120 artists displaying their work and 10,000 people attending.

So, when you come downtown in a few weeks, remember to thank Ed for awakening the artistic soul of our town.


Artists’ Awards Banquet August 20, 2008

Filed under: Information for Artists — wausaufestivalofarts @ 7:20 pm
Tags: , , ,

A cherished tradition of the Festival of Arts in the Artists’ Awards Banquet, attended by the artists, their guests and the festival board and committees. In addition to great food, cash awards are presented to artists.

The professional judge for 2008 is Jane Weik.

The awards are as follows:

1. Best of Show – the Ed Schoenberger award – $1,600

2. Nine cash merit awards – $550 each

3. Five cash merit awards for honorable mention  – $125

4. Award for best work donated to the Silent Auction for Scholarships – $75

5. Award for best work donated to the Young Collectors’ Mart – $75  

6. Two student awards: $300 for first place and $200 for second place.


Festival of Arts Past Presidents

1965 Ed Schoenberger

1966 Robert Moulton & Ed Schoenberger

1967 Robert Melang

1968 John Madigan

1969 Dick Seagren

1970 Bill Moy

1971 John Forester

1972 Linne Forester

1973 Peg MacCarthy

1974 Peg MacCarthy

1975 Mary Clare Freeman

1976 Bonnie O’Connor

1977 Linda Ware

1978 Brenda Herman

1979 Peg Mallery

1980 Mary Roberts

1981 Tom Lattimer

1982 Judy Prange

1983 Bill Tolly

1984 Leslie Forester

1985 Sandy Lindell

1986 Lynn Drecktrah

1987 Judy Beier

1988 Chris Bremer

1989 Jean Tehan

1990 Ginger Alden

1991 Patrick Bradley

1992 Mary Jo Freemen

1993 Kathleen Grant

1994 Karla Kurtz

1995 Linda Grilley

1996 Patrick & Lynne Lattimer

1997 Patrck & Lynne Lattimer

1998 Melanie Lenard

1999 Sarah Hull

2000 Sarah Hull

2001 Todd Nicklaus

2002 Todd Nicklaus

2003 Teresa Stieber

2004 Teresa Stieber

2005 Dean Koepke

2006 Bill Greenwood

2007 Lisa Stahl

2008 Lisa Stahl


Ed Schoenberger, Founder of Wausau Festival of Arts April 11, 2008

Filed under: History — Lisa Downing Coady @ 10:19 pm
Tags: , ,

Another Wausau treasure passes


Ed Schoenberger, the man who dreamed of and started the Wausau Festival of Arts, the largest festival of it’s kind in Central Wisconsin, died on Sunday. He was 92.

As we prepare for the Festival’s 44th year, the impact of what Mr. Schoenberger accomplished is hard to miss as his vision and hard work helped raise the awareness of the arts in our community. Today, Artrageous Weekend is a premier event, drawing tens of thousand to the city for the Festival, the opening weekend of Birds in Art and Art in the Park.

Mr. Schoenberger’s legecy is tremendously important to Wausau. Over the years, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised by the Festival and given to young people pursuing art education and matching grants for non-profit agencies to purchase artworks for display.

Thank you, Mr. Schoenberger.

From the Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home website:

Edward “Eddie” Theodore Schoenberger 92, went home October 28, 2007.

Ed was born June 14, 1915 in New Orleans, Louisiana son of the late John and Irene (Blust) Schoenberger. Ed lived and breathed art and joyfully shared his gifts with the world. He studied art at the Arts and Crafts Club in New Orleans, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts in Pennsylvania and at the famed Art Students League in New York. As a young man and musician as well, he formed his own band, Eddie Schoenberger and His Whispering Rhythm in which he played saxophone. In later years, his instrument of choice was the flute, which he played in the La Puma Opera Company in New York and also the Civic Chorus and Orchestra in Wausau.

Ed was a W.P.A. artist during the Depression, creating public art works, most notably a mural at the New Orleans Public Library on the history of printing. It was the longest mural on a single canvas in the nation. He was twenty-six years old at the time. His work was also included in a W.P.A. produced book about New Orleans titled Gumbo Ya-Ya. Ed served his country in the United States Air Force during World War II where he created many murals at Kelly Field, Texas and other locations depicting military life. His cartoons were published in the military paper and he devised a training method for pilots to identify friendly and enemy battleships using scale models.

While living in New York, Ed met the love of his life, Sylvia Carpenter and they were married on February 10, 1952. In 1957 Ed and Sylvia moved to Wausau where Ed became the assistant director and later the director of the Marathon County Historical Museum until his retirement in 1980.

Ed took Wausau by storm, infusing his infectious love of art, life and humor into the community. His contributions to the arts in Wausau are too numerous to list, but certainly his crowning achievement was the Festival of Arts, which he founded in 1965. Eddie was never elitist about art and believed anyone could create art if they wanted to. This was especially true of children, whose expression and truth is pure. As an artist in residence in the public schools he relished encouraging youngsters to use their creative energy to make art. As Eddie once wrote “Art is the creative use of the human imagination to interpret, understand and enjoy life.” Enjoy life, he did, and we are grateful to have enjoyed him.

He will be greatly missed by his beloved wife and helpmate, Sylvia, Wausau; son, Konrad (Mary) Schoenberger, Ashland; daughter, Kim Schoenberger, Wausau; special friend, Jeannette Eauslin; sisters, Helena, Abita Springs, L.A. and Venus, McComb, Mississippi; nephews, nieces and many adoring friends.Besides his parents he was preceded in death by a sister, Irene and brother, Leonard.

Memorial services will be 5 p.m. Friday, November 2, 2007 at Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, 1302 6th Street, Wausau. Services will be conducted by Ed’s family. Friends may call Friday from 3 p.m. until the time of services all at the funeral home.A special thank you to the wonderful caregivers at North Central Health Care C-Unit and Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services for the loving care given to Ed.

In lieu of flowers, a scholarship in the visual arts is planned in his honor. Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, Wausau is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at http://www.peterson.kraemer.com