Deconstructing the Avant Garde: Ed McCartan’s Art Retrospective

When my dad moved into the nursing home, I didn’t think an art show would be possible. I shelved the idea of a gallery opening. His amazing work has only been shown publicly at outdoor art shows once or twice, more than fifty years ago. He has always been a humble man and he remains unrecognized for a large body of artwork created during his lifetime.

Ed McCartan Self-portrait

Ed McCartan’s self-portrait.

Then Hospice took over. They came up with an idea to do a retrospective at the nursing home where he is living, the Evansville Manor, a few blocks from my parents’ house in Evansville, Wisconsin. Danny and I had to go.

Drawing had helped my dad with the transition into the nursing home. He would sit in the window of his small room and sketch from photographs or from a book of animals. A few weeks before the show, he stopped drawing.

Ed McCartan Art show 2

Dad and Mom.

My mom had framed many pieces over the course of the last year. He had forty paintings to show. We set them up in order from earliest to latest work.

Ed McCartan with Linda and Pat Zielinski

My cousin Patrick Zielinski and his wife, Linda, helped Danny, my brother, Joe, and me set up.

Ed McCartan art show

Ed McCartan Art Show

Ed McCartan Abstract art

Tug Boat by Ed McCartan

Art Show Ed McCartan

The show chronicled his early days on the farm in the town of Lake Five, our life in Madison, and family vacations, to the avant-garde and deconstructed drawings of the last year, due to dementia.

This was the portrait room. Why the bird painting? Dad painted it after my brother, Joe, was born. Three hungry mouths to feed. Danny noticed a lot of humor conveyed in Dad’s artwork.

The Portrait room Ed McCartan

Three hungry mouths to feed

Portrait of Patty and Susie


American Family Insurance recognized Dad for designing their logo. My brother is standing in the back. Yes. He got all of the height in the family.

American Family Insurance and logo designer Ed McCartan

American Family Insurance and logo designer Ed McCartan 1

Family and friends attended the show. Steve Pagelow, Joe, Danny’s sister, Lori Pagelow, Mike Siemion and you know the rest. I’m showing off my double jointed elbows. AKA Susie Slicer on the court.

Lindau McCartan family

Ed and friends

Ed McCartan art show 3

My cousins, Eileen Soto and Dan Kieliszewski, and Uncle Ted Kieliszewski drove from Milwaukee. DSC08852

Dad really enjoyed seeing his artwork again. I loved the old show cards which became billboards when he worked at Hansen Outdoor Advertising as their art director.

Mom and Dad Art showShow cards by Ed McCartan

How did Danny end up in a show card from the early 1960’s?

Danny skiing Ed McCartan show card

It was ironic to see the drawings he did while quarantined in the Air Force for rheumatic fever. That’s why he’s in the nursing home. Dad’s heart is functioning at 15% due to valve damage from that disease.

Ed McCartan in the Air Force drawings

Ed McCartan art show 4

He painted quite a few abstracts

Ed McCartan 1

Ed McCartan 2

and many watercolors.

Ed McCartan log cabin

Ed McCartan Edmund Fitzgerald

His drawings and watercolor sketches filled six tables. I only picked a few of them for the show. Somewhere there’s an album filled with the logos he designed under his own name, McCartan Advertising.

Ed McCartan drawings

Ed McCartan drawings

The ones he drew since having dementia are wonderfully distorted.

Our deer Friend Ed McCartan

Ed McCartan drawings with dementia

Ed McCartan and dementia

Ed McCartan drawings

Pope Francis by Ed McCartan

After growing up surrounded by art, it was amazing to see it all displayed. The next day, I discovered another stack of drawings and large watercolors in his office at home. Who knows what I might find in their attic?

That Monday, my parents celebrated their 58th Wedding Anniversary.

McCartan family

I know my sister, Patty, would have loved to have celebrated with us. Ah, the life of a working girl.

I’m so thankful to Mercy Hospice and Evansville Manor for hosting the event and for American Family Insurance representatives for stopping by. My dad, Ed McCartan, is truly a gifted artist and appreciates everyone’s effort.

I talked to my mom today. Dad is drawing again. Yay!

