Studio Northwoods

I was born in Santa Monica, California – a mile from the beach . . .

. . . the daughter of Vienna-born parents. My father was Austrian actor Hans (John) Wengraf who immigrated to the United States in 1938. In Vienna, Mr. Wengraf was a leading man and director of the Vienna State Theater (Burgtheater) during the 1920s. He made his 1939 American debut in New York in the Maxwell Anderson play, “Candle in the Wind,” starring Helen Hayes.

In 1943, my father moved to Hollywood where he continued his career as a character actor on television and in the movies until 1970. He was in such films as The Pride and the Passion, Desert Fox, The Prize, and Ship of Fools, as well as television series such as Playhouse 90, and Bonanza. (Further details are available by Googling “John Wengraf.”). That years, he married my mother, Evelyn Landers, who also emigrated from Vienna to New York.

Growing up in Hollywood and Santa Barbara, I was exposed to opera, ballet, theater, literature, art, museums, and classical music at an early age. I took piano and ballet lessons. As a choral singer from 7th grade until I graduated from college, I performed works by Bach, Handel, Vaughn-Willams, Britten, and Menotti, among others. For two summers while in college, I performed with the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara as member of the opera chorus in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Massenet’s Manon.

After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1966, I was selected for Army Special Services, a job that entailed staging social, theater, tournament, and themed special events for soldiers at Army recreation centers in Germany until 1969. From 1971-1979, I worked at recreation centers at Fort Ord, Calif. In 1979, I took a promotion to serve as director of three Army recreation centers and travel office in Frankfurt, Germany, where I worked for 10 years, first at the military community level, then at headquarters, V Corps.

In 1989, I was selected to serve as director of Department of the Army Recreation Centers worldwide in Alexandria, Virginia. These positions of increasing responsibility required organizational and interpersonal relations skills, creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness, as well as competence in print and broadcast communication. In 1991, I transitioned career fields from recreation to public affairs, establishing and publishing the Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) magazine, Feedback. In 1995, I established the Headquarters MWR Public Affairs Office and served as Chief, Public Affairs, a position I held for 8 years until my retirement in 2003

What I bring to the table with my advocacy for the arts is my experience in writing, editing, marketing, event planning and working with local and national print and broadcast media.

While working for the U.S. Army in Germany (1979-1989), I met Webster (Wis) native Arne Ardell, a civilian working as a youth director for the Army. We were married in 1982. I retired from federal civil service in 2003 and we moved to Webster. In 2004, I established my business, Studio Northwoods, producing handcrafted jewelry as a creative outlet.

Current Member
American for the Arts
Arts Wisconsin
Burnett County Tourism Coalition – Secretary 2013-2015
Wisconsin Northwest Heritage Passage – Secretary/Media Coordinator 2009, 2010, 2013/Board Member 2014-2015
National Park and Recreation Conservation
St. Croix River Association

Past member: Burnett Area Arts Group – President 2009/2010 Burnett Arts Festival Chair 09/10

B.A. English Literature, University of California, Santa Barbara
M.A. Communication, University of Oklahoma off campus program, Washington, DC
2014 Graduate, Rural Arts Management Institute, sponsored by Arts Wisconsin