Songwriting Workshop with Musicians Jim White and Paul Fonfara
February 2017

Workshop participants learned about song structure, chord progression, and discussed how music can influence text and vice versa. After this introduction, groups explored works from the exhibition and collected ideas for the core of a song. Using a call and response approach, they fashioned a beat-oriented rhythm for songs and ultimately worked toward a recorded song that reflected works and ideas of the Folk & Fable: Levi Fisher Ames & Albert Zahn exhibition.

Listen to songs by workshop participants:

Emergy Blagdon >

Docent Testimony >

Geckos >

She Roams >

Moving On >

Appearing in The Milwaukee Music Video Show, this fantastical sung story tells of a whittled Hodag that came to life when "The Thief" snatches him from his creator. Written and performed by Jim White (Thief) and Paul Fonfara (Carnival Barker), the song and visuals are inspired by the life and work of Wisconsin visionary artist Levi Fisher Ames (John Michael Kohler Arts Center collection) and the tall tales he would sing with his family band about the hundreds of real and mythic creatures he would carve out of wood. One of those specimens was the Hodag, a creature of Wisconsin folklore thought to have originated in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

"The Saga of the Whittled Hodag" was produced by 371 Productions for the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and in attendance will be Writer & Performer Paul Fonfara, Director Kara Mulrooney, Executive Producer Brad Lichtenstein, Performers Michael Rossetto and Elaine Fraser, Editor Ryan Sarnowki, Production Designer Amanda Tollefson, Director of Photography Tate Bunker, and Director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Sam Gappmayer.

The Exhibition-Artists-in-Residence program is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust and our JMKAC 2018 Gala Reverse Auction donors.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.