Mary S. Theisen-Helm (1923 - 2003)

Birth date: 1923 Death date: 2003  
Birth location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Death location:  
Media: Painting Web site:
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Biographical Brief

c. 1950-58: League of Milwaukee Artists member
Ran and directed the University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Gallery
Mid-1940s Studied, Layton School of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Mary Theisen-Helm

Born 1923 in Loyal, Wisconsin

Died 2003 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Born one of ten children in Clark County, Wisconsin, Mary Theisen-Helm began her formal art training in Milwaukee where she lived throughout her adult life.  “Imaging and imagination have always been a part of my consciousness as long as I can remember, so the visual arts are a natural expression for most of my non-verbal feelings and impressions,” she said.

In the mid 1940s while working full time in advertising, Theisen-Helm studied under Charles Thwaites at the Milwaukee Art Institute, Gerrit V. Sinclair and Forest Flower at the Layton School of Art and Robert von Neumann at the Wisconsin State Teacher’s College and later at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee she studied with Joseph Friebert and John Colt. It was here that Theisen-Helm attended Friday night drawing sessions which sustained her art spirit through the many years of full time administrative work. She later became Director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Art Gallery.

A member of Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors, the League of Milwaukee Artists, and a charter member of Southeastern Chapter of Wisconsin Women in the Arts, she was also an invited, non-teaching member of the Milwaukee Area Teachers of Art. Theisen-Helm’s artwork can be found in the West Bend Art Museum’s Permanent Collection and in private collections throughout Wisconsin, the Midwest, and on the West Coast.

Selected One-Person Exhibitions:

1971    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union Gallery

1986    Unitarian Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

2000    "Mary Theisen-Helm: 1950-2000" Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Selected Group Exhibitions:

1961    Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors First Annual Watercolor Show, Milwaukee Art Museum

1966    Watercolor Wisconsin , Wustum Museum, Racine, WI

1969    Watercolor Wisconsin, Wustum Museum, Racine, WI

1969    Wisconsin Watercolor Society Annual Show, Mount Mary Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

1971    Watercolor Wisconsin, Wustum Museum, Racine, WI

1971    Women in the Arts, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union Gallery

1974    Women in the Arts, Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, WI

1990-   1991    Wisconsin Women in Art Traveling Exhibit, Rahr Art Museum, Manitowoc, WI

1993    Fourth Annual Remarkable Women Show, Peltz Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

1994-   1996 Galleria del Conte, Milwaukee, WI

© 11/10/2005 Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI                                                                            6/3/2010

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