This painting is a slightly revised version of the painting that hangs above my bed. The original painting was done by a semi-famous Wisconsin artist, Hans John Stoltenberg around 1960. Stoltenberg grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (my home town) and studied painting in Germany. He loved to paint Wisconsin farm scenes especially in winter. I have enjoyed his freedom of style, his back lighting and his use of simple farm buildings. My version/copy changed his original stone and mortar cattle barn into an imaginary Irish cottage type building.
Although, I did not grow up on a farm, I have extensive knowledge about upper-midwestern rural buildings. I help find, research, move and restore about 75, 19th Century farm buildings for various museums around Wisconsin. As a private historic restoration consultant, I was often called out to help someone evaluate their big Wisconsin barns and out buildings. Some folks have called me “The Barn Doctor” which seemed a bit of a stretch. I estimate that of the barns still standing in Wisconsin, one-third are still in use, one-third are empty, and one-third are falling over. In a 50 mile stretch of Interstate 43, I counted a total of 145 barns, all falling into the above categories. We have the great Wisconsin dairy barns on our automobile license plates as our state symbol “The Dairy State” but who cares about saving these grand old buildings? More to come…..