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.
On Selections from the Mary and Michael J. Tatalovich Collection
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.
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.
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
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
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 www.marquette.edu/haggerty