People always say, “ You can’t judge a book by its cover”, but can you judge a beer?

Welcome to Wisconsin: official land of cheese, unofficial land of beer. Ask any Wisconsinite over the age of 21 and I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you what their beer of choice is… but why is that particular kind of beer their favorite?

Anyone from the age of 21-25 will probably tell you it’s his or her favorite because of the price (poor post-college students unite!), anyone with a more refined palette (that’s not based on how many beers they can get for ten dollars) might say their favorite beer is dependent on taste, others might be loyal to beers that are local, and  a few people might only drink a certain kind of beer just because its what they’ve always bought.

Then there are people like me. I judge every beer by its “cover.” I suppose it might have something to do with the graphic design degree with my name on it, but I gravitate toward beers that hook me by the label, the advertising, how they stand out on a shelf surrounded by other competitors, the visual appeal… I want to be enticed aesthetically before I even  begin think about what kind of beer it actually is.

Beer label designers take a lot of different things into consideration when creating a unique look for a new drink. One thing they consider is the name of the beer. Where does the name draw inspiration from… a historical event or figure? A country? A lifestyle?

Secondly, what kind of beer is it? Is it a dark stout or golden ale, or maybe something in between? What flavors are present? How heavy or light is the beverage? What color does it pour?

Another thing they consider is where the beer is brewed… does that factor into the look of the bottle or the label? And of course, what does the company want you to feel when you see the beer on the shelf? What mood does the artwork create?

That’s the fun when you look at every individual beer bottle as a piece of artwork. You see the art and it immediately tells you something or transports you to another place or time.

I’m sure a lot of you are thinking, “But how artistic can a beer label really be?”

Well, luckily for you I did some extensive research and found some of the most artistically literate beer labels you can buy.


Ethos IPA (India Pale Ale) Tall Grass Brewing Co.

Starting way back at the beginning of art history with prehistoric cave drawings, Tall Grass Brewing Company’s Ethos IPA uses a big, bright, colorful design reminiscent of the images we’ve discovered in the deepest caverns of the world. Coincidentally, Tall Grass describes its Ethos IPA as having a big, bright, and beautiful aroma that explodes with hoppy flavors. If you google the word “Ethos,” you will find that it comes from Greek origins meaning “character,” used to describe the guiding beliefs of a people or nation and how music influenced emotion, behavior and morals in those people.  Think of how cave drawings must have guided people in that time period!

EOS Hefeweizen Nebraska Brewing Company

EOS Hefeweizen Nebraska Brewing Company

Moving into the ages of Greek Mythology, I bring you Nebraska Brewing Company’s EOS Hefeweizen, a Bavarian-Style wheat ale. Although the design has more of a modern illustration feel to it, the imagery draws inspiration from Renaissance marble sculptors such as Michelangelo and Bernini.  Pictured on the can is Eos, the Goddess of Dawn who, according to Greek Mythology, was lifted into the sky at the start each day by her own set of golden wings to welcome the new day. The figure of Eos is a perfect representation of this golden colored wheat ale that has an uplifting fruity flavor.

Duchesse de Bourgogne, BR. Verhaeghe Belgium

Duchesse de Bourgogne, BR. Verhaeghe Belgium

Drawing inspiration from 15th Century Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painters such at Jan Van Eyck, Br. Verhaeghe’s Duchesse de Bourgogne features a portrait image of Mary, Duchess of Burgundy.  The style of bottle and suggested “chalice-shaped glass”along with a roasted malt taste and mature oak finish, ensures that this West-Flemish red brown ale  will transport you back in time to the royal table of Mary herself… talk about the power of design!

Polygamy Nitro Porter Wasatch Brewery

Polygamy Nitro Porter Wasatch Brewery

Finally we arrive to the Italian Renaissance. Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Nitro Porter channels the work of Italian Renaissance painters such as Titian and Michelangelo.  The imagery displayed on the label ties in flawlessly to the title of Wasatch’s newest brew. The Polygamy Nitro Porter is the “sister-wife” of the classic brew by the same name, amped up and smoothed out by the addition of nitrogen bubbles in each bottle.  The porter’s dark, smooth texture is echoed in the bottle design, but the dark mood is uplifted by the brewery’s witty description of the beer. Wasatch makes it very clear that while the Nitro porter is the sister-wife of their original porter, its “OK to love them both” and that it pairs well with “more than one of everything.”  I don’t know about you, but I love any beer that tells me to order two meals with it.

Who would have thought that you could get an art history lesson just by taking a seat at the bar?

Still not convinced that you are missing out on an educational art experience every time you throw back a cold one? See for yourself here.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “creative placemaking?” Unless you are a part of an urban revitalization committee, hold a position in public office, or are very involved in the local arts scene, you probably are left with a feeling of confusion, indifference, or perhaps mild interest. That’s because most people don’t realize how important creative placemaking truly is to a community.

I wrote last month about imagining downtown Green Bay lit up in a magical display of light, creating an exciting ambiance throughout our community. That is creative placemaking. Well technically, it’s the art and science of developing public spaces that attract people, build community by bringing people together, and inspire a sense of local identity… but overall it’s creating places that people want to be.

