Exhibit message: Don’t forget the farms
"Prairie and Stable" by Jack Shuler of Lake Bluff.
‘The Farm: Images from the Heartland’
Lake County Discovery Museum, Lakewood Forest Preserve, Route 176, west of Fairfield Road, near Wauconda
10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; and 1-4:30 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 14
$6; $3 for seniors; $2.50 for children ages 4-17; free for children 3 and younger
www.lchff.org; (847) 968-3400
Updated: August 31, 2012 5:28PM
Working the land for a living has a long and honorable history, but today, the American family farm is a dying institution.
“When we moved out here, it was all farms,” says Chris Geiselhart, who has lived in an unicorporated area of Libertyville for some 40 years. “But they’re rapidly disappearing.”
To preserve what they can of the people, the lives, times and farms that shaped today’s Midwest, Geiselhart and her colleagues of the Lake County Heritage Farm Foundation have mounted an effort to collect the memories and memorabilia of farm life, particularly focusing on the farms of Lake County.
The foundation’s website, lchff.org, encourages anyone with connections to local farm life to get in touch. The ultimate goal is to create a working farm, “a place where people can come to experience farm life,” says Geiselhart. But for now, there’s no money, and that dream remains “in the clouds.”
Meanwhile, to help keep the farm spirit alive, the foundation sponsors a juried, biennial art competition. The Lake County Discovery Museum hosts an exhibit of the 2012 competition winners through Nov. 4.
“The quality (of art entries) was just top notch,” said Geiselhart, the show’s curator.
More than 75 artists entered, and “it was very hard for our jurors to make their decisions” about which would be in the museum show, and which would receive prizes.
The only requirement for competition entries was that the works reflect some aspect of farm life, and that the artists live in the Midwest.
Among the paintings at the museum will be “Prairie and Stable,” an oil painting by Jack Schuler of Lake Bluff.
It depicts one of Schuler’s favorite vistas — the view up a path on his Lake Bluff farm, across a prairie he’s restored, to the stable that serves as a retirement home for his wife’s horses.
Actually, just about anywhere on his farm is a favorite place for Schuler. With the changing colors and moods of seasons and weather, it offers an endless variety of scenes to be captured in paint.
“I just carry my easel out there and paint, and I feel a sense of peace,” he says.
Schuler spent his working life as a businessman, with nary a canvas in sight, so he won’t claim the title of “artist.” “I’m just an old guy who first picked up a paintbrush when I was 65,” he explains.
At 71, he has no intention of putting that brush down. “It’s been invigorating to learn a new skill,” he says.
Schuler’s preferred medium is oil paints — he appreciates their forgiving nature. “They don’t dry out very quickly, so you can keep messing around with the painting,” he says.
And he likes the way they mix, and allow him to concoct the exact shade he needs. Here, his early engineering background comes into play. Schuler understands how light waves work, and thus, how to deal with distance and perspective with color. He knows the physics of why a far hillside you know to be green with trees appears to be purple or gray.
Yet it’s not what an artist — or a guy who paints — knows that matters, he notes. “You just let your eye tell you what it sees.”