An aritist on the farm
Gilseth having fun, helping other local artists
A sculpture garden that’s springing up along Hwy. V in the Town of Hartland is just the latest creative expression of Jary Gilseth.
Gilseth, who lives at W6762 County Road V with wife, Mary, two donkeys, a horse and three cats, is having fun on his farm.
For 35 years, he owned a graphic design company near the Mall of America making presentations for some of the country’s biggest companies. Now, he’s writing books, making shirts, drawing, painting with ketchup bottles, and doing just about anything he feels like doing.
One of his real passions has been his Art on the Farm event. It would have taken place this month for the third consecutive year on his Hartland spread.
His life now is helping artists and following wherever his artistic vibes take him on any given day.
“I just wanted to do something to help artists out. Two years ago, we did an event called Art on the Farm. We had over 4,500 people out here. We had games, a food truck. We had a great response. I lost $1,000 putting it on.”
“We did it the next year, and we had 14 artists. It was just a huge success. We just want to help local artists get visibility to sell their stuff.”
Gilseth works closely with Kayleen Jakes, who owns Brush Strokes in Ellsworth, and he keeps printing equipment at her shop.
“She and I are of the same mind as far as promoting the arts,” he said.
When Gilseth retired, it wasn’t really to slow down, but to rechannel his energy.
“I wanted to retire. We found this farm. I said I want to get back into the fine arts, the painting and the drawings and to do as much as I can to help other artists,” he said.
The milk house at the farm is now a gallery for Gillseth and three other artists.
“I just promote the arts. If I can help them along, that’s fine. I don’t have to make money. I did that already,” he said.
He’s looking for artists to add to his sculpture garden along County Road V at the front of his property.
The gallery is full of his own products, his notecards that bear his drawings (they’re for sale at www.gilsethgraphics. ecswid.com ), books he’s written (the most famous one is on Amazon.com “We Don’t Have Squirrels on the Farm” and a poetry book “Crackers and hay with cream and sugar doesn’t taste that bad”, and his drawings and paintings.
The studio also includes work by Gilseth’s brother, a calligrapher and a person who does garden art. The studio is open by appointment.
His owns works, which include spraying paint from a ketchup bottle in Picasso-style artwork, is done in his studio upstairs in what used to be “a rat-infested grain bin.”
He has a drawing table, and his pictures all have backstories. The Eagles song “Desperado” warns “Don’t draw the Queen of Diamonds boy.”
Gilseth did anyway, he said gesturing to one piece.
“I said the heck with that, I’m drawing the Queen of Diamonds,” he said. He prints all of his books himself, including a book of his mother’s recipes.
There’s none in it.
“That was in memory of my mother. She didn’t cook. It’s a recipe book with no recipes in it,” he said. “Her idea of cooking was putting a box of Oreos in the window and letting them warm up.”
His only rule these days is simple: “I just have fun. If I don’t have fun, I don’t do it,” he said.
While there wasn’t an official Art on the Farm event, there’s plenty of art – and fun – going on at this farm.
“Art on the Farm will be back next year,” Gilseth promised, “bigger and better.”