‘Goose Lake—Wintering Over’ Captures the Beauty of a Wisconsin Winter


Goose Lake in Adams County, Wisconsin takes center stage at the Steinhauer Trust Gallery in the UW-Madison Visitor Center through December 28. Madison photographer John Riggs chronicles in photographs and text the solitary winter he spent in a cabin on the lake.

“Everybody has their summer cabins, but most who do don’t spend much time (if any) here in the off season,” says Riggs. “They miss what I consider by far the most beautiful time of year. Which is, of course, exactly the way I like it.”

Large panoramic images capture pristine and evocative landscapes in the early morning and late evening light when Riggs was out skiing. Barren trees and grasses wrapped in winter fog highlight the beauty and quiet stillness of a season when nature slows down and is at rest.

The images reflect the period of introspection that Riggs writes about and displays with his photos.

“Goose Lake took me in and folded her feral arms around me like a long lost grandmother,” Riggs says. “Winter and the storms of the world would rage without, but within this wild place I could fall back into a feather bed of warmth and safety, to regroup.”

John Riggs took up photography in the ‘60s and ‘70s and exhibited in various galleries in the Midwest. The next several decades were spent as a community organizer, stone mason, engineer and businessman. He returned to photography in 2007 and later in November will open Tamarack Studio and Gallery on Madison’s east side.

Located in the Arboretum Visitor Center, 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison, the Steinhauer Gallery is open during regular Visitor Center hours – 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 12:30 to 4 p.m. weekends.

The gallery has a two-fold purpose—to celebrate Wisconsin’s natural heritage and the human connection to the land through the visual arts, and to showcase the creativity and talent of artists who draw their inspiration from nature. Most items on exhibit are for sale. Those interested in purchasing are asked to contact the artist. Profits from sales support Arboretum projects.

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.