Now when most people are asked what kinds of things they want to see in their community, their answers are typically monumental. They want bigger buildings to create the cityscape they picture in their mind, they want more parking complexes, more living options, bigger shopping centers… And while all of those things make people come downtown, they don’t make them stay downtown. The things that make people linger at any particular place and spend time aren’t dependent on how tall the buildings are; they are dependent on the environment around them. In order to transform spaces into places people want to be, we need to look around, not up.

Photo by Chris Rand.

Photo by Chris Rand.

In my opinion, our community is on the right track. The downtown districts of Green Bay are creating events that bring people together downtown almost every day. Think of Dine on the Deck, the Farmers’ Market on Broadway, Summer in the Park, Fridays on the Fox, Gallery Nite, the Saturday Farmers’ Market, Food Truck Friday, and so many more! Olde Main has brightened the atmosphere downtown by installing beautiful and colorful bike racks, encouraging people to spend time exploring the neighborhood on wheels and on foot. On Broadway has followed suit and debuted new artistic benches and garbage cans painted by local artists to inspire people to take a seat and enjoy the downtown atmosphere.

One of the new "Benches on Broadway" downtown Green Bay

One of the new “Benches on Broadway” downtown Green Bay.

But Green Bay isn’t the only place that’s inspiring their inhabitants to come downtown and stay there! De Pere is right there with them! With the downtown Art Walk series, Knights on the Fox, and the debut of the EastWest Music Fest, De Pere is giving patrons a reason to spend time downtown. Not to mention the new addition of colorful banners and planters along Main Avenue make it a beautiful place to be.

Downtown De Pere

Downtown De Pere planters and banners.

The greater Green Bay community is looking around and creating beautiful places that people can just be. But what else can we do in our community to turn overlooked spaces into places of interest?

What do YOU want to see in our community? Let us know your ideas!

River Revival - Bounnak Thammavong

River Revival – Bounnak Thammavong

River Revival - Bounnak Thammavong

River Revival – Bounnak Thammavong

Dancing with Light - Jeff Benson and Jim Enloe

Dancing with Light – Jeff Benson and Jim Enloe

Renewal - Carrie Fonder

Renewal – Carrie Fonder

Frog for Dinner - Stephen Fairfield

Frog for Dinner – Stephen Fairfield

My House of Feather and Stone - Richard Taylor

My House of Feather and Stone – Richard Taylor

River Monolith - Andy Kincaid & Rob Neilson

River Monolith – Andy Kincaid & Rob Neilson

Currents - Don Lawler

Currents – Don Lawler

Coming Into Light - Joan Truckenbrod

Coming Into Light – Joan Truckenbrod

We recently rediscovered the work of Mosaic Member  BONNIE de ARTEAGA and fell in love all over again with her incredible pieces and the inspiration behind them. We had to know more about her process and the places from which she draws inspiration. Thanks to Bonnie for answering all of our questions!


Improving on the Circle woodcut & chine collè

The subject matter of your work is so interesting. Tell us about your artistic process and the common themes in your work. 

I blend images from science, myth and nature. My own poetry often informs my work and sometimes appears alongside or imbedded in my prints. Themes range from the cosmos and Greek myth, to observations of human behavior and most recently, a sense of place.

My recent editions employ mixed media printing in which I layer giclèe, solarplate etching, copperplate etching, chine collè, collagraph, relief printing, and drawing in various combinations.

My woodcuts begin as ink drawings or digital photos. I digitize and transfer them to birch plywood. The drawing is then cut with traditional woodcut as well as electric tools. The blocks are printed on my Conrad etching press.

Panske Sundog II

Panske Sundog II

What artists, places and things inspire your work?

Judy Pfaff is probably my favorite artist. She makes prints, installations, and paintings out of everything from tree roots and spirograph patterns, to expanded foam and wire. She is the same age as I am and her prolific works inspire me to keep making art.

My travels have always inspired me as well. My favorite yearly trips are to Washington Island at the tip of the Niagara Escarpment in Door County, and to visit family in Spain.  I have lived “on the ledge” for 25 years and after drinking the water filtered through the escarpment limestone and eating the fish, beef and crops, feel part of the landscape to my very bones. The proof of our sense of place is in our own being. 

Many of my prints are inspired by star maps. I try to capture some of the human drama from Greek mythology that is imbedded in the naming and configuration of the constellations. All of us are made of the stuff of stars. When we look into the night sky, we see ourselves as we were and as we will be.

Phrasebook Frontal

Phrasebook Frontal

You’ve created so many pieces whether they are sculpture, prints, encaustics, or mixed media… Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?

My favorite piece is a sculpture called “No Favors from the Virgin.” It consists of a rectangular vertical block and a cube supported above by a “neck” of three pieces of driftwood. It is drawn with sumi ink and carved to suggest a veiled Madonna. She has cast resin hands held open and empty. The accompanying poem begins; “The poor have heaven; the rich have virtual reality. Somewhere in between the rest of us have La Lucha, the struggle.” It’s about how we can’t escape the reality of life through magic or fantasy.

