Brett Lipshutz explores art through music at the Haggerty Museum
The museum's musician-in-residence will perform an experimental concert Wednesday, featuring pieces selected or composed in response to their permanent collection.
You can see an art museum hiring an artist-in-residence. But a musician-in-residence? That’s something a little different.
Brett Lipshutz is that musician-in-residence for the Haggerty Museum of Art, located on Marquette University’s campus. Wednesday, Nov. 6, he’ll show patrons what he’s there for, with an experimental concert that explores the connection between visual art and sound.
“I’ve always been enthralled by whether a melody can evoke a shape in someone’s mind,” Lipshutz said. “Could I play a circle?”
Joining the Haggerty was actually Lipshutz’s idea. The Milwaukee-based flute, whistle and bombarde player proposed the idea to the Haggerty, and curator of education Lynne Shumow said the museum was glad to try out the program.
“Our main focus here is education,” Shumow said. “We are truly an academic art museum, and what is truly important to us is using art to enrich the learning experience of Marquette students.”
During the concert Wednesday, Lipshutz will move from gallery to gallery, performing pieces selected or composed in reaction to the works in the museum’s permanent collection, which he studied over the summer. He’ll be playing pieces by artists including J.S. Bach, Paul Hindemith, Georg Philipp Telemann and Eugène Bozza, as well as two collaborative pieces with Marquette students Daniel Flesch and Maggie Butler, which were developed over that summer residency.
Lipshutz is a rare musician as he plays the relatively uncommon Baroque flute, a wooden flute that only has one key. “My residency with the museum gave me the chance to promote an instrument that people don’t really get to see very often,” Lipshutz said. “Because of the timbre of the instrument, you can do all types of tone colors and shadings, which I think can allow me to use palliative sounds to create these paintings just as a painter does.”
On top of his work at the Haggerty Museum, Lipshutz plays with the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble and has co-founded the Wisconsin Baroque Musicians Collective. But his career extends beyond just music: He also participates in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Arts in Community Education program, and is a French teacher at University School of Milwaukee in River Hills.
Lipshutz said his passion for education has motivated him to experiment with the connections between visual art and music.
“Twenty-first [century] teaching is all about critical thinking and creativity,” Lipshutz said. “What we’re doing here is reflecting the best practice of teaching everywhere.”
During his time with the Haggerty, Lipshutz had additional teaching opportunities, through improvisation sessions held with various Marquette students, none of whom study fine arts or music.
“Marquette does not have a fine arts department, so we have a unique position here,” Shumow said. “We are working with students who are studying things other than art. We want to incorporate art truly across curriculum.”
Having Lipshutz makes that easier – giving the Haggerty a new and different way to present the works in their collection.
“It’s about looking and thinking about what you’re seeing,” Shumow said. “We would like to step back and look at things in a different way.”
“It’s about teaching about images through music — but also music through images,” Lipshutz added.
Brett Lipshutz will perform at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Haggerty Museum of Art on the campus of Marquette University. The concert is free and open to the public.