Mayor’s Purchase Award granted for a portrait of activist, leader, & public servant Dick Wagner
City of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway selected a portrait of Dick Wagner by Rae Senarighi, aka Transpainter, for the 2022 Mayor’s Purchase Award. The purchase of the work honors beloved gay rights activist, community leader, and public servant, Dick Wagner. Wagner worked for the State of Wisconsin for 33 years, and was the first openly gay member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, including four years as the first openly gay county board chair in Wisconsin. Dick paved the way for generations of LGBTQ politicians, activists, and public figures in Wisconsin. He passed away on December 13, 2021.
In Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway’s public statement about the death of Dick Wagner she stated, “Dick Wagner was a Madison icon, a true public servant, and a pillar of our community. His impact spanned decades and he will be deeply missed.” She went on to say, “He was an outstanding leader in the LGBTQ community, and a personal inspiration for me. As the first openly gay member of the Dane County Board, elected in 1980, he was a trailblazer and a mentor for many. He was a respected historian, and wrote two books on Wisconsin’s LGBTQ history, ensuring that our stories will be told for years to come.” The Mayor also enumerated some of the many contributions Dick made to the City of Madison, serving on numerous City committees including the Urban Design, Plan, and Landmarks Commissions. He has most recently been instrumental in the expansion of Olbrich Gardens.
Our Lives Magazine commissioned Rae Senarighi, aka Transpainter, to paint a portrait of the dexterous, public servant, Dick Wagner for their March/April 2022 issue. Although Rae’s work typically centers on representations of transgender artists, activists, and leaders, he happily accepted the offer to commemorate the important activist and community member. The Mayor’s purchase of the portrait was underwritten with generous funding from a group of Madison residents who admired and respected Dick and all he did for the community. Local art collectors Rodney Schreiner and Mark Blank championed the effort and provided the lead gift for the purchase from their fund at the Madison Community Foundation.