Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
2017 Grace Kolakowski
Grace Remitz-Kolakowski was raised on a dairy farm where she learned to milk cows, and to drive horses and tractors. Here is where she developed a love for nature and the land.
After earning a Bachelors Degree at Stritch University and a Masters Degree in Administration of Education at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she was a teacher and administrator for parochial schools for 21 years and later taught for 21 years in the Whitnall School District before retiring in Kenosha. During this time she traveled extensively to Europe, the Orient, Canada and Africa which assisted her in developing creative teaching units. She also worked during the summers as a Camp Counselor at Camp Alverno, N.C. in addition to teaching remedial reading at the Stritch Reading Clinic.
An avid gardener, she and her late husband, Lenny cleaned up and restored the landscape around the Historical Lighthouse and helped to establish it as a Federal Landmark. She also developed the landscape around the St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church. She passionately grows flower beds around her home; stating, “You can take a girl from the farm, but not the farm from the girl.” Her gardens have been featured in two Garden Tours by the Four Seasons Garden Club.
Retirement took on a new meaning as she dedicated 10 years to being a docent at the Kenosha County Historical Society and Museum, cataloging an extensive collection of vintage clothing. At Kemper Center, she wrote the script of Kemper Center history for use by the docents there. She organized and facilitated a Bible Study for St. Casimir’s Church for 15 years and also engaged in prison ministry at the Kenosha County Detention Center for 12 years. Her passion for working with children continues as she mentors at the Harvey Elementary School.
In 1917, Grace created a $100,000 Endowment Fund to build a Performing Arts Center in Kenosha so residents would not need to travel to Milwaukee or Chicago to enjoy culture and entertainment.
The Anderson Arts Center is glad to honor Grace for all she continues to do for our community and as a patron of the arts.
2016 Bernice Serpe
For 35 years, Bernice has been a loyal supporter and volunteer at Kemper Center and Anderson Arts
Center. Beginning with renting a studio on the Kemper grounds in the 80s while studying art at UW-Parkside and continuing by introducing her fellow UW-Parkside artists to the co-op gallery--Upstairs, Downstairs on the Kemper grounds, giving them the opportunity to meet professional artists and exhibit. Bernice was an involved volunteer helping to drive the success of the exhibitions.
In 1992 a new opportunity arose for Kenosha artists. The historic Anderson home was bequeathed to Kemper Center. During that time, Virginia Tatman and Bernice formed the Area Artists group created with some of the 330 Art Group of artist friends and Racine artists. Since that time, they have organized exhibits in the upper floor of the center, which are scheduled at the same time as the featured shows. As a member of the Area Artists group, Bernice has participated by planning shows, hanging exhibits, sprucing up the rooms, and keeping Area Artists members informed. .
Through efforts of talented artists, dedicated staff and many volunteers, Anderson has become the premier venue to view art in southeast Wisconsin. She credits the years at Kemper and Anderson with strengthening her creative life through the influence of respected artists such as Virginia Tatman, Ruth Miles, Lois Mogenson, June Pomatto, Carolyn Gagliardi, Bernice Rosen and Betty Kidera.
2015 John Z. Burhani
John was born in Kenosha to Dr. Walid Burhani and Dr. Dorothy Conzelman. His childhood home abuts the Anderson Arts Center and he spent many hours as a child playing along the lakeshore and on these very grounds.
He was mentored by his talented watercolor artist grandmother, Dorothy Conzelman who recognized his natural artistic talents as well as local artists Jim Pollard. John developed a painting style that used multiple layers of paint to create depth.
John graduated from St. Joseph High School and went on to earn two degrees from UW-Parkside in Fine Arts and Business. He married his talents with his passion for sailing, windsurfing and kite surfing. He won numerous races and was happy to teach sailing to others through the Kenosha Community Sailing Center. His true love was painting the waters, waves and skies over Lake Michigan. The vast body of his works centered around sailing. He taught and mentored many artists along the way.
He achieved one of his dreams to own the Kenosha North Pier Head Lighthouse and use it as an art studio. The same year, he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma and passed away in May of 2015. He was and is a testimony to the fact that cancer can impact many pieces of a person’s life but it can never take away what one loves and cherishes most.
