Who Was Sid Boyum?

Who Was Sid Boyum?

Sid’s Legacy

Sid in a kimono standing in his back yard.

Sid Boyum was a Madison legend, one of those manic Wisconsin folk artists who just can’t help themselves from churning out fascinating, ambitious works of art.  You’ve probably seen his work around town: the Man-Eating Mushroom and Red Dragon along the bike path by the Harmony Bar and Grill, the Polar Bear chair in Elmside Circle Park, the wallowing Hippo in Wirth Court Park.  These were all distributed around the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara neighborhood as part of a previous effort to conserve and publicize his art, after Sid’s death in 1991.

"Man-Eating Mushroom" and "Red Dragon Urn" by Sid Boyum on Madison's east side.
“Man-Eating Mushroom” and “Red Dragon Urn” by Sid Boyum on Madison’s east side.

Since then, they’ve become something of a tourist attraction:  there are maps available of Sid’s publicly displayed works, and many people go on walking tours to see it all.

1987 fishing opener poster
1987 Wisconsin fishing opener poster by Sid Boyum. Image courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society
Sid's home
Sid’s abandoned home on Waubesa Street.

Sid made his living as an industrial photographer. He produced thousands of photographs (including whimsical self­-portraits), drawings, paintings and bas­-relief works. Sid also drew the Wisconsin State Journal’s fishing season opener posters from 1963­-1989.

Sid’s Art Is Endangered

A stack of papers rescued from Sid's home.
A stack of papers rescued from Sid’s home.
Fu Dog sculpture
One of the dozens of concrete sculptures still crowding Sid’s backyard.

After his death, Sid’s home and studio at 237 Waubesa Street sat derelict.  Art still overflowed the property: stacks of paper drawings and graphics throughout the house, bas-­relief sculptures attached to the interior walls, and 12 ­-20 massive concrete sculptures in the backyard.

The entire property and its contents has been forfeited to Dane County for non­payment of back taxes.  We have until September, 2016 to raise $20,000 and acquire the property.  If we fail, the County will sell the property and all of its contents at public auction to the highest bidder.  Sid Boyum’s legacy is unique to Madison. If we are not able to help with the custodianship of these currently undervalued works, then it is likely they will be scattered far and wide with little or no connection to Madison or the Sid Boyum legacy, and no guarantee of public access.

Download a PDF brochure about Sid below: