On Being Here (and There)

Tokens of Appreciation

March 8, 2020 — November 29, 2020

Tokens of Appreciation considers the meaningful and unexpected relationships that develop between Kohler Co. factory associates and Arts/Industry residents who come to the factory to create art.

For many Arts/Industry residents, it is their first time entering a factory; for some, it is also their first time working with clay or metal. Kohler Co. associates such as “Brass” Bob Halfmann have had an undeniable impact on the ultimate success of uncountable residents in the factory’s Pottery and Foundry over the years.

Halfmann is one of the most notable and influential figures in the history of John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Arts/Industry program. The recently retired Halfmann, an engineering technician III at Kohler Co., oversaw the melt operation for all the brass made into faucets and fittings as well as artworks. Tokens of Appreciation features works from Halfmann’s personal collection of hundreds of objects created by residents, given to him as tokens of their gratitude for his help. The exhibition also includes works of art donated to the Arts Center by Arts/Industry artists-in-residence.

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View JMKAC's Arts/Industry collection >


Tokens of Appreciation—Interview with “Brass” Bob Halfmann

Tokens of Appreciation 360 Tour

Download this exhibition handout while taking the 360-degree tour.


Tokens of Appreciation and Arts/Industry

JMKAC's renowned Arts/Industry program gives artists a chance to create in Kohler Co.’s Foundry and Pottery. Learn more about the program from these video interviews with former Arts/Industry artists-in-residence Risa Puno and Will Pergl. Both have pieces included in this exhibition.


Tokens of Appreciation is part of the exhibition series On Being Here (and There)

In a time of social distancing and isolation, On Being Here (and There) highlights the ways artists, cultural organizations, and communities initiate connections, encourage belonging, and provide social sustenance. The works presented in this series of exhibitions reveal how artistic practices can enhance and activate our communities.

The themes of care, connectivity, and relationship building are at the center of On Being Here (and There). These are expressed through: participatory practices that take art from the studio to the public sphere, acts of generosity and exchange, and projects that shed light on timely social issues or give voice and visibility to the marginalized.

The series is anchored by a group exhibition titled Between You and Me, which brings together contemporary artists whose practices are intentional acts of care for their neighbors and broader communities.

Complementing Between You and Me are two exhibitions that engage the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s history of collaboration, collecting, and preservation. Tokens of Appreciation is a story about the unique relationships that develop between Kohler Co. factory associates and artists participating in the Arts/Industry residency program. Good Road to Follow, which draws from the Arts Center’s collection, evokes Adolph Vandertie’s in-house museum of hobo and tramp art and explores the role of grass-roots archiving in preserving community culture. Photographs by David Eberhardt, who rode the rails throughout the United States, surround the Vandertie installation and poignantly portray the lives of his fellow travelers.

These exhibitions are supplemented by The Projector Room, a gallery newly dedicated to the showing of film and video artworks that expand on themes found in the galleries. Screenings will include Bill Daniel’s Who Is Bozo Texino?, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain’s Inscriptions of an Immense Theater, and Kevin Schmidt’s EDM House.

The exhibitions, events, and activities that comprise On Being Here (and There) demonstrate that what artists and arts organizations make happen is just as important as the objects they create and exhibit.

This exhibition is supported by the Kohler Trust for Arts and Education, the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust, Kohler Foundation, Inc., Herzfeld Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.