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A Monona artist is honored with a week-long festival.

The Harry Whitehorse International Wood Sculpture Festival is coming to San Damiano.

A vintage portrait of Monona-based artist Harry Whitehorse.jpg

Harry Whitehorse was a renowned Monona artist for decades. | Photo via Harry Whitehorse International Wood Sculpture Festival

The inaugural Harry Whitehorse International Wood Sculpture Festival is nearly here.

The first invitational international festival dedicated to an Indigenous person, it will celebrate artist Harry Whitehorse (1927-2017), a Ho-Chunk Tribal Member who lived in Monona most of his life.

  • When: Friday, June 14-Saturday, June 22
  • Where: San Damiano Monona, 4123 Monona Dr., Monona
  • What: Artists from all over the world will create sculptures and showcase their works to the public. Attendees can enjoy live wood sculpting demonstrations, cultural performances, Ho-Chunk art exhibits, food, and more.
Harry Whitehorse's Badger statue

Harry Whitehorse’s Badger sculpture on Monroe Street. | Photo by 608today

Who was Harry Whitehorse?

Born in a wigwam in Black River Falls, Whitehorse’s interest in art began at an early age when he apprenticed for his uncle, an accomplished silversmith and carver.

Whitehorse explored a range of skills and trades. He studied oil painting at UW-Madison, and then went to a local technical college to learn welding and metal fabrication. The owner and operator of Chief Auto Body in Monona for 40 years, Whitehorse made some cool rides in the process.

Whitehorse continued creating art in a variety of mediums until his death at the age of 90.

A wood horse sculpture created by Harry Whitehorse.jpg

Harry Whitehorse worked in a variety of mediums but is mostly known for his woodwork. | Photo via Harry Whitehorse International Wood Sculpture Festival

Festival highlights

Friday, June 14 | 5 p.m.
Opening ceremonies will begin with the Ho-Chunk Color Guardhonoring Whitehorse’s WWII service followed by traditional Ho-Chunk singing and dancing.

Saturday, June 15-Sunday, June 16 | 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Artists Wakąjaga (Ho-Chunk), Chris Sweet (Ho-Chunk/White Earth Ojibwe), and Erica Dietz (Seminole/Ho-Chunk/Ojibwe) will be creating art on-site.

Monday, June 17 | 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Melanie Tallmadge Sainz (Ho-Chunk) and Kristin Klingman (LDF Ojibway) will create art with cattail, basswood, and bulrush. Additionally, they will bead and create porcupine quill art.

Tuesday, June 18 | 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
The Cash Box Kings, a Chicago-based blues band, will perform lakeside from 6-8 p.m. as part of the 2024 Summer Biergartens at San Damiano season.

Wednesday, June 19 | 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Artistry demonstrated will include fingerweaving, bead art, and applique.

Thursday, June 20 | 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Contemporary paintings by local artists will be showcased.

Friday, June 21 | 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Black ash basket making will be a highlight during Make Music Monona, the area-wide day of music.

Saturday, June 22 | 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sculptors will be available to discuss their pieces with visitors during the closing ceremony.

More details can be found on the full festival schedule.

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