Do you have a hobby or life’s passion? Is there something you would love to learn how to do?

Are You Adventurous? Take the Quiz!

According to Wikipedia, adventure is an exciting or unusual experience. It may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking with an uncertain outcome.


Although I have a reasonable amount of fear which prevents me from doing anything super crazy and life threatening, I get bored doing the same old thing. I tend to seek out new experiences in almost every aspect of my life.

soap tastes yucky

Soap on a rope tastes yucky, but at least I tried it.

When we were children, we approached new experiences with wonder. My family went on Sunday drives to explore Southern Wisconsin. I have memories of hiking, camping, canoeing and making new friends.

Girl Scout Camp

When was the last time you made a fun weekend plan that didn’t include mundane tasks or a trip to Home Depot? Continue reading

Amazing Outdoor Photos from WRFChallengers

Have you wanted to commit to exercise, but can’t seem to get into a routine? Here’s what’s working for me.

Take the 90 day Wild Rider Fitness Challenge. It ends on September 8th with a Wild Party. It’s super easy. Really! Exercise two or more times a week and get outside at least once. That’s all! You can walk around your neighborhood or scale a mountain. It’s up to you.

Post photos on Instagram and Twitter of your outdoor adventures and tag them #WRFChallenge. I’ll continue to feature some of them here. Or you can blog about your own adventure and link it to Join the Wild Rider Fitness Challenge, so more can join.

Here’s what the WRFChallengers have been up to!

Ginger Calem ran with an eagle in Texas.

Continue reading

A Canine Crime Caper

A crime of passion occurred in our house last Sunday. The result of a love so strong she would risk everything including her health and her place in society. The best of the beasts crafted and succeeded in pulling off this caper. But which beast?

tug of war

It started with a brilliant plan. It would have worked if she had only covered her tracks. She fooled all of us, for a while.

First she lulled us in a relaxed setting. Continue reading

A Passionate Lifetime


Imagine living without the internet, television, or electricity. It’s hard, right? My dad, Ed McCartan, grew up in such a place; A farm located miles away from the closest town, Lake Five, Wisconsin. He went to school in the classic one-room school house and graduated, the only one in his class. Although he is quick with a smile and a joke, it’s possible his shy manner came from this isolation. Somewhere along the line, he discovered art. He bought a motorcycle and commuted to Milwaukee to attend the Layton School of Art. Continue reading

Wild Rider Fitness Challenge – A Guest Post by Maggie C

I would like you to meet Maggie C from, What Rhymes with Stanza? She has taken the 90 day Wild Rider Fitness Challenge. Maggie has written a wonderful outdoor photo essay about the pet-ometer and how it keeps her going. I can see where it is an excellent motivator. I think you’ll really enjoy this. It may motivate you too.

Take it away Maggie C!


Thank you, Susie, for hosting the Wild Rider Fitness Challenge!

I’ve actually been taking daily walks for about a year now, but the Challenge is motivating me to “step up” my game. I have difficulty sticking with any kind of healthy endeavor, it seems, so having kept at it this long is pretty amazing (or perhaps I’m just easily amazed).

The secret to maintaining my exercise regimen this past year has been my Pet-ometer. He doesn’t measure how many steps I’ve taken in a day, but he lets me know when it’s time to walk,


and — if I don’t get my rear off the couch soon enough — he lets me know it’s REALLY time for a walk. Continue reading

Surrounded by Vivid Color

Last week, I biked outside for the first time since knee surgery. Surrounded by vivid color, I had to stop and take a few photographs. I had looked forward to riding to Hygiene, about ten miles away, but the skies threatened.

bike hike in Boulder County

It has been stormy here in Boulder County. When I rode again yesterday, I made it to the tiny town. I returned home as the skies opened up. After going out for dinner, tornadoes, torrential rain, and a lightning show like no other, made driving a challenge.

Stormy skies above Niwot

Thunderstorms rolled in early today and the landscape is muted. When the skies clear, mountain vistas will once again burst with vivid color.

Have you been spending time outside? Has the weather been stormy in your neck of the woods?

This week’s photo challenge is “Vivid.