Q&A – Questions & Artists – Archelle “Buttons” Wolst

“Favorite Clock” by Archelle ‘Buttons’ Wolst.

Archelle “Buttons” Wolst is well known to almost all members of the Door County art community. Her work is regularly seen in the Miller Art Museum and Hardy Gallery juried shows.

Randy Rasmussen (RR): What is the origin of your nickname “Buttons”?

Archelle “Buttons” Wolst (ABW): I was a premature baby born two months early. My sister, along with other family members, came to visit me in the hospital and, seeing what looked like a little button on my face (my nose), she and other family members began calling me “Buttons.”

RR: Where were you born and raised?

ABW: I was born in Somerset, Pennsylvania, a small town about the size of Sturgeon Bay. I spent the first 25 years of my life in my hometown. I grew up with a mother who was an art teacher who encouraged my creativity.

RR: Growing up in Somerset you probably took every art class available?

ABW: I really was encouraged to take art classes and in high school I was the “poster girl.” I enjoyed creating posters for school events, making displays and with my family’s approval wanted a career as an art teacher.

RR: Your BA and MFA are from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Did you enjoy your college career?

“Checkered Shoes” by Wolst.

ABW: Yes, college was great. My BA gave me training in a wide variety of art disciplines including painting, ceramics and design. My MFA was in printmaking.

RR: After your BA did you teach?

ABW: Yes, I taught and I was married. Teaching went along with starting a family and my life became much busier with children.

RR: You lived for a time in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin and worked as an editor for children’s books.

ABW: I was an editor at Western Publishing in Racine. I “wrote” coloring books. Actually my job was very creative. I worked on concepts, paper dolls, anything that I thought of was actually put together. I actually saw my ideas turned into reality.

RR: After this job you and your husband moved to Door County?

ABW: Yes, and I started Snow Star Ltd., a high-end stationary store in Sturgeon Bay and Fish Creek.

RR: I know you have a great interest in portraiture and last year won Best in the Show in Cheryl Stidwell-Parker’s The Door Prize for Portraiture. How did your interest in doing portraits develop?

ABW: It seems I have always been interested in painting faces. When I was a little girl my mom would give me paper and a pencil in church and during the sermon I would draw people in the choir.

RR: Who are some of your favorite artists?

ABW: John Singer Sargent, of course; Schomer Lichtner; and probably Ken Dewaard.

RR: How would you describe your current work?

“Sunlit Shoulder” by Wolst.

ABW: I think my work is loose with a strong sense of design. I use juicy, brushy strokes. I am more of an impressionist than anything else. The more paintings I do the more confident I have become.

RR: What do you like best about living in Door County?

ABW: I think living in Door County is like living in paradise. There is an unbelievable amount of giving, caring people living in our county. We live in a wonderful place to paint with subject everywhere. My husband and I are fortunate to live in the trees on a peaceful quiet road.

RR: Do you have one teacher that has been especially important on your path in art?

ABW: I have been fortunate to study with many outstanding instructors and all have helped me. One artist and teacher, a Japanese artist named Kobayashi, made me realize, “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” His philosophy has stayed with me.

RR: One final question: what do you think – in our rapidly changing world – is the future of art?

ABW: I think art will always be with us. There will, in my opinion, always be people who will appreciate original art.

RR: Thank you.

Wolst’s work can currently be seen at Woodwalk Gallery, located at 6746 County Road T in Egg Harbor. She is also in a two-women show with Andrea Kinsey Jauquet at the Door Peninsula Winery in Carlsville and in the Hardy Gallery’s 2013 Collection Show until Aug. 25.

For more information about Wolst, visit or email at [email protected].