2014 Eileen Hoganson
Eileen describes herself first and foremost as a helper and a supporter. For over twenty years she has devoted countless hours to taking care of the many details that are part of operating the Anderson Arts Center. The desire to see the arts flourish in Kenosha has been her motivation to contribute in any way she can to the Kenosha arts community.
Eileen became curious about the Anderson Art’s Center in the early 1990s. Cleaning, organizing exhibits, coordinating volunteers, writing informational brochures, and soliciting support in the community, were just some of the many things that Eileen worked on as part of the first group of volunteer “Angels.”
Music was Eileen’s early creative outlet. Over the years she has played piano and organ at numerous local events and church services and many Anderson Arts Center Opening Receptions.
Eileen’s interest in music and education led her to pursue a Bachelors degree in Education with a minor in music at the University of Missouri - Columbia. Eileen taught music in the Kenosha Unified School District (Jeffery & Grant Elementary Schools) for 22 years.
Education, music, and the arts have been Eileen’s activities of choice in her retirement years.
She has served as a volunteer instructor/operator at the Bradford High School planetarium, member of the Reuther High School citizen’s board, board member of the Kenosha Public Museum, member of the Kenosha Symphony League, and a board member of the Kenosha Symphony Association. Eileen served on the Anderson Arts Council for over 20 years. She enjoyed working on the creation of the Student Art Gallery.
Eileen most humbly accepts this award and wants to acknowledge and thank all of those who have worked along side her. She is so proud of what the Anderson Arts Center has become and the community that has supported this unique institution.
2013 June Pomatto
“June Pomatto leads by example as a creative force in my life and I’m sure, in many others. She deserves this award because she has devoted her life and career to art and artists in her community.” Jill Friend, artists and former student.
June has been active on the arts scene in Kenosha County and the surrounding area her entire life. She has exhibited work in a variety of media including: Jewelry, painting, drawing, stained glass, metal, paper, mixed media, and assemblages made from fabrics, glass, shells, or other found objects. She has exhibited work in the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the vast majority of the Racine and Kenosha galleries where she has won numerous awards.
Earning a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts and an MSA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she majored in Painting and Art Metal. Also attended Chicago School of Art Institute for added learning.
June taught in both public and private schools for over 20 years. (Tremper, Zion-Benton High School, Our Lade of Humility Elementary School, Lakeshore Catholic Academy, Kenosha Montessori School and Armitage Academy) In addition, she was an artists in residence for Southport Elementary School and taught a stained glass class as part of the program.
She taught jewelry at the Kenosha Public Museum, outdoor sketching at Anderson Arts Center and directed a program of classes for Kemper Center that included all the arts, music, acting, visual arts and writing. She taught art and music to pre-school aged children at First United Methodist Church daycare and brought art to Nursing Homes at Sheridan Road Nursing Home. She also gave private lessons to aspiring artists in her own studio.
2012 Lois Mogensen
Lois Mogensen has had a lifelong love of art. Her art education began with an evening painting class at the Kenosha Public Museum with instructor John Goray who she calls an awesome teacher!
When her youngest child started kindergarten, she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Parkside, where she particularly enjoyed printmaking. In 1972, she applied for and was accepted into the graduate school program at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. For her second and third years of graduate school, she received two Advanced Opportunity Fellowships, one for each year. This money helped her equip her basement studio with a Dickerson press and the needed equipment for printmaking. She graduated from U.W. Milwaukee with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking. In 1985 I taught basic drawing for the spring and fall semester at U.W Parkside as an adjunct professor. I also taught non-credit drawing classes at both Parkside and the Kenosha Public Museum.
During the late 1970’s I became involved with the Upstairs Downstairs Gallery, which later became Gallery 124--an old house on the grounds of Kemper Center. There she produced a series of prints from copper plates she designed that have been called, “haunting”. These were accepted in numerous juried shows around the country.
One of the high lights of her art career was a four-person show titled “Together Again” at Gallery 124. The show featured the work of June Pomatto, Bernice Serpe, Sam Christy, and Lois.
Lois’ favorite art fair is Lakefront Festival of Arts on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum. It is a juried fair and she was chosen to participate twenty different years.
For the past several years she has met with a group of artists and art lovers who meet to discuss and critique each others works.
2011 Paula Touhey
The creative arts have always been the focus of Paula Touhey’s interests, activities and career. Coming from Columbus Wisconsin, Paula graduated from UW-Oshkosh and returned to her home town as an art educator.
