A blog about Harry by Deb Whitehorse.
About Deb: Harry was married to the late Marlene Dreger for 35 years and they had 8 children. Marlene passed away in 1986. Harry and I were married for over 25 years and we have a daughter who has inherited her father’s love for art and works in a creative field. Harry led an incredible life and it’s important for those of us who knew him to tell his story. This is my way of sharing what he told me and what I observed during our time together.
Harry was fascinated by cars his entire life. One day when he was around 13, his uncle and mentor, George Seymour, told him that if he could drive his Ford Model T home, Harry could keep the car. Harry had never driven and couldn’t figure out how to shift the gears, so in his usual way, he adapted to the circumstances by driving the car to their home – in reverse.
Harry owned and operated Chief Auto Body for well over 30 years in Monona, Wisconsin. Throughout his life, Harry loved messing around with cars (and race cars, but that’s another story). He admired the Cord and customized an El Camino to look like one. Harry’s son Greg remembers, ” His custom cars were never meant to be ‘show’ cars. They were meant to be driven. Logged many miles on them. The “Cord” was a pickup truck (think El Camino-ish), and was used as a parts chaser for the body shop. The ‘57 Chevy was just fun to drive. Others I remember were; the “Rolls”, the pickup he made from the old Chrysler, the Pontiac dune buggy (which was ridiculous) and a bobbed VW Beetle. And the camper. May have been others.”
Sometime in the 1950s, Alex Jordan, the eccentric builder of House on the Rock, had Harry create a car on a truck chassis. Being the promoter that he was, Alex Jordan made up a fantastic story about that car – that he bought it from a royal prince or something like that. Harry is listed in the wiki Kustomrama, “the traditional rod and custom encyclopedia”.
The next time you visit the UW Madison’s Arboretum, pay close attention to the murals located in the Visitor Center Orientation Theater created by the great Russian wildlife artist, Viktor Bakhtin. Viktor admired Harry’s work and was inspired to include him in the mural to honor Harry’s connection to the Four Lakes area. Harry was moved by Viktor’s paintings and recognized their mutual close relationship to nature.
I was thinking of Viktor’s visits to Harry and looked him up, discovering that sadly, Viktor passed on in 2016. Former UW Arboretum director Greg Armstrong suggested that Viktor Bakhtin create the murals. Greg wrote a heartfelt tribute to Viktor, “Remembering Viktor Bakhtin”, posted on the Arboretum’s website.
Among the people he consulted was Harry Whitehorse, a Ho-Chunk Nation artist, whose ancient ancestors built the mounds located at the Arboretum. Victor portrayed the First Nation’s relationship to the land from the time the glaciers receded more than 12,000 years ago. Read more.
I hadn’t thought of the murals in a long time. Harry’s influence and works were so numerous, it’s often too easy for me to forget the wonderful projects that always seemed to come his way.
By Lawrence Andrea – Sep 18, 2018
Harry Whitehorse served and represented his community through his art.
Born into the Ho-Chunk tribe in a wigwam near the Indian Mission in Black River Falls in 1927, the now world-renowned sculptor and painter began his career in art locally as an apprentice to his uncle, an accomplished silversmith. Continue reading.
This was one of the most meaningful commissions for Harry Whitehorse, as World War 2 Navy Veteran and Ho Chunk Nation tribal member.
A place of peace and healing, The Highground celebrates 30 years
Wisconsin State Journal
The park is home to the National Native American Vietnam Veterans Tribute dedicated in 1995 and bearing, in alphabetical order, the names of Native American troops from tribes around the country killed in Vietnam. They include Paul Pamanet, a private in the U.S. Army killed in action in 1968, and Martin Pamonicutt, a U.S. Marine killed in 1969. They are listed next to each other. Both were from the village of Neopit on the Menominee Reservation northwest of Green Bay.
The Capital Times
By Abigail Becker
The small triangle-shaped parcel on Monroe Street unofficially known as Crazylegs Plaza will be home to a bronze sculpture of a badger designed by Madison artist Harry Whitehorse, who died in 2017.