A Creative Place

The History of Wisconsin Art

The Book

..”Elevates art to its rightful place in the proud culture of our state.”


High Quality Images

Seven chapters and more than 400 vivid art images tell the story of art in the context of Wisconsin’s rich and complex history.

  • Native Presence: The Beginning of Art in Wisconsin
  • Encounters and Settlement: Art in Wisconsin: 1634-1870
  • The Great Cultural Expansion: 1870-1918
  • Transitioning from European Ideals to
  • America’s Regional Interests: 1918-1945
  • Wisconsin at Mid-Century:
  • The Post War Period: 1945-1965
  • The Coming of Age of Visual Arts: 1965-1980
  • The Last Decades of the 20th Century: 1980-2000

How Did We Get Here?

A vision of Thomas Lidtke, supported by The Cedarburg Art Museum, has been brought to fruition by authors Thomas Lidtke and Annemarie Sawkins with scholarly and creative input from talent across the state. The first attempt in eighty-five years to compile a comprehensive history of art in Wisconsin, A Creative Place is the first history of Wisconsin art from the First Nations through the twentieth century.

Thomas Lidtke

A former art instructor and artist who has worked in the United States and Australia, spent three decades leading museums and chronicling Wisconsin’s rich art history. Lidtke’s crowning achievement was transforming the West Bend Art Museum into the Museum of Wisconsin Art, which opened its new state of the art building in 2013. He has taught graduate courses in Wisconsin art history and his essays have been published internationally. Above all, Lidtke is a gifted storyteller.

Annemarie Sawkins

A Milwaukee-based curator, art historian, and author who has curated exhibitions for numerous museums across the United States. From 1999 to 2012, she was a curator at the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University. Sawkins has a PhD in Art History from McGill University in Montreal. Her research of Wisconsin art covers the post-World War II period through the end of the twentieth century.

“This book is a must have”

– Becky B.

Co-authors Tom Lidtke and Annemarie Sawkins received the Arts Writing Award through Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Awards (WVAAA) in 2024.

Wholesale Opportunities for HOWA

Are you interested in adding a captivating piece to your store or gift shop? We have just the suggestion for you: “The Creative Place: A History of Wisconsin Art.” This exceptional book offers a comprehensive exploration of Wisconsin’s artistic heritage, taking readers on a captivating journey through its vibrant art scene across the ages.