Paula and her husband Peter moved to Kenosha in 1974. Paula became Curator of Education at the Kenosha Public Museum where she developed art and school programs. In 1984 Paula was appointed Director.
Paula was instrumental in the development of a new Kenosha Public Museum building in 2001. The original building was transformed to the Dinosaur Discovery Museum in 2006 and the Civil War Museum opening in 2008. The Kenosha Public Museums system was developed and became a Smithsonian Affiliate.
Paula retired from the city Museums after 37 years, but continues to serve on several community boards. Paula and her husband Peter have two children Patrick and Pamela.
2010 Judy Rossow
Judy accepted her award on May 22, 2011 at the Anderson Arts Center. Surrounded by friends, family and colleagues, she graciously spoke and passed out “thank you” cards. Born in Minnesota and attended University of Minnesota, she met her husband, Gordon and eventually moved to Racine, Wisconsin to work at the J.I. Case Company. She later began a secretarial service in 1968. Interested in the quick printing business, she moved to Kenosha and opened the Copy Center in 1973. Their son, Mitchell is a talented artist, and their daughter, Sharon now manages the Copy Center.
Judy was very involved in the Harborside Business District and now the Business Improvement District, BID. After the Rhode family gave the Rhode Theatre to BID, Judy fell in love with the 1927 building, and supported efforts to stabilize it. After meeting George and Nan Pollard, she led the way to the Pollard Gallery in the renamed “Rhode Center for the Arts”. She was crucial to the opening and now operation of the Pollard Gallery along with the preservation and restoration to the entire facility. The Gallery not only showcases the Pollard’s work, but also many of Kenosha’s talented artists. She supported the arts through her business and involvement in organizations such as the Rotary Club.
Judy was also involved as the Director of Meals on Wheels program. Judy also served as County Board Supervisor from 2004-2008 and is currently serving on the Kenosha Foundation Arts Fund Committee that is developing a Harbor Park Neighborhood Sculpture Walk exhibit. Judy is very involved in community events and especially those that support the arts.
2009 Jack Fleischer
Jack Fleischer has journeyed through numerous stylistic phases in over 40 years as an artist and educator, with countless commissioned works and inclusions in a Smithsonian exhibition. He graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a Bachelor's degree in Art Education. He went on to establish and lead a new art department for Central High School in Paddock Lake. He has participated and judged many local shows, teaches adult classes at Central High School and at the Kenosha Public Museum. Most recognized for his aviation paintings that were featured in a solo exhibition at the Experimental Aviation Association and at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in 1983, he was listed in "Who's Who in American Art" in 1996. Retired now, he plans to continue painting and serve as a volunteer for area museums.
2008 Gary Groenke
Gary Groenke has been involved in the arts for almost his entire life. At his high school in 1970, he was named "Most Outstanding Student in the Arts." He was chairperson of the Greater Kenosha Arts Council for ten years, served as first Chairperson for Anderson Arts Council. He has also served on the Board of the Kenosha Symphony, Racine's Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and President of the Racine Advertising Club. He is currently serving on the Board of Hawthorn Hollow/Hyslop Foundation Board and President of the Kemper Foundation Board. For the last 24 years, Groenke has been President of Design Partners, Inc., a full service design firm in Racine, WI. He and his firm have offered free help with the visual communications/marketing needs of numerous arts and non-profit organizations in the Kenosha/Racine area including: St. Joseph's High School, the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra, the Greater Kenosha Arts Council, Kemper Center, the Anderson Arts Center, the Racine Zoo, the Racine Historical Museum, Downtown Racine Corporation, Racine Youth Sports and many more. For more information about Gary Groenke and his dedication and work in the arts, biographies are printed and can be picked up at Anderson Arts Center.
2007 Ralph Houghton
Ralph Houghton may be best known for his development of the K-12 Instrumental and Choral programs in Kenosha Unified Schools, combined with supportive parent Booster programs which continue to operate. His successes are envied by educators throughout the country. As his nomination papers state, “Ralph’s vision, influence and vitality have inspired many to do their best… in fact, to go beyond what they thought was their best… by always raising the bar.”
