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WWS History

I have recently gone through the Wisconsin Watercolor Society (WWS) “archives” which are housed in a filing cabinet in the basement of the Charles Allis Art Museum.  The record begins with the original file of the year 1952 and continues each year to the present.  In 1952 the society was organized, designated Marian Bode as secretary, and scheduled its first show.  The 1952 file contains five items:  a letter dated April 18, 1952 from Peter Rotier to Marian Bode accepting the WWS invitation to join the society, 3 letters from Tom Dietrich, and a program from the first WWS show in which the original eight members exhibited their work at Downer College in Fall of 1952.

The original eight members of the WWS are listed as:
Marian Bode                     (1915 – 2005) Founder of WWS
Tom Dietrich                    (1912 – 1998)
Earl Gessert                      (1918 – 1996)
Emily Groom                    (1875 – 1975)
Gerald Landt                    (1919 –         )
Dorothy Meridith            (1906 – 1986)
Peter Rotier                      (1888 – 1963)
Robert Von Neumann    (1888 – 1976)

We are compiling biographies of each of the founders and will present them at our anniversary show at the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MWA) in April 2012.  We are in the process of locating original watercolors of these artists.

Also found in the files were slides which included later work from the eight original members.  We are beginning to convert these slides as well as those from our later membership into digital images.

We welcome any information our members may have on the Founding Members above or any of our other past members or information you may have on the Wisconsin Watercolor Society through articles, news clippings you may have saved etc. Please direct your information to me by emailing me at,, or by writing to me at:

Barbara Sorenson Rambadt, Historian

3440 Nagawicka Road

Hartland, Wisconsin 53029