15 Years, 500 Works of Art

retired UW-Stout professor fills gallery with drawings

Natalie Rosenkranz

Charlie Wimmer at UW-Stout’s Furlong Gallery. Image: UW-Stout Photo
Charlie Wimmer at UW-Stout’s Furlong Gallery. Image: UW-Stout Photo

Imagine yourself standing in a room filled with over 300 paintings, prints, and drawings. Now, imagine that just one artist created all of the artwork in that room.  80-year-old Charlie Wimmer is that artist.

Although he retired in 2001, Charlie Wimmer – the Emeritus Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Stout – is light-years away from withdrawing from his passion for colors, lines, and shapes. Since retiring from his position as the Chair of Stout’s Art Department, Wimmer has designed more than 500 prints and paintings, an average of 30+ pieces of artwork per year.

Wimmer does everything from sculpting to painting, and his artwork is full of meaning and emotion. This is especially true of his most recent work: Wimmer’s house burned down last year, and he found himself coping through art. 

“I thought about using the charcoal from the remains of the house to create something, but then I thought that might be too morbid,” he said by phone. “I decided to use bright pastels instead.” 

Not only does Wimmer demonstrate a mastery of color, but he also has a deep understanding of life.  “Every subject is worthy of art,” Wimmer emphasized. He mentioned finding inspiration in France upon visiting a cave built 25,000 years ago, taking inspiration from city life, and getting ideas for projects while taking walks during the first snowfall.

“They can let it snow, snow, snow,” he chuckled. 

Wimmer is also extremely inspired by other artists such as the Italian still life artist Giorgio Morandi. “A lot of Morandi’s work shows bottles in subtle grays and blues,” Wimmer explained.  “I decided to play around with that idea and use bright colors instead.  I call that series Candy Morandi.” 

In addition to teaching classes at Stout for approximately 38 years, Wimmer taught at many other universities including the widely-respected Oxford University. As such, UW-Stout is showing nearly 300 of Wimmer’s creations from the past 15 years of his retirement in the Furlong Gallery.  The exhibit is called 15 Years, 500 Drawings, and it’s an astonishing display of Wimmer’s talent and maturity as an artist. 

The display is open until Saturday, December 15 with a closing reception on Friday, December 16 from 5 to 7pm. The closing reception coincides with Stout’s annual Applied Arts Open House, and refreshments will be served during the event. 

The gallery means a lot to Wimmer.  He noted, “I have a lot of friends in the community here, and there’s been a good response from my friends.  It’s very satisfactory; it cheers me up immensely.” 

Furlong Gallery is located at 712 S. Broadway Street, and it is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.