Amazing Color Pencil Artist - Monica Jagel in April

"I Love Carrots"

Rainbow Chard

Monica is interested in using her images to create functional art that is both environmentally and socially responsible. 
It is Monica’s belief that a focus on “local” builds resilience and strengthens community and reduces environmental impact. Therefore Monica’s cards  are created and printed with solar power close to home.  The newest offering is functional art in the form of Eco Friendly Kitchen towels that are printed in the Mid-West onto 100% cotton fabric. The re-usable function of flour sack towels was realized during the depression. Today more than ever it makes sense to put away the paper towels and put this absorbent fabric back to work!

Monica has a B. A. in Art Studio and is also a certified Botanical Illustrator. Monica works in her home studio in rural Wisconsin, all of her artwork is original from her own observations and imagination.  She finds inspiration every day all around her! Colored Pencil is her favorite medium and is often combined with watercolor, graphite or Pen & Ink.   

Monica has worked to create a blank note card that is both environmentally and socially responsible.  Should you choose to make a purchase you can feel great knowing that your purchase supports both social awareness and the earth! A portion of the income from sales is donated to charity.

SOLAR PRINTING: Solar energy generated in La Farge, WI  (Jack Hill Photography) powers the scanner and printer that prints Monica’s artwork onto high quality paper. She hand cuts and packages each card herself.
THE ENVELOPES are made in Neenah, WI and are comprised of recycled paper, powered by 100% green electricity.
THE WRAPPER is not plastic, it is called a Bio Bag and it is compostable.

The newest offering is functional art in the form of Eco Friendly kitchen towels!  The images are carefully designed to reflect a healthy lifestyle of gardening and healthful home cooking! Printed in the USA onto 100% cotton, these towels should be washed in cold water, dry on low or better yet… line dry! The re-usable function of flour sack towels was realized during the depression. Today more than ever it makes sense to put away the paper towels and put this absorbent fabric back to work!

Monica and Joanne Adragna Shird met and became friends through a local art group. Joanne’s poetry truly enriches Monica’s illustrations. The collaboration between Monica and Joanne grew naturally from their kindred hearts and souls. 
A RURAL ALPHABET was written and illustrated for kids of ALL ages!

Welcome Back Mike Lind!

VIVA Gallery’s monthly First Thursday artist reception will be held on March 2 and the gallery will be welcoming back artist and farmer Mike Lind. He is equally gifted in both fields of endeavor, and his exhibited works beautifully combine both interests.

In this series, Mike was inspired by the old adage you are what you eat,or as he twists it what you eat is what you are.He has always been interested in the relationship between fruits and vegetables and the human body, and not just from a health standpoint. He also sees the similarities in formhow blood vessels look like the veins of a leaf, or how a head of cauliflower resembles the brain. Nature mimics itself in many different forms, and Mikes works remind us that we are all made of the same basic stuff.The works are done with Derwent “Inktense” watercolor pencils on watercolor board.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Mike attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting in 2000. After graduating, Mike traveled around Europe and found himself working on an organic vegetable farm in the mountains of southern Spain. It was there that he discovered his passion for growing vegetables, sparking a 14-year farm journey from Wales to Costa Rica to Washington State and an eventual return to Wisconsin. Mike now co-owns Driftless Organics, a 50-acre vegetable farm near Soldiers Grove, and raises grass-fed cattle on his own farm where he lives with his wife Dani.

Mikes intricate watercolor drawings, along with the diverse works of VIVA’s 18 member artists, will be featured at VIVA’s First Thursday reception on March 2 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm and will be on display throughout the month. The gallery is located at 217 South Main Street in Viroqua. For more information about this and future First Thursday events, contact the gallery at 608-637-6918 or

Be-Jeweled in February

A VIVA “Valentine’s Day” First Thursday
After a wonderful Holiday Artisan Market (and the artist members thank all of you who shopped artfully and locally), VIVA Gallery is getting set to mark another special day that falls in February. And since Valentine’s Day is often celebrated with rings and bracelets and necklaces, the gallery has invited two jewelers to be featured artists. The work of Jan Mrachek, Nick Smolen and Liza Paizis can be seen at VIVA’s First Thursday opening on February 2, and throughout the month of February.

