VIVA Viroqua Independent Visual Artists

First Thursday Artists Reception

Featuring the poetry of Joanne Shird and the walnut ink drawings of Susan Cushing for the Month of September

An artists reception will be Thursday, September 6th from 5:00- 7:00 pm.

This month First Thursday's reception will be followed by a dinner next door at Rooted Spoon.

Susan Cushing

Susan Cushing





Artists Statement

The poetry of Joanne Shird and the walnut ink drawings of Susan Cushing combine to tell the tale of the Old 131 Trail, the central pathway of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Their collaborative work will be unveiled at VIVA Gallery’s First Thursday opening reception on September 6th.

Joanne Adragna Shird’s poetry stems from two life-long loves—writing and her deep affinity with nature. She has spent countless hours out-of-doors, searching for essential meaning in each element and finding the words to describe that essence. When she is able to bring together her love of words and her love of nature, she feels as though she has honored both.

Susan Cushing has hiked, drawn and painted in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve since the 1970s. Her art is her way of sharing some of the beauty that she finds in the land and life around her. If, after viewing her work, you feel compelled to go to fields or forests, to walk, to listen, and perhaps look with new eyes, she feels her drawings have done their work.

The artists have collaborated to describe the Old 131 Trail, or the Old Road, that winds five miles from Rockton to La Farge. The link to the many trails within the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, the Old Road is also a connection to human history from the Ho-Chunk to present-day hikers, and to all of the natural life that abounds in the area. In many, it forms a deep spiritual bond. Susan chose to use walnut ink for her images and hand-made walnut frames, to make a visual and physical link to her subject matter. The drawings and poems share a small part of what the two artists have experienced as they have walked the Old Road, and become one with the land.

September 6th at Rooted Spoon for 1st Thursday: Ethiopia


TO START - Lentil Samoosa & Carrot Chutney:  fried pastries filled w/ spicy green lentils, onions, & peppers & served w/ carrot ginger chutney & salad (GF alternative available by advanced request)


Injera:  fermented teff flour flatbread

Timatim Salata: local tomato/onion salad

Tikil Gomen: potatoes, carrots, & cabbage w/ ginger, turmeric, & green chiles

Yekik Alicha: turmeric yellow split peas

Ye'abesha Gomen: sauteed collard greens

Curried Rice

Beef Tibs - Organic Prairie steak sauteed w/ onions, tomatoes, peppers, & berbere spices      

DESSERT - Pasti & Mango Granita:  Ethiopian fried donuts w/ mango coconut milk granita;  served w/ Kickapoo Coffee or mint tea

As usual, please make reservations by emailing dani@rootedspoon.com or by calling (608) 632-2120. Doors and cash bar (with some wine specials and cocktails to compliment the menu, of course) open at 5:30 p.m. for the VIVA Gallery open house next door. Dinner at 7:00 p.m. Family-style seating is first come, first serve. But, if you have a group of 4-6 or more, we’ll happily reserve a table for your group, if requested when making your reservation. The meal is $25, not including tax or gratuity.
Seating is limited, so PLEASE let us know at least a day ahead of time if you need to cancel your reservation, so we have time to give your seat to someone else.
***Please let me know in advance if you are in need of a vegetarian or gluten-free meal.***

Upcoming Guest Artists


August- current artist- Pete Sandker- watercolor

October- Elliot Medow

November and December- Artisan Market for the holidays featuring local artists along with Viva members



Jan - VIVA themed artists
Feb - Salem Minegar- ink, collage
March - Mike Lind -paintings
April - People’s Choice award Driftless Area Art Festival
May - Winding Road Tour artists
June - Natalie Hinahara - prints/paintings
July -
August - Karen Innis-sculpture
Sept -
Oct -
Nov/Dec - Holiday Artisans