2006 Peggy Bozon
Peggy Bozon began her love affair with drawing prior to Kindergarten and it is still in full bloom. Since that time, she has spent most of her life either creating or teaching two and three-dimensional art. Her work is always on display or entered in juried shows. She often mentors disadvantaged children. Peggy served as President of the Kenosha Art Association and was granted lifetime membership for outstanding service. She was a very active member in the Greater Kenosha Arts Council which offered fine arts scholarships. Peggy had an innovative idea of taking art to the community by hanging the work of aspiring artists in local professional businesses and restaurants in Kenosha and surrounding communities. This program entitled, “Artreach” began 45 years ago is still working successfully. She won her first national award for a drawing when she was 12. She has since received many awards including the Western Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs for community service. This remarkable woman and her spirit of community service through the arts is a Kenosha treasure.
2005 Carol Mongreig
Carol Mongreig has been sharing her spontaneous creative energy ever since she was a little girl. Born in Milwaukee, she spent her youth with paper and pencil in hand, sketching the day’s events. Later, she volunteered extensively teaching art as a form of occupational therapy to patients at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and painting to the children at the Milwaukee County Orphanage. Her love of art and her devotion to volunteerism led her to a degree in Art and Art Education with a minor in Sociology from Milwaukee State Teachers College. After graduating, she began her career as an elementary school art teacher and also became a dedicated wife and mother. Carol has spent the last 12 years tirelessly devoting herself to Kemper Center and the Anderson Arts Center. She has created, most notably, the Student Art Gallery, where children from private and public schools in the county are given the opportunity to have their artwork exhibited in a professional setting. The countless hours she has given to the Anderson Arts Center and to the betterment of Kenosha has helped this city to realize its potential as a leading center of art and culture in Southeast Wisconsin. She still volunteers at the Anderson Arts Center and is a valuable member of the Anderson Arts Center Council.
2004 George Pollard
George Pollard is very well known and one of Kenosha’s greatest contributor’s to art. George attended the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee for 2 years and then the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for 2 years. He then went to Chicago to study under Frederick Mizen, then the dean of American portrait artists and illustrators. When World War II began, George left the Mizen Academy to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served 39 months in the South Pacific as a combat artist and as a platoon sergeant. He was ordered to do a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt who was touring the South Pacific for the Red Cross. He was then sent to Brisbane, Australia to paint the great General Douglas MacArthur, and so began his portrait career. He moved to Kenosha in 1947 after he married Nan, also an artist. The Samuel Lowe Publishing Company hired the Pollards to work on celebrity doll books. He later moved on to Presidential portraits for Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy and Reagan; as well as, Supreme Court Justices, Senators, Congressman, Generals and Governors. Pollard has been a staff artist for the Milwaukee Bucks for 25 years and has painted hundreds of outstanding athletes and entertainment personalities such as Ray Charles and Muhammad Ali. A highlight of his career included painting the portrait of Pope John Paul II. He has also contributed to Anderson Arts Center by painting all the portraits of the Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. They can be seen along the staircase at the Anderson Arts Center.
2003 Florence Parry Heide
As a nationally known author of dozens of children’s books, Florence Parry Heide has stimulated the imaginations of children and adults all around the country. Her books range from juvenile mysteries to a child’s view of daily life in the Middle East. Her books have won numerous national and regional awards and a number are on the American Library Association’s notable books list. One of her books, “The Shrinking Treehorn” was named one of the 100 Best Children’s Books of the 20th Century. A film based on her book, “Sound of Sunshine, Sound of Rain” was nominated for an Academy Award. The trustees of Carthage College recognized Mrs. Heide’s accomplishments when they awarded her an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 1979.
2002 Virginia Tatman
Virginia Tatman is the first recipient of the Anderson Arts Center Lifetime Achievement Award. From the time Virginia could hold a pencil, she was constantly drawing. Her favorite classes during early school years were drawing classes. Eventually, she earned Bachelor and Master of Arts Degrees in Art Instruction. Virginia was fortunate to have art positions in the same location as her husband. She took time off during the growing years of her family of four children.
Returning to art instruction, she became the Curator of Education at the Kenosha Public Museum. She later taught arts and crafts to severly disabled adults on a one-to-once basis for the State of Wisconsin.
Because of kidney failure, Virginia received weekly dialysis treatments. Being homebound, she was resolved to pursue the love of her life - producing unique works of art.