Jan Mrachek, who hails from Wabasha, Minnesota, is a self-taught artist who, after 20 years of jewelry making, now teaches the art herself. Bead weaving is the medium that Jan most enjoys. She employs a number of stitches including peyote, brick, branched fringe, square stitch, and Oglala butterfly. Some of the pieces she makes incorporate more than one of these stitches to get the desired effect. She also combines bead weaving with a variety of materials including metals, pearls, stone, fiber, shell, ceramic, and glass beads to create unique pieces of jewelry. Her inspiration comes from the world around her, especially the natural world. It also comes from the shape, color, and texture of the beads themselves.

Liza Paizis is also a self-taught artist, born and raised in South Africa and now living in Mc Gregor, Iowa. For the past 26 years, she has exhibited and sold her artwork and jewelry, traveling and living in England, Scotland, South Africa and Australia. Her love for jewelry design began when she was living in Australia, where she started her own pewter jewelry line made from her original wax carvings. Her unique and exclusive jewelry pieces are her most popular creations and feature whimsical animals, nature elements and Art Nouveau inspired motifs.

Nick Smolen will feature his Mokume work.  See photos below, unique and beautiful.

Nick Smolen

Jan Mrachek

Liza Paizis

January Art Inspired Art

The new year is often a time of fresh starts and inspiration, so it’s entirely fitting that inspiration is the theme of this year’s January member show at VIVA Gallery. The varied works in “Art Inspires Art” will be unveiled at the gallery’s First Thursday reception on January 5, and the viewing public will be able to see art inspired by such things as nature, poetry, literature, music, architecture, and cultural diversity.

The artful forms and shapes that occur naturally are often an inspiration to artists, as is the case with print maker Mark Herrling. “A Murder of Crows” was prompted by the patterned limbs of a large oak tree in his valley, only revealed in winter, that are an enticing draw for the gregarious birds. The French and American impressionist painters of the late 18th century and early 19th century serve as constant inspiration for plein air painter Deb Conlon, who braves snowbanks, icicles and bitter winter winds to capture the beautiful effect of light on fallen snow. Photographer Tom Rhorers influence comes from abstract impressionist painter Jackson Pollock, while metal worker Raelene Roberts interprets The Great Wave of Kanagawa,a famous woodblock print by Japanese artist Hokusai, in enamel.

Potter Maureen Karlstad finds the Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way), attributed to the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tse as her source of direction...”We throw clay to shape a pot, but the utility of a pot is a function of the nothingness inside it.” Both Jerry and Liz Quebe have found their inspiration in verse. Jerry chooses “Waiting” by L. W. Lindquist...”I gave up the waiting and something emerged from the silence of wood” while Liz took her cue from Iraira Cedillo’s whimsical poem “A Cow’s Outside.”

The diverse works of VIVA’s 18 member artists will be featured at VIVA’s First Thursday reception on January 5 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm and will be on display throughout the month. The gallery is located at 217 South Main Street in Viroqua. For more information about this and future First Thursday events, contact the gallery at 608-637-6918 or 

5th Annual Artisan Holiday Market at VIVA

VIVA Gallery’s 5th annual Artisan Market will include fourteen guest artists, and will debut at the monthly First Thursday opening on November 3. New work from VIVA’s nineteen member artists will also be on display. The market is a perfect place to find one-of-kind, locally-created gifts for the holidays.

The works of four accomplished potters offer many choices, from the functional mugs, bowls, vases and tea sets by Maureen Karlstad and Darrel Bowman to decorative tiles by Mark Herrling and Charna Schwartz. Charna’s Majolica bowls are a unique and beautiful choice.

It’s said you can’t have too much jewelry, and you will find a stunning variety of styles at the Artisan Market. M’Lou Wilkie is known for her intricate woven beadwork, and Angela Feltes makes use of her hand-crafted colorful glass beads in her jewelry offerings. Peggy Krzyzewski uses natural materialswood, bone, stone and shellin her jewelry, along with her favorite, glass, and is known for her art charms. If metalwork is your favored choice of adornment, then the works of Raelene Roberts and Martha Buche are not to be missed, especially the hammered copper work.

Fiber art is always a favorite for home d├ęcor or distinctive clothing. The intricate designs of talented weavers Kathleen Aaker and Angela Feltes are evident in their hand-woven vests and scarves. Sharlene Bohr’s eco-printed scarves and hand warmers are unusual and beautiful gifts. You may choose a colorful layered potholder from Crystal Curley.

