Noted artist takes us through the yearsArea News
-- On Friday, Feb. 8, the 120 Gallery, 120 North Main St., will host an opening for “An Ammerman Retrospective: The Collected Works of William Ammerman,” from 4-8 p.m.
By: Jillian Dexheimer , Pierce County Herald
On Friday, Feb. 8, the 120 Gallery, 120 North Main St., will host an opening for “An Ammerman Retrospective: The Collected Works of William Ammerman,” from 4-8 p.m.
The show will feature a collection of work from William (Bill) Ammerman, 87, and runs through March 2.
Bill said the show will include about 28 items -- final numbers will be determined after everything is hung. As items sell, Bill will replace them with other paintings from his collection.
Painting since college -- about 65 years -- Bill said that since he retired from the UW-River Falls art department in 1988, he has had more time to paint.
In the last two years Bill said he has not been able to paint as much due health issues.
“I can’t do what I used to do,” he stated.
The showcase at Gallery 120 will feature many of Bill’s watercolor paintings that are anywhere from three to 20 years old.
Many of his paintings feature barns. He said: “I pick things that have a short life -- that are passing.”
He went on to say that he chooses barns with unique characteristics because they are becoming less and less common -- with lack of upkeep and tearing down being a big issue.
Bill’s collection also contains many watercolor paintings of flowers, “They are beautiful things today but gone tomorrow,” he said.
Typically to do a painting Bill does a drawing outside, then comes home to do the painting.
“I don’t like to copy from photographs,” he said.
While some people like to paint outside on site, Bill does not. He said that weather or bugs -- wetness -- can spoil his art.
Bill also does pen-and-ink drawings and some oils, though he said he prefers watercolor.
He attributes that to the immediacy he can get with the watercolor paints, in both drying time and in set-up time. He said with watercolors you can have them set out and work when you want to.
“Oils require more tool manipulation,” Bill said. He also pointed out the odor that oil paints produce.
Many local art enthusiasts may remember the semi-annual art sales that Bill held at his home in River Falls.
His wife since 1954, Sue, mentioned that “…there are many Ammermans hanging on walls around here (River Falls).”
Eventually Bill took the sale down to once a year and then finally stopped altogether. Now Bill sells his paintings by appointment only.
Sue remarked how nice it will be to take over Ila June’s place (120 Gallery) for the show and sale.
Commenting on the many shows at Gallery 120, Sue said, “Ila June (Brown-Pratt) is doing a community service by having a gallery. It’s hard to find a place to show your artwork.”
She added that there are a lot of neat artists in the area.
Bill said that the community has been very welcoming to him over the years. “When I did have shows they (the community) were very supportive and enthusiastic,” he said.
He went on to say that it helps that people bought his art, “It’s most imperative to sell it (art) if you are producing art.”
After teaching in Pennsylvania, where he is from, Bill, Sue, and two of their three boys moved to River Falls in 1958 so Bill could teach at UWRF.
After a quick interview process that saw him receive a job offer after a one-day interview, Bill was heading back to Iowa to pick his boys up from his in-laws, when some school administrators stopped by his hotel room.
They asked Bill to take over a summer-school class that started in an hour.
According to Bill, a grandfather to seven and a great-grandfather to one with another on the way, he “…had no time to be frightened.”
“It happened so fast,’ he furthered.
With Bill working the summer term, the family moved into student housing and had a neighbor sell their home in Pennsylvania.
In his early years at UWRF, Bill taught art as part of the teacher-education program, since art class in school was taught by the main teacher.
As schools started hiring specialized teachers to teach art, Bill taught classes with a different focus.
During his tenure Bill taught 4-year-olds through college-age students -- at the time UWRF professors taught some classes at the campus school which was an elementary and junior high school.
“I taught elementary, junior high and college at the same time,” he said.
He also taught drawing, painting and introduction to art. As the years went by the art department grew and started to increase its specialties -- ceramics, glass and photography, to name a few.
After 30 years at UWRF, Bill retired from the art department, but continues to stay connected to his students.
He mentioned that when former students are in the area they stop by or give him a call -- one particular student sends him cards on his birthday.
The 120 Gallery will feature Bill’s art from Feb. 8 through March 2. Gallery hours are: Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.