Return of the Asparagus Man: Heaven on Earth for WADA and Friends

“Asparagus Man” painting donated to

2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction;

Heaven on Earth to be displayed at

Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Assn. Show

Feb. 6 & 7, 2015, Waukesha

Anyone familiar with Wild Rose, Wisconsin, will remember it is as a tiny, picturesque town, smack dab in the middle of the state. If you ever traveled down County Highway K between 1947 and 1975, you may have encountered the tiny one-bedroom farm home of Adam and Anna Berg with signs “Odd Job Work” and “Asparagus” hanging on the clapboards. Adam had just retired as a Chicago cab driver in 1947 when he and Anna made Wild Rose their home, selling asparagus and charging 10-cent admission to their art gallery to generate a small cash income. He soon became known locally as the “Asparagus Man.”

A self-taught folk artist, Berg believed isolation from the cultural mainstream allowed him to develop a technique to “carve” his paintings using the medium of oil. By adding multiple layers of oil paint over a period of years, he painstakingly transformed his detailed paintings into low reliefs up to ½” thick. Berg described Heaven on Earth, completed in 1963 after five years of paint layering, as “the masterpiece of his life’s work.”

Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 1 (2)

Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 3 (3)Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 6 (2)

This most impressive 60″ x 48″ piece, which was purchased in 1973 for $2,300 ($13,000 in 2014 dollars!) and which traveled throughout Wisconsin as part of the exhibit Grass Roots Art: Wisconsin, has been generously donated to the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society for their 2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction, which will raise important funding for Wisconsin historic preservation.

Furthermore, before Heaven on Earth reaches its auction destination, it first will be displayed at the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association (WADA) Show on February 6 & 7, 2015 at the Waukesha County Expo Center!

WADA is kindly providing the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society with a free booth at this antiques show, where volunteers will accept tax-deductible donations of antique and vintage items for the 2016 auction. Tax-deductible receipts will be provided at the show to each donor. WADA also has provided their fourth grant to the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society as founding & continuing sponsors of the 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction. To learn more about WADA antiques shows and the grants and scholarships they provide, see www.wisconsinantiquesdealers.com.

Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service in Oconomowoc has once again volunteered to call the auction. You can follow her many auctions throughout the year at www.baileyshonor.com.

For questions about  the 2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction, or to make a donation of an antique or vintage item, please contact Riene Wells at 262-363-4700, info@eagle-house.com,or Debbie McArdle at 815-575-1272, jjmcard@comcast.net.

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