Editor’s note: Each Monday, the Kenosha News takes a look at the life of a Kenosha County resident who has recently died. We share with you, through the memories of family and friends, a life remembered.
Lois Mogensen was artistically gifted and very kind.
“There was a brilliance about her, said her son, Doug Mogensen.
“She was a model human being,” said her oldest son, Mark Mogensen.
For several decades beginning in the 1970s, Lois became recognized for her prints and etchings ranging from abstracts to realistic renderings of Kemper Center architecture.
Her work was featured in exhibits regionally and nationally, garnering awards and critical acclaim.
“She was considered one of the best Kenosha artists,” said fellow artist and longtime friend, June Pomatto. “Anything she did was always tops.”
Lois attained two art degrees while raising a brood of seven children.
“She was an amazing woman who played so many roles in her life,” said another friend and artist, Carolyn Gagliardi.
Lois Jean Mogensen, 85, of Kenosha, passed away peacefully on Aug. 17. She is survived by her six sons and daughter, Mark (Lisa) Mogensen, Dave (Priscilla) Mogensen, Dr. Tom (Marlene) Mogensen, Marybeth Mogensen, Rick (Kim) Mogensen, Doug (Bonnie) Mogensen, Andy Mogensen; 17 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene in 2013.
Lois was born May 11, 1934 to Arthur and Blanche Lovald in Waukegan, Ill.
When she was young Lois’s family moved to Kenosha and she attended local schools here.
Lois began exploring art as a teen when she assisted her father who worked as a window designer for Barden’s Department store.
“She was known as the class artist in ninth grade,” said June, who met Lois when they were in high school together.
Swimming was another of Lois’ early interests. She was a member of the Bradford High School swim team where she excelled at synchronized swimming.
Lois also swam at Southport Beach. On Sept. 27, 1952 while attending a dance at the beach house, she met Eugene Mogensen who asked her to dance. They began to date, marrying Aug. 29, 1953.
Although she had just begun attending the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Kenosha, she put her art aspirations on hold temporarily to stay home to care for their children.
When the youngest entered school, Lois resumed art with classes taught by the late John Goray and enrolled at UW-Parkside for an art degree.
“She went to Parkside and fell in love with art again,” Mark said.
In particular Lois discovered a passion for etching and printmaking, said her son, Doug.
Lois graduated from Parkside in 1973 and continued her arts education at UW-Milwaukee.
Carolyn says she was impressed by Lois because she took the bus to attend classes in Milwaukee because she didn’t drive. “She focused on her goal because she knew what she wanted.”
With fellowships received in graduate school Lois equipped her home’s basement studio with a Dickerson press and equipment for printmaking.
In the late 1970s she became involved with the Upstairs Downstairs Gallery, which later became Gallery 124, in a house on the grounds of Kemper Center.
Through the medium of etching, Lois often explored architectural perspectives, using Kemper Center as her subject. Several of her large prints were of Kemper’s interior spaces from parlor doors and winding staircases to curtains blowing through open windows.
“She was fascinated with emptiness and shadows; she’d look at the play of light and shadows,” Doug said.
She graduated from U.W. Milwaukee with a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking in 1980.
Although she taught credit and non-credit drawing at UW Parkside and classes at the Kenosha Public Museum, she found that teaching long-term was not what she wanted to do, Mark said.
Living with Lois was intellectually stimulating, said her family, “All of us got an art education every day,” Doug said.
“She loved art and inspired me to get into it in junior high,” said Tom, who became a ceramicist.
After Lois and Eugene became empty-nesters, Eugene got involved with parrots and other birds as a hobby and small side business.
It wasn’t long before their home looked like an aviary, but even the cacophony of macaws didn’t disturb Lois, said her family.
“We joked that after having seven children, you would think they’d want some peace and quiet, but they ended up with a house that was literally filled with birds,” Mark said.
Through it all, Lois continued her artistic endeavors. In the early 2000s Lois turned her hand to geometric designs inspired in part by deck chairs her son Dave had given her. Many of those works feature broad angled stripes of black and white, occasionally accented by brights red lines.
“She was fascinated with lines and colors,” said her son, Tom.
Over the years Lois had several one-woman art shows and participated in national and international juried exhibitions. She received Awards of Excellence from several shows in 2012 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Kenosha’s Anderson Arts Center.
Lois was very modest about her achievements, June said. “Some people get an arrogance when they accomplish as much as she did, I never saw her with an attitude of ‘Look at me; look what I did.’ “
In her tribute to her mother-in-law, Priscilla Mogensen wrote, “Lois raised her children, pursued her education, created her artwork, taught and mentored others in art and did it while always having a smile on her face and never uttering a harsh word to anyone.”