Jura Silverman Studio and Gallery

Jura Silverman Gallery

In the early 1900s, every small town along the railroad tracks in southwest Wisconsin had a cheese warehouse where the dairy farmers brought their cheeses for packaging and distribution to the large cities around the country. Spring Green had two such cheese warehouses. One is now the Jura Silverman Gallery, housing the Wisconsin Artists Showcase, the other, once a farmer's co-op, is the Spring Green General Store and Cafe.

The Jura Silverman Gallery was Richland Center's Schmidt Brothers Dairy's 3000 sq.ft. Spring Green Warehouse, later acquired by the Borden Company, which served as a distribution point for area cheeses until the 1950s when the US highway system was developed and trucking took the place of rail as the main distributor for the nation's food and produce.

In the 60s, when the Borden company was giving up its former warehouses, this building was acquired by Ralph Monteith, the Borden's supervisor in charge of its warehouse operation in Spring Green. He sold it on contract to a florist, but it reverted back to him after the business failed. Subsequently it was used by his daughter Jean Monteith Upton as a photography studio and frame shop until it was acquired by Jura and Charles Silverman in 1985 as a studio/gallery space.

Jura Silverman Gallery Exhaust Vent

The gallery still retains the old exhaust fan which carried off the fumes from the paraffin vat into which cheeses were dipped to seal them, now serves as an outdoor sculpture. The floors are marked with nail gouges from the wooden crates that held the cheeses, as they were slid across the floor to the shipping area for loading into the box cars waiting on the railroad siding outside. A large window has replaced the open doorway to the boxcars, though the large sliding wooden door still hangs outside.

Jura Silverman Gallery Floor Rings

Large cheddar hoop marks still form dark rings on the gallery floor, marking spots where the round cheddar boxes stood. The floors creak loudly, announcing visitors to the gallery. The rough oak wainscoting in the gallery is made from the raised flooring which kept stored cheeses off the cement floors in the basement. Heavy refrigerator doors still exist in front of the cool room in the cork-insulated basement. The wooden walls retain the signatures of many of the former employees who worked there over many years, reflecting their wish to be remembered.

The back room, which now houses the studio of papermaker and printmaker Jura Silverman, was the ice storage room to which blocks of ice, cut from the nearby Wisconsin River, were hauled by sleigh in winter to be stored through the summer covered by sawdust in a room lined with thick cork on all sides and ceiling for insulation. Now an intaglio etching press, vacuum table for pouring and forming paper, Hollander beater, hydraulic press, handmade paper dryer, and work tables fill the area . Handmade paper and prints hang on the wall, but the sense of history lingers on.

Jurate Bigelis Silverman

Artist's Statement

Jura Silverman

My interest in papermaking began as a printmaker, experimenting with Japanese handmade papers to create a textural background for etchings, monotypes, and linocuts. The idea of creating my own papers with some of the imagery laid directly into the paper was both intriguing, and presented interesting challenges. The result has been many years of experimentation and learning to control the characteristics of the paper -- thickness, crispness, color, texture, patterns, dimensionality.

I have spent almost 30 years developing techniques to not only create imagery in paper, but to explore and define a new set of relationships between prints and paper -- not limited to printing on paper, but also embedding prints into paper, both fully and partially; creating unique papers specifically for certain prints to echo and complement the theme of the print; and creating prints of handmade papers on other handmade papers. My series "Reflections of Time" combines monotypes, monoprints and handmade paper and numbers over 90 works.

My approach to papermaking is painterly, using the pulp to create paintings, building up layers of pulp in landscapes, geometric patterns, and abstract patterns created in pulp and/or embossed with unusual textures. I like to combine metals and copper enamels with the paper for contrasting surface relationships. My "Children of God" series uses copper, copper enamels, and natural materials such as stone for part of the imagery against a matte paper pulp painted background, and numbers over 100 works.

