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Steve Winistorfer ’83, MS’85, MS’95
State Street is known for its colorful characters, and many have become very familiar to the UW and larger Madison communities. One such character was Art Nesson, known more commonly as “Art the Window Washer.” Art wasn’t always a window washer — at one point he was a dishwasher, and he also did occasional odd jobs for State Street proprietors — but during his later years, he always had a bucket, some dirty newspaper, and a squeegee on hand to perform his trademark occupation on State Street. He seemed to migrate along the blocks of State Street, but he often set up shop on the stoops of houses surrounding State Street, and where Gorham becomes University Avenue. Art’s window washing afforded him a beverage or a few dollars from State Street merchants and other passersby, and in a 1979 Badger yearbook article, he said he was satisfied with his life. “What is Art? … Art is a window washer on State Street” T-shirts — a familiar sight among UW students and Madisonians alike from the 1960s through the 1980s — served to heighten and enhance this window washer’s fame. According to the obituary published in the Wisconsin State Journal, Art was born in Madison on August 9, 1937, and he died in Madison in April 1982 at the age of 44. Before becoming a State Street legend, he served in the army from 1957 to 1960. Art was survived by both of his parents, a brother, two sisters, and a number of nieces and nephews. J.J. Sedelmaier ’78, an art major, got a close-up look at Art’s life when he created this film in 1977: "Art Film" 1977 Madison WI from J.J. Sedelmaier on Vimeo.

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