Wisconsin Historical Society Press
Press Release

Book Uncovers Folk Artist’s Life & Driftless Area Watercolors

The book features high-quality reproductions of twenty-two Seifert watercolors.

By - Oct 30th, 2018 04:24 pm
Wisconsin in Watercolor: The Life and Legend of Folk Artist Paul Seifert

Wisconsin in Watercolor: The Life and Legend of Folk Artist Paul Seifert

In 1867, German immigrant Paul Seifert settled in the Driftless Area of south-western Wisconsin and began capturing the distinctive farms and landscapes of his new home in vivid, detailed watercolors. Today, these paintings are coveted by American folk art collectors across the country, but Seifert’s life remains shrouded in mystery. This fall, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press publishes the first book about the colorful painter, Wisconsin in Watercolor: The Life and Legend of Folk Artist Paul Seifert (Hardcover: $29.95, ISBN: 978-0-87020-891-1).

Wisconsin Historical Society curator-turned-author Joe Kapler examines Seifert’s enigmatic life against the intricate yet quaint details of Seifert’s art. The book features high-quality reproductions of twenty-two Seifert watercolors-more than half of which have never been published-and showcases many close-ups of Seifert’s characteristic details, from horses and hay wagons to dogs and dinner bells.

Part art history treatment, part coffee table book, part research memoir, and part love letter to the Driftless area, Wisconsin in Watercolor shines a long-awaited light on Seifert and the land he so carefully rendered over a hundred years ago.


“In Wisconsin in Watercolor, Joe Kapler lovingly explains the genuine bond between Seifert and his subjects, opening our eyes anew to how the artist creatively saw his world-a world that still resonates in the popular imagination today.”
Graeme Reid, Director of Collections and Exhibitions, Museum of Wisconsin Art

“A beguiling and enduring portrayal of Southwest Wisconsin’s bygone folklife and landscape.”
James P. Leary, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, UW-Madison


Joe Kapler is lead curator at the Wisconsin Historical Society. He has curated numerous major exhibitions, including the Society’s 2014 exhibition on Seifert’s art, “Wisconsin in Watercolor: The Farmscapes of Paul Seifert.” He holds a master’s degree in American history from Marquette University and a master’s degree in museum studies from Eastern Illinois University..


Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 – Book Launch Celebration
Time: 6 p.m. (doors open)
Location: Vintage Brewing, 600 Water St., Sauk City, Wis. Celebrate the publication of “Wisconsin in Watercolor” with a visual “tour” of some of the never-before-published Paul Seifert paintings featured in the book. The event includes a reception from 6 to 6:30 p.m. with light refreshments and a cash bar. The evening features a discussion with author Joe Kapler followed by a book signing. Seating is limited; reservations suggested by email to whspress@wisconsinhistory.org by Nov. 2!

Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 – Pendarvis Speakers Series Book Talk & Signing
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin HIstorical Society’s Pendarvis Historic Site, 114 Shake Rag St., Mineral Point, Wis., 53565

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 – History Sandwiched In Book Talk & Signing
Time: 12:15 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin Historical Museum, 30 N. Carroll St., Madison, Wis., 53703.

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