Brian Jacobson

The Haggerty goes large and complex, then dark and gritty

A new trio of shows is on display, including first showings of selected works from the Tatalovich Collection.

By - Jun 9th, 2012 04:11 pm

On Selections from the Mary and Michael J. Tatalovich Collection

Joan Mitchell, American, 1925 - 1992 Sunflowers II (diptych), 1992 Lithograph 57 1/2 x 82 (Images courtesy the Haggerty Museum)

Shortly before 1 p.m. on a Wednesday at the Haggerty Museum of Art,  director Wally Mason stands, a finger to his lips, contemplating the large Jim Dine lithograph, The Sky in Madison, WI (2004) in the main room.

Richard Serra, American, b. 1939 Bo Diddley, 1999 Gemini G.E.L. (Publisher) Etching 47 1/4 x 47 1/2

I engage him for awhile, surrounded by several large pieces from the Tatalovich’s recently donated collection of 90 large-scale American prints. We discuss the art of art collecting, arcane and inscrutable to me but a field of ongoing engagement for the museum director.

The Tatalovichs were Marquette alumni in the mid-1960s, when they began a 30-year stint teaching in the Milwaukee Public School system — and a lifelong hobby of art collecting.  By the late 1990s, they had accumulated works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Chuck Close, Elizabeth Murray, Joan Mitchell and many other luminaries.

For the pieces chosen from the Tatalovich Collection, they are large and complex.  The prints are often struck with vivid color and deep patterns, as in Frank Stella’s 1999 Stranz.  Even bereft of color, such as Richard Serra’s epic black hole etching, Bo Diddley (1999), it grips you into staring at it further.

Kiki Smith, American, b. 1954 My Blue Lake, 1995 Photogravure and lithograph 43 1/2 x 54 3/4 in

There is much to discuss in these works beyond choice of color and composition, so expect to stay awhile.  My personal favorite is Kiki Smith’s My Blue Lake (1995), a photogravure self-portrait of the feminist artist utilizing a special geological survey camera that took a 360° image. She hand-colored the image as it emerged from the press. It was fascinating to behold as a mystery, intriguing to learn about the artist, and affirming to know how the trick was done.

On NYC July 4, 1981 by Tom Arndt

July 4th, Little Italy, NY 07 Tom Arndt American, b. 1944 July 4th, Little Italy, NY 07, 1981 Gelatin silver print 16 x 20”

Upstairs in the photography gallery,  Minnesota-native documentary photographer Tom Arndt shows a series shot in July 4 night in New York’s Little Italy.  Residents explode fireworks, which light up wet-slicked streets.  You rarely see faces in the photos; the people are often in silhouette. It is the epitome of dark and gritty.

The resemblance to scenes of civil war is unnerving (even without reading the text discussing the parallel of these scenes with Syria or Egypt or Lebanon). Young men stand in action poses after having just lit little bombs.  Bright explosions highlight a street full of debris and scrambling people.   There is a disconnect between the leisurely American celebration it marks and the action taking place in the photos.

On Dusk by Mark Ruwedel

Mark Ruwedel American, b. 1954 Dusk #35 (Antelope Valley #297), 2010 Gold-toned gelatin silver print 8 x 10 in

The small alcove on the first floor that serves as the Haggerty’s third temporary display area. The theme is always tight and often a little creepy.  Perhaps it is the low lighting in this coat room of a gallery.  Perhaps it is the work itself.  In this case, photographer Mark Ruwedel shows gold-toned gelatin silver prints, a technique that brings out the tone and detail but leaves prints very foreboding.

Ruwedel shot a series of deserted homes in the desert.  Their solitary settings and crumbling foundations suggest abandonment. In eight images, half-built or  half-vandalized Southern California homes sit dead center of their frames. Together, they form parallel lines left to right.  Or is it right to left? The sensation is that of  nowhere to go.

The latest show at the Haggerty Museum of Art runs from June 6 – August 5, 2012.  For hours and information on the exhibit, visit their website at

Categories: A/C Feature 3, Art

0 thoughts on “The Haggerty goes large and complex, then dark and gritty”

  1. Anonymous says:

    […] be NYC July 4, 1981 – photographs by Tom Arndt and Dusk by Mark Ruwedel. Learn more from our TCD piece written on the exhibit last month. Michelle […]

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