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Barton, John Rector, 1897- / Rural artists of Wisconsin

Millie Rose Lalk: Route 2, Fort Atkinson. Strange harvest,   pp. 93-97

Page 97

and the other operating an auto livery. In 1917 the
young couple decided to farm and moved to eighty
acres near Chippewa Falls. There the first of three boys
was born in 1918. The young farmer's wife was much
too busy to spend any more time at the easel. A year
later the farm was sold, and they moved three times in
rapid succession. Finally, in 1926 they bought a hun-
dred-acre farm on the Janesville road. It lies among
rolling hills dotted with tree clumps and commands a
view of Lake Koshkonong. It was this farm that sup-
plied subjects for Mrs. Lalk during the 1940's.
  When her two boys had left for the University and
she had moved to a country home near Fort Atkinson,
she was able to transfer her energies to art. In the few
short years that remained to her, she crowded the days
with activity. Months before her death she knew she
had not long to live, but she continued to work with
remarkable productivity. In the autumn of 1942 she
was asked to exhibit her work in a one-artist show at
the Wustum Museum at Racine. In September she had
been recognized by the Milwaukee Journal as Wiscon-
sin's outstanding rural artist. For the third time her
work was shown at the Sculptors and Painters exhibi-
tion in Milwaukee, making her eligible for membership
in that organization. Her entries at the state fair
brought her two first prizes. She was featured in Life,
and an article about her in a Chicago newspaper brought
numerous invitations to talk about her paintings before
organizations in near-by towns. She is credited with
organizing and teaching the first fine arts class in Fort
Atkinson. She was among the first to be selected by
the Rural Art Committee for representation in the
Permanent Collection. Her works were exhibited by
the Madison Art Association, Beloit College, the Mil-
waukee Art Institute, Purdue University, and in 1943
the Chicago Art Institute. Her painting "Our Farm in
Wisconsin with Lake Koshkonong in the Distance" was
requested from the Chicago exhibit by the Illinois State
Museum at Springfield, where it was hanging at the
time of her death. She had continued active and pro-
ductive until the last two and a half weeks of her life.
  What was the secret of those creative years? It was
as if she had borrowed time and was hastening to repay
it with a gift which was to live for her. Or perhaps the
educational philosophers have a word for it: that
dreams and hopes may lie buried in the minds of men
to awaken long after the age when the schools suggest
that we stop learning.

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