No Favors from the Virgin

What do you hope people take away from your work?

I hope they take away a feeling of mystery – the sense that language and art cannot express anything completely and that we live forever in the midst of questions and ambiguity.

Any current shows or events coming up that we should look for?

I have work at Margaret Lockwood’s Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor this summer. The opening reception is Sunday, May 24. You can also visit my new studio (Callisto Studio) at 900 Cedar Street, Green Bay on Gallery Nite June 18, from 5-9 pm.

For more local artists, visit our Artist Registry.

It’s that time of year again… The time where the weather starts to get nice, summer is right around the corner, and the construction crews begin to take over our community. Now from my experience, most people aren’t exactly a fan of all the construction that spring and summer bring and, in a sense, I’m not the biggest fan either. Just the other day I was almost late for work because construction on the highway had traffic down to one lane, I had to cross the street four times more than usual because every sidewalk seems to be closed downtown, and for as long as I can remember, the constant pounding of hammers, beeping of cranes, and yells of workers have invaded my office on the fifth floor of the Bellin Building. But the worst (and best) part about it is that there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

That’s the glory of Green Bay.

Photo from Downtown Green Bay, Inc.

Photo from Downtown Green Bay, Inc.

There is always something going on to revitalize our community and that is why I will never truly complain about being surrounded by construction. Whenever I look out the window of our office, I am reminded that I have seen Backstage at the Meyer materialize right in front of my eyes, and then I turn my head and see the beginnings of the Metreau apartment building across the street. If I look a little farther down Washington, I see the CityDeck apartments almost ready to open, a completed Schreiber building, and if I would turn the corner, even more projects!

Photo from Downtown Green Bay, Inc.

Photo from Downtown Green Bay, Inc.

If that’s not inspiration in itself, I don’t know what is.

But what if we could turn all of the construction eyesores into something beautiful?

That’s exactly what Croatian architectural lighting design studio, Skira did. Recently, they transformed mundane shipyard cranes into something incredible. They took the industrial machinery and reimagined each crane to create a hypnotic ballet made of light, metal, and sound. The team took the cranes, things that were a staple of the landscape but not typically recognized for their beauty and grace, and transformed them into “Lighting Giants,” a colorful, magical display meant to resemble origami paper cranes.


Photo from the Huffington Post

Can you imagine how our opinion of construction would change if we were to reimagine its purpose? If we were to abandon the equipment’s industrial use and create one solely based on aesthetic? Our summer skyline would be BEAUTIFUL!

So next time you think to yourself how horrible and unappealing all of the construction is, remember that inspiration might be right outside of your window.

Check out Skira’s work here.

Did you know that students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower dropout rates? Or that with 4 years of exposure to arts and music in high school, students will score an average of 100 points better on the SAT than students with only one-half year of arts or music? It’s not a secret that the arts play a vital role in the development of children… So why are schools on a downward trend in terms of providing students with meaningful arts experiences both inside and outside of the school day?

Classical music concert outdoors.

With countless reports that discuss the positive impact of the arts, research continues to prove that the arts are important to every aspect of education and the correlation between arts learning and academic skill is undeniable. According to Americans for the Arts, by integrating the arts into education instructors have been able to engage struggling students, develop creative thinking skills, strengthen problem-solving skills, and increase academic achievement and, in turn, overall school success. And the benefits of a creative education aren’t limited to the classroom! The arts teach children important life skills like cooperation, appreciation of different cultural values, decision-making, self-discipline and self-confidence – things that they will use for the rest of their life!

Hands Making Pottery On A Wheel

So how can we provide every student with the opportunity to engage and participate in the arts both inside and outside of the school day, and ensure that all students have ongoing and equal access to high quality arts learning through dance, music, theater, visual arts, literary arts and more?

Thankfully we live in a community that is rich in artistic resources and Mosaic intends on taking full advantage!

We are currently taking the lead on developing a community-based arts education plan for the greater Green Bay community. A team comprised of artists, teachers, administrators, arts managers, and community leaders are in the process of working with the greater Green Bay area school districts, community arts organizations, and artists to assess needs, identify challenges, facilitate communication, and plan programs that give children the opportunity to participate in high quality arts learning.

street artist

The Arts and Education program will enable us to connect local artists and arts organizations with schools to encourage a collaborative atmosphere and address the different needs each school has when it comes to arts education. The purpose of this program is to increase the opportunities for arts learning across the board and help schools, artists and community arts organizations grow and develop cohesively.


Programs will include in-school artist residencies, field trips, and performances that ensure rich arts experiences for all students, no matter their learning style or cultural background. However, the students won’t be the only ones learning! Mosaic will provide all arts specialists and teaching artists with professional development opportunities, as well as advocating to the community the importance of arts education, public funding, and developing community support and resources.

Mosaic envisions a creative community where all students have access to and actively take part in high quality arts learning. Ensure that the next generation receives a well-rounded creative foundation rich in the arts. Infuse education with art!