Totem by Jura Silverman

The character of the paper is determined by the fibers used -- linen, cotton, hemp, banana leaf fiber (Manila hemp), silk, and plant materials -- and in the way it is prepared in the Hollander beater. One can combine, alter, and manipulate pulps at any stage of the process, using a variety of techniques. This provides endless possibility for creativity. And it can be both a 2-dimensional and a 3-dimensional medium, thus offering even more potential for expression. Paper is an exciting, wonderfully variable medium.

Handmade paper also forms the background for my original prints and it is the base for my original poetry which accompanies some of my series, thus enabling me to create works in their entirety -- from paper to image. My handmade paper books and cards also provide a tactile experience of paper.

Selected Collections

  • Encyclopedia Britannica, USA; Chicago, Illinois (6)
  • Harris Bank; Chicago, Illinois (7)
  • American Exchange Bank; Madison, Wisconsin (7)
  • The Springs Golf Resort; Spring Green, Wisconsin (83)
  • Reed, Sendecke, Inc.; Madison, Wisconsin (12)
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Credit Union National Association (CUNA); Madison, Wisconsin
  • Western States Envelope; Butler, Wisconsin
  • Stark Livingston, Spring Green, WI (8)
  • Balisle and Roberson, Attorneys; Madison, WI
  • Oshkosh Counseling Center, Oshkosh, WI
  • Lithuanian Cultural Center; Chicago, Illinois (2)
  • The Pleasant Company; Madison, Wisconsin
  • Oscar Mayer; Madison, Wisconsin
  • Taggart and Roy, Attorneys; Sauk City, Wisconsin (2)
  • Valley Bank of Plain, Wisconsin (2)
  • Royal Bank; Spring Green, Wisconsin
  • Saugatuck City Council; Saugatuck, Michigan
  • Sunburst Youth Homes, Wisconsin (2)

Selected Publications/Media

  • Journal of Chemical Education, UW, 2001, Cover and Supplement
  • Prime Time Wisconsin, Wisconsin Public Television, feature, 1988
  • Mark Kane TRAVELER feature, WISC-TV, Madison, WI, l987
  • WMTV, feature, REFLECTIONS OF TIME solo exhibition
  • Wisconsin State Journal featured article, 1986
  • Madison Capital Times featured article, 1986
  • Commemorative artist, WHA TV Auction, 1985

Professional Experience

Printmaker, papermaker, owner of Jura Silverman Studio and Gallery, Spring Green, WI, showing the Wisconsin Artists Showcase; founded 1984.

Founding and active member, Wisconsin Center for Paper Arts, Inc., a nonprofit cultural center for hand papermaking, Madison,WI. Duties included administrative, publicity, fundraising, curriculum development, grant writing, newsletter, exhibition development and curating.

Instructor of papermaking, Wisconsin Center of Paper Arts, Inc. Courses taught include Basic Papermaking, Intermediate Papermaking, Advanced Papermaking for Artists and Teachers, Holiday Workshops, Open Studio Workshops, Hollander Beater Workshops, and private tutorials and demos.

Executed commission for The SPRINGS Golf Resort, Spring Green, WI for 82 handmade paper and copper enamel mixed media works for each of 80 suites, and 2 for the lobby.

Executed commission from Potter, Lawson, Pawlowski Architects - 7 mixed media handmade paper/monotype print works for American Exchange Bank, Madison, WI.

Executed commission for 4 ft x 6 ft HMP work for photo montage by photographer Larry Oliverson for Oscar Mayer/Kraft Foods, Madison, WI.

Curated exhibition PERSONAL ICONS IN PAPER, 1992; Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, Madison, WI.

Cofounder Fall Art Tour, SW Wisconsin, 1993; Cofounder original Open Studio Tour, Spring Green, WI, 1990.

Layout, graphic design, editing SPRING GREEN AREA TRAVELER, publication of Spring Green Area Visitors Council, 1989 -1991; 1995-2001.

Member Advisory Board, American Players Theater, 1985 - 1999; Newsletter publication; Education Committee.

Produced fundraising exhibition CHRISTMAS IN WISCONSIN for American Players Theatre, 1984 -1989, Spring Green, WI.