The Clearing Prepares Newest Exhibition, “Colors of the Clearing”

“Night Trail to The Schoolhouse” by Marilyn Brandenburger.

The vivid reds and oranges of fall leaves and sunsets are often the biggest draws to Door County, not to mention the delicate pastels of spring blooms, the chilly blues and whites of winter, and the bright greens of summer foliage.

Those colors, in all their appeal, will be the focus of The Clearing Folk School’s most recent fundraising exhibition, “The Clearing Speaks: Colors of the Clearing,” now on display in the Jens Jensen Visitor Center.

More specifically, the exhibition will draw attention to the colors of the 130-acre campus, which hosts a number of yearlong educational opportunities through its summer, workshop and winter programs.

“The Clearing Speaks: Colors of the Clearing,” will feature 18 visual works and seven written pieces created during one of the school’s many art and writing classes, including watercolor, quilting, carving, weaving, colored pencil, beading, knitting, photography, fused glass and gourd carving.

The exhibition was initiated in 2010 to bring attention to the folk school’s 75th anniversary and has since become a favorite of The Clearing’s students, staff and visitors. It is now an annual fundraising event for The Clearing’s scholarship fund and gives visitors a glimpse into what they are likely to experience during a week on the beautiful campus.

“The Three Pines” by Wendy Butler Berns.

“It’s fun to see what people like about this place. Some people are coming just for the class, others are coming for the scenery, to get away,” said Erik Rinkleff, assistant director and exhibit curator at The Clearing. “You see a lot of the different things that people are drawn to through the artwork and the written work.

“This year the theme was ‘Colors of the Clearing’,” he added. “What colors inspire you? Spring wildflowers, fall colors, the muted tones of the woods or the path that goes down to the schoolhouse. Everybody has their own idea of what color they are drawn to. It’s a nice collection of work.”

Many of the pieces pay tribute to The Clearing’s traditions, old and new, like the mouthwatering “Strawberries and Chocolate Sauce” watercolor by Bridget Austin inspired by the favorite Wednesday afternoon dessert or the autumn-inspired picnic set by Carol Heil that honors the Thursday afternoon tradition of holding picnics on campus.

“Jens Jensen, our founder, loved to take his students out into new landscapes to go exploring and they would often pack a picnic lunch because they would be gone all day,” Rinkleff said.

“Mertha’s Wall Basket” by Denise Arzberger.

Others pay tribute to the scenery and landscape, while some simply are a celebration of the opportunity The Clearing has offered them. All items in the exhibition will be sold through a raffle, with raffle tickets available for $5 each or six for $25. Raffle winners will be drawn at the conclusion of the exhibit in late October. The inaugural exhibition in 2010 helped the school raise close to $10,000 with subsequent exhibitions helping raise approximately $3,000 each year.

“It’s a platform for people to show off their work and share it with either their fellow students, other people who take classes, or our visitors,” Rinkleff said.

“The Clearing Speaks: Colors of the Clearing” will be up through Oct. 24. The Clearing Folk School is located at 12171 Garrett Bay Road in Ellison Bay. For more information, visit or call 920.854.4088.

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