In 2012 and 2013, the Mead Public Library Foundation received 43 paintings by Dr. James D. Michael, gifts from his estate by his wife, Betsy Jones Michael. James Michael died on November 10, 2011 at the age of 83.
Twenty-two paintings were included in the 2012 exhibit, “Celebration of Life, Heritage Paintings by James Michael.” They represent some of his personal favorites from 30-plus years of painting. They showcase his evolving vision from traditional historical landscape watercolors to a stronger personal technique, similar to the richness of oil paintings.
The ten paintings in the 2013 gift were designated by the donor to honor retired Library Director Sharon Winkle. Two other paintings included in the first floor exhibit had been given to Mead Public Library previously: depictions of the John Michael Kohler home from an anonymous donor; and of the steamer Sheboygan, purchased by the Friends of Mead Public Library with donations from community members.
Eleven paintings, included in the 2012 gift from the estate, hang in staff areas of the library building, at the request of the donor. These may be viewed by prior arrangement with the library’s Administrative Services staff.
After 29 years as a physician in the Internal Medicine Department at the Sheboygan Clinic, James Michael retired to paint full time and ultimately to teach watercolor painting at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Plymouth Arts Center, and the Clearing in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin.
He exhibited locally and nationally, and became a signature member of the Wisconsin Watercolor Society (WWS), the Transparent Watercolor Society of America (TWSA), the National Watercolor Society (NWS), and the American Watercolor Society (AWS) and has been the recipient of numerous awards. More than a thousand of his paintings hang in private and corporate collections, and many were donated to local charity benefit auctions including fund-raising events sponsored by the Friends of Mead Public Library.
James and Betsy Michael have had a long history of support for Mead Public Library and are charter members of the Mead Public Library Foundation’s Renaissance Society, and for that, the Sheboygan community is grateful.