Monday, July 15, 2019

Local artist has big plans for community festival grounds, seeks collaborators and donations

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 5:29 PM

  • Art by Brian Seal, photos by Alissa Smith
Fountain-based artist Brian Seal has walked a hard road, and often a lonely one, but he has maintained a vision and his hope for the future. When we talk to him, we can't help but want to see that vision realized — for Seal's sake and the sake of wherever he calls home.

That home used to be Wisconsin, first Fon du Lac, then Shawano. In the latter, he even built a little cabin with an art studio overlooking the lake, the place he thought he would retire. But life circumstances changed too many times to count. He dealt with destructive renters, lost his homes, and lost a great deal more than that.

In the late '90s, Seal's 2-year-old daughter, Miriah Lynn Seal, passed away, and Seal turned to his artwork to find refuge. He painted his first public mural in Miriah's honor, a piece depicting a young girl releasing a dove into the air. It was the first of four murals he would paint in Fon du Lac. His next mural was a tribute to 9/11; the next one promoting diversity with portraits of children of various ethnicities and races; and the final one “a message of love” — a white rose breaking through a wall.

After driving a truck cross-country for about 10 years, Seal returned to Fon du Lac to find the murals all painted over, with school sports trophies and pictures of middle school principals covering them. The intentional way in which his murals were obscured added to a long list of reasons he felt he was no longer welcome in Wisconsin. “So do you fight?” he asks, “Or do you walk away? … I just felt so jilted when they thought softball was more important than the kids in the community. They thought it was more important than people that gave their lives here, gave their lives abroad, and they thought it was more important than my daughter's memorial.”

  • Art by Brian Seal, photos by Alissa Smith

He ended up moving to the Fountain area not too long ago, with an eye on setting up a permanent home here, and creating a gathering place for artists like him to create work and share it with the community.

A multi-talented artist with more than 25 years under his belt, Seal does more than paint. He’s an architect and a builder, and he sculpts, usually fantasy creatures and characters like elves and dragons, inspired by video games and Lord of the Rings.

It’s characters like these that he hopes can populate his vision for a festival grounds of sorts, including a 14-foot-tall dragon sculpture, in progress, that will eventually mark the entrance. These festival grounds would serve multiple functions: Not only could local artists exhibit and sell their work at booths around the complex, but they could also work in studios on-site. Seal’s call to collaborators is open to anyone, from painters and sculptors like Seal to video game developers.

  • Art by Brian Seal, photos by Alissa Smith
On his website, Seal writes: “Art work to be created will be art for good and in the festival grounds will promote gender and racial equality. Other art and future art to be created will be to promote healthy habits.” He envisions video games that have players drink water to regain health, thereby promoting hydration, or games that don’t include violence.

“So that's kind of, you know, the kind of games I want to make,” Seal says with a smile, “and just stuff for nerds.”

But he has run into roadblocks on his path to making this vision a reality. Unable to find many funders or collaborators, Seal has been creating blueprints and concept sketches on his own. Unable to find a permanent place to settle, Seal recently lost access to the venue in Fountain where he had set up a sculpting studio.

Even so, Seal hasn’t given up hope. Hope, in fact, is his most clear and present quality. He has his eye on a property in Fountain that could support his festival grounds, and he hopes to continue seeking collaborators, grants and donations to eventually purchase it. Even small donations can keep the dream alive, and someday bring it to fruition.

“We could get together with people and build,” he says enthusiastically. “I mean, if you can draw and paint, you can swing a hammer, or run a screw gun, or carry a board. Yeah, that can be done.”

Artists, developers, community builders and others interested in collaborating with Seal on his concept for these festival grounds can reach him through, email him at or call him at 920-268-2833.

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