Bio: Bremer, Elsie
(Artist - 2008)
Contact: R. Lipprandt
Surname: Bremer, Mendenwaldt, Standevem, Strathmann
----Source: The Tribune - Phonograph (Abbotsford, Clark Co., WI), Wednesday, November 21, 2008, page 4, By Kevin O’Brien
Bremer’s old murals recreated at new Abby Library
By Kevin O’Brien
When the Abbotsford Public Library moved across the street to its new location a year ago, a couple of things had to be left behind — temporarily, at least.
Two murals painted by local artist Elsie Bremer were part of the library’s walls since 1984, but it was impossible to physically move them out of the old building, which now houses the Abbotsford-Colby Police Department.
Fans of Bremer’s paintings would not be deterred, though.
Local photographer Dick Standeven of RES Photography took detailed pictures of the murals and, after calling around to about 10 different companies, he found one in Florida that could turn the photos into highly detailed wallpaper.
Dave Strathmann volunteered to put the wallpaper up on the wall at the new library and Bob Morrow donated his time to build a frame for the larger mural using stain left over from the building project.
"Good ole’ Abbotsford, Wis. You ask for something and somebody steps forward to do it," said library director Jane Medenwaldt.
Bremer and her paintings were honored in a small ceremony last Thursday unveiling the replicas of the old murals.
The artist, now 97 and in a wheelchair, was still impressed by her own work.
"Did I do that?" she exclaimed as she looked up at the brightly colored paintings featuring cartoon and fairy tale characters who appear every year in the city’s Christmas parade. "I never had any training in art," Bremer said. "Mostly it was when I was babysitting and I had to draw pictures for the kids all the time."
Medenwaldt said Bremer volunteered to do the paintings after the library lost a lot of its natural light during an energy-saving project in the early 1980s.
"They took all the windows away and suddenly it looked like a dungeon," she said. "So, we thought ‘Can’t we paint something here to brighten it up?’"
Bremer would do all her painting while standing on a 4-by-8 table, Medenwaldt said. "Some days, after she’d been working all day long, she’d step back and say ‘I don’t like that’ and she’d cover it all up and start over the next day," Medenwaldt said. "She probably painted 10 different pictures."
The larger painting prominently features Bremer’s favorite cartoon character, Mickey Mouse, along with a 1984 version of a computer, which doesn’t look anything like today’s models, Medenwaldt said.
"We thought about commissioning an artist to reproduce them, but then it wouldn’t be Elsie’s wall. It would be somebody else’s wall," Medenwaldt said.
In order to get the murals to fit in the new library, Standeven reduced the larger one from 12 feet by 6 feet down to 8 by 5. The smaller one is now 3 feet by 3 feet.
The murals were made to last so future generations can enjoy Bremer’s labor of love for her local library.
"They said its an archival type of ink, so there shouldn’t be any fading," he said. "If we come back in 20 years, it will only be faded 5 percent."
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