John Swartwout

John Swartwout

Wisconsin Rapids, WI


John Swartwout (b. 1971) grew up in a rural community outside the township of Pine River, Wisconsin, where he used to spend countless hours as a kid building forts throughout large patches of woods, around his parent’s home with his brother. He was always making things in the family garage.......sometimes dangerous things. However; he once went to his father’s metal shop and was surrounded by metal working machines that spun, twirled, hissed, and glistened. It had such an affect that to this day you can find elements of this in his work. Just as important, he grew up in in the typical upper-Midwestern environment seeping and I mean……….seeping with dry humor, which I think seeped into his work as well. Many growing seasons passed and he went on to graduate from two art schools, which were Viterbo University and UW Madison. After which, his crazy art shenanigans took him to Britain, Germany, and Northwestern Ontario. During his time abroad, he had the honor of working as a community artist through ArtsAccess and wrangled teenagers for YAK: youth arts council. He has participated in numerous group and solo shows ranging from museums to film festivals. Eventually, he moved back to his home state of Wisconsin, where he’s very happy with his wife Birgit and his two sons Johnathon and Samuel.


Artist Statement

Creating art is a multi-faceted endeavor, which is constant. One part of it is the exploration between content and context. For me, another is the pushing of materials. Throughout my work there is a intermittent sidestep, where I enjoy finding objects that were discarded and create a small place within it that beckons to have its own rules. The limit is my imagination and the physical space within the object. Music for me is a considerable path within my art and a tribute to a particular time and place. A time and place that has deep roots in popular music. Within the Midwest there were great influences that helped shape rock and roll. From Chuck Berry to Joe Walsh to Les Paul, who literally was a pioneer in the development of the electric guitar. Boomtown is the culmination of creativity, testing abilities, and homage to those in the Midwest who paved the way in music. In case you’re wondering, boomtown was really built on rock and roll.

John Swartwout, Boomtown, 2023, Reclaimed boombox, hand-built miniature wood structures, paint, and clear finish, 15" x 8" x 6"