About Wisconsin Northwest Heritage Passage
Wisconsin’s Northwest Heritage Passage has been recognized for its advocacy, vision and support of the creative economy of northwest Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s Northwest Heritage Passage (WHNP) was born in the summer of 1999, when a small group of individuals inspired by the tourism guidebook,The Craft Heritage Trails of Western North Carolina, had a vision to publish something similar for northwest Wisconsin.
The Passage founders believed that people interested in arts and crafts would enjoy learning more about what products were available in the region, how they were created and who were the people who created them.
The first map was published in 2001, with expanded second and third editions following in 2003 and 2009. In total more than 75,000 maps were distributed to tourism offices throughout northwest Wisconsin. In November 2001, the Passage was recognized as one of the Ten Top Development Initiatives by Wisconsin’s Rural Partners. In 2004, the Passage received a “Wisconsin Trailblazer Award.”
In 2009, the Passage board envisioned publishing a book similar to the North Carolina guide that inspired the Passage’s founding. The guide was titled The Wisconsin Passage; An Adventure in the Handmade, Homegrown and Historical offerings of Wisconsin from the Mississippi River to Lake Superior. Researched, assembled and written entirely by volunteers under the direction of Alene Peterson and Janet Krokson, the book was published in 2011.
In 2013, the Passage opened a gallery called Arts in Hand, fulfilling its mission to support and showcase the work of northwest Wisconsin artists and fine crafters.This first gallery was located in downtown Spooner, behind a quilt shop that had a storefront on Walnut Street. Staffed by volunteer artists, this created another opportunity for customers to meet the people who created the art.
In 2014, a storefront at the corner of Walnut Street and State Highway 63 became available when a tavern closed. Thanks to the building’s local owners who recognized the value of the arts for the downtown economy, the WNHP board was able to secure the site and moved the gallery to its present location at 210 Walnut Street where it opened in May 2015.
By the summer of 2021, Arts in Hand Gallery had grown to be a favorite stopping place for tourists and local shoppers alike. The original concept of staffing the gallery with volunteers has continued. Since most of the volunteers are artists, customers have an opportunity to not only meet the people who create the art but to learn more about the creative process.
In the summer of 2021 many changes were made to the Gallery including a new branding ID and fresh new storefront.
Below is the current Board of Directors. Board members are elected at the annual general membership meeting held each October. They are volunteers who help promote the organization, make financial decisions, and guide the direction of the organization.
President and Treasurer
Lori Krings is a former customer service leader who worked for Xcel Energy in Eau Claire, WI for over three decades. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Cardinal Stritch University as well as a certificate in Human Resource Management. Throughout her career, Lori has supported various non-profit organizations in her community, such as United Way, Feed My People and Literacy Chippewa Valley. She served as a tutor as well as on the board of the latter, helping to improve the literacy skills of adults and families. Since retiring in 2021, she has moved to Minong, Wisconsin and volunteered for the Wisconsin Northwest Heritage Passage, the Arts in Hand Gallery and the Washburn County’s Neighbor to Neighbor organization. Lori is an avid supporter and promoter of the visual arts in northwest Wisconsin.
Jeneice Ginter Haessig retired from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (now Northwood Technical College) in 2017. There she worked in Human Resources and later as the Foundation Representative at the Rice Lake campus. Jeneice and her husband David are woodworkers, and their business is DHH designs. .Over the past 40+ years, they have designed, created and sold their work at art fairs all around the country. Several galleries carry their work including Arts in Hand Gallery in Spooner. She and David volunteered as the directors of the Shell Lake Art Festival for 18 years. Jeneice served on art boards in Dane County when they lived in Madison, 30 years ago. In the Northwoods, she volunteers at Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary and serves on the board for Wisconsin Northwest Heritage Passage.