Dick Wiken (1913 - 1985)

Birth date: 1913 Death date: 1985  
Birth location: Death location:  
Media: Ceramic Sculpture , Decorative Art , Metalsmithing , Sculpture Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.

Biography

Dick Wiken
1913, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1985, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Born in 1913 in Milwaukee, Dick Wiken is a self-taught sculptor, designer, and craftsman. Wiken graduated from Bay View High School in 1931 and attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for two years, studying journalism, english and history. During World War II, Wiken served  on active duty in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1943 to 1946. Having been a lifelong resident of the Milwaukee area, Wiken's many works in wood, stone, and metal have decorated many buildings and homes in the Milwaukee area and beyond.

Beginning his artistic career in the early days of the Great Depression in 1931, Wiken was employed during the mid to late 1930s as a member of the Painters and Sculptors Unit of the Wisconsin Works Progress Administration (WPA) Art Project. The Wisconsin WPA was a program of the federally- funded New Deal Arts programs which were created to provide employment for artists who needed work. Wiken also worked for the Milwaukee Handicraft Project, another program of the Wisconsin WPA. The Handicraft Project employed unskilled workers as well as trained artists and designers to produce a multitude of items- books, toys, costumes, quilts, wall hangings, draperies, weavings and rugs for use in schools, nurseries, and institutions throughout the state and the country. Wiken designed and made the prototype for a doll head, and supervised workers in the woodworking toys unit. In addition to his work with the WPA, Wiken was an Instructor of Sculpture at the Art Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1934-1937, and, from 1938-1943, at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

Prior to 1945, Wiken participated extensively in general art activities, including many juried exhibitions. Around 1945, Wiken withdrew from almost all exhibitions to devote his full time to the design and execution of professional commissions, while still occasionally exhibiting in non- competitive art shows. Wiken went on to produce works for many banks, high schools, churches, libraries, and breweries throughout the Milwaukee area, along with completing many private commissions for sculpted portraits throughout the country. 

Among Wiken's many works include a set of  wood carved panels depicting the rape of Mexico for a hotel in Mexico, a set of historical sculptures for a hotel in Chicago,  carved doors for the Administration Building at Solider Field in Chicago, and a fountain at the Milwaukee Journal Central Plaza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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