Photographs and prints make very special gifts. Tom Rhorer’s photographs capture the unique beauty of the Driftless region. Diane Dahl’s photography is augmented by her mixed media work in acrylics, clay and bits and pieces from nature. Monica Jagel’s intricate colored pencil drawings are offered in the form of prints, cards, ornaments and books. Mark Herrling’s prints are perfect for wall display.

You will find watercolor, oil and acrylic paintings with a wide-ranging array of subjects. Watercolor artists Anne Tedeschi, Diane Splinter and Bill Mapp create scenes of the area, flora and fauna, and still lifes in distinctive styles. Deb Conlon and Paul Bergquist are known for their beautiful plein air work in oil. Liz Quebe’s oil paintings capture the personalities of some of our favorite farm animals while Pita Daniels uses acrylics in big, bold contemporary paintings showcasing the use of color.

Our woodworkers have an array of items to grace your kitchen and home. Hand-carved wooden spoons by Terry Beck, intricately constructed and beautifully finished cutting and serving boards by Jerry Quebe,

or beautiful bowls and rolling pins by Ken Garden add special touches to food preparation and presentation. Ken and Michelle Workowski’s popular rustic bark mirrors, poplar bark baskets and delicate lamp shades, all made from elements native to our area, are great holiday gifts. Nicholas and Kindred Wazee-Gale make delicate boxes and bowls of birch bark, and Ray Bock’s beautifully aesthetic wooden boxes and sculptural vessels are created from exotic hardwoods.

The forged metal work of Nick Smolen will be available in the form of candlesticks, keyrings and sculptures. And the intricately constructed kaleidoscopes of Steve and Peggy Kittelson would make an unusual and treasure gift for a family member or friend.

VIVA Gallery is also a great place to find holiday cards, stocking stuffers and ornaments.

A Sampling of what you will see at VIVA through November and December


Susan Cushing is October Guest Artist

Susan Cushing is October Guest Artist at VIVA Gallery
        La Farge artist Susan Cushing will be the featured guest artist at VIVA Gallery’s monthly First Thursday reception on October 6. She will be exhibiting a series of paintings inspired by the time she resided in Canada and the remarkable beauty of the frozen landscape.

         Susan returned from Canada to Wisconsin in 1996, and spent time exploring different mediums, including pastels, colored pencil, and a bit of painting. During that period, she exhibited her art at VIVA Gallery until family and business obligations placed more demand on her time. But it was not long until she was abruptly brought back into the art world, by virtue of six weeks of forced inactivity due to a broken leg. She recognized an opportunity, picked up her brushes, and began to paint on a daily basis. The midwinter interlude sparked memories of the glaciers and mountains where she had spent much time on skis.
Her series of paintings captures a world of water, frozen on the ground and in the sky. It is a silent world, extremely cold, yet full of light. Weather changes quickly, and avalanches are a constant danger. For all its challenges, it is a place of spectacular beauty and Susan has shared that magnificence in her paintings. All the works depict scenes in the Canadian Rockies, and the Selkirk, Monashee and Purcell ranges of British Columbia.

Susan’s paintings, along with the works of VIVA’s member artists, will be featured at VIVA’s First Thursday reception on October 6 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. The gallery is located at 217 South Main Street in Viroqua. For more information about this and future First Thursday events, contact the gallery at 608-637-6918 or 

Richard Fayram Watercolors


Indian Lake

Shadows of Winterwood

                                                 Richard Fayram Featured at VIVA Gallery in September

Richard Fayram will be the featured guest artist at VIVA Gallery’s monthly First Thursday reception on September 1. Dick is an accomplished watercolor painter who resides in Cross Plains, Wisconsin.
Dick developed an interest in art while studying to be a landscape architect at Michigan State University. Courses in art and architectural delineation served as the basis for training as an artist and a lifelong interest in creating art. While at the university, his personal art work was primarily in acrylics. After graduation he switched to watercolors as his favorite medium.

Because of his profession as a landscape architect, Dick’s work has naturally emphasized landscapes, buildings, wildflowers and other elements of the rural landscape. In his professional and artistic endeavors, native plants have always been an important focus. A few years ago, Dick decided to concentrate on winter landscapes along the Wisconsin Ice AgeTrail, a resource that is unique to Wisconsin and the Wisconsin landscape. Retirement afforded more time to focus on art in other seasons, and on woodworking as well. The frames for his recent work are hand made from quarter- sawn white oak and other woods.