Artistic Anniversary

UW-Stout’s Art & Design School celebrates 50 years

Mike Seitz

DRAWN TO ART. Stout’s School of Art and Design is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a two-day event.
DRAWN TO ART. Stout’s School of Art and Design is celebrating its 50th anniversary
with a two-day event.

In 1964 William J. Micheels – president of what was called Stout State University at the time – and John Furlong proposed the idea of an art and design program at the institution. A year later, their dream would become a reality and the university gave birth to its first art and design degree; something that would continue to grow and develop for years to follow. Now after five decades, UW-Stout is celebrating its art program with the School of Art and Design 50 Year Anniversary.  Taking place Oct. 16-17, the celebration will involve several events, including a silent auction to benefit the School of Art and Design, and is expected to bring in hundreds of alumni from all over the county.

Being such a significant event, the volume of returning staff and alumni is expected to be very large and will include people from a wide variety of fields. Richard Hutter is one alumnus who will be present at the celebration. Hutter, who now lives in Seattle, makes his living off of his paintings and has donated two paintings to the silent auction. Carolyn Porter, an award-winning graphic designer from St. Paul, will also be in attendance. And Susan Hunt, the woman who started the graphic design program at UW-Stout, will also be at the celebration. “There are probably half a dozen retired faculty who will be coming,” said Tamara Brantmeier, School of Art and Design director. “That, I think, will be a real highlight to some of the graduates from the ’70s and ’80s who will see some of their old professors.”

This is going to be an excellent opportunity for current students and organizations who will be taking care of events during the day. This will give them a chance to showcase themselves while welcoming back the returning alumni. From 1-5pm, students and organizations will have a number of different exhibitions, including workshops and demonstrations, and some will be having sales of their artwork. “I’m very excited to meet past alumni,” said Alex Keulen, president of the student chapter of AIGA, an association for designers, “and talk to them about what has stayed the same and what has changed since then. I want to see their reactions to all of the interactive programs Stout now has and to hear their opinions on current student work.”

Friday evening, which will include a reception at the Furlong Gallery, is sure to be a good time. Following the reception, those celebrating the 50th anniversary will, in Brantmeier’s words, “take over downtown.” Friday night will provide some informal, fun alumni events, where they can enjoy local establishments while catching up with friends and facility. On Saturday, there will be a reception which will include the silent auction. Feel free to join and possibly take home an item from the auction (final bids are due by 7pm).

While this is a celebration of the last 50 years, another aspect of the celebration is visualizing what the next 50 years will hold. The art and design programs continue to grow and develop, and for the past 18 months the School of Art and Design has been envisioning the future. “I think the way our programs in Art and Design at UW-Stout are going to stay as vital as they are is to increase our ability to deliver interdisciplinary learning opportunities to our students across campus,” Brantmeier said.  She explained that engineers and designers need to develop the ability to communicate with one another. Giving students that opportunity, such as through a project in which designers are working with computer programmers, before they leave college is what the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at UW-Stout hopes to give its students.  “We do a good job of giving students hands-on skills, and now we hope to create more dynamic, real-world interdisciplinary skills and experience,” Brantmeier concluded.

For more information on the School of Art and Design’s 50th anniversary celebration, visit