Annie Raab
Monthly Art Guide

Milwaukee Art Museum Show a Must See

New column previews the month's top visual arts exhibits.

By - May 6th, 2024 04:48 pm
Julia Margaret Cameron, “I Wait”, 1872. Albumen print © The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund. Museum no. RPS.1297-2017

Julia Margaret Cameron, “I Wait”, 1872. Albumen print © The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund. Museum no. RPS.1297-2017

In a month with several interesting art exhibits in town, the Milwaukee Art Museum will present the work of photographer Julia Margaret Cameron in a show that is touring the world but only coming to one Midwest city: Milwaukee. It’s the highlight of the month, but there are other exhibits also worth checking out. The list:

Milwaukee Art Museum

Julia Margaret Cameron: Arresting Beauty

May 3 to July 28. Open Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thu. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

700 N. Art Museum Dr., at the lakefront

In 1863, when she was 48, Cameron was gifted a camera and instructions to fill her solitary days on the Isle of Wight with this new amusement. Her amateur practice quickly evolved into proficiency. She produced images that captured both the intellectual energy in her community and her own deeply held religious values in a body of work that includes portraits of familiar luminaries and allegorical storytelling. Critics condemned her alleged lack of technical ability, and disparaged her on the basis of her gender, but today she is widely considered one of the most influential Victorian photographers in the medium’s history.

The exhibition travels from Paris to Milwaukee to New York City, and when you think about all the fine art destinations, large and small, in between these locations, Arresting Beauty stands out as an absolute must see. An exhibition like this may not happen again in your lifetime.

Portrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art

Oscar Gruber and Mathew Gruber: Persistent Practice

Through May 11. Open Thursday-Saturday, 12 to 5p.m.

207 E. Buffalo St., #526

Oscar Gruber (1897-1987) spent a decade in the 50s and 60s attending to his portraiture practice at the Art Students League in New York City. During the course of hundreds of weekly 3-hour sessions, Gruber produced a portfolio that held a mirror up to midcentury life in New York City. These portraits line the gallery in an impressive wall-to-wall installation. Oscar’s son, Mathew Gruber (1924-2024) is featured in a nearby rooms. Mathew was among the early automaton engineers in the 1950s whose most recognizable contribution is an automatic Howdy Doody puppet duplicate with moving limbs and a hand-painted plaid getup. Works from the father and the son can be viewed together, memorializing a unique conversation in modernist portraiture in a show that is in its last week.

Real Tinsel

Eric Ashcraft and Brian Hubble, with Jonathan Ellis, Madison Sternig, and Evan Stoler: Poseur II

Through May 25. Open noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

1013 W. Historic Mitchell St.

Eric Ashcraft and Brian Hubble struggle with imposter syndrome. Nothing unusual, maybe, but it appears easy for both artists to laugh at themselves by imbuing their work with absurd and humorous imagery. The artists met in Chicago as Ashcraft was departing and Hubble was entering the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They frequently show work in their homebase, Brooklyn, and maintain collaborative practices with their respective contemporaries. This group show openly wonders about who gets to feel comfortable in the nebulous art world, why do we need to be so polite within it, and is there still room for tongue-and-cheek prodding? Expect playful compositions that demonstrate a range of techniques and artistic decisions.

Matthew Presutti - Negative Capability exhibition. Photo courtesy of Grove Gallery.

Matthew Presutti – Negative Capability exhibition. Photo courtesy of Grove Gallery.

Grove Gallery

Matthew Presutti: Negative Capability

Through May 31. Open 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and weekdays by appointment

832 S. 5th St.

In Matthew Presutti’s first solo exhibition in Milwaukee, we are presented with works from a series of handprinted photopolymer gravures captured with a 4×5 camera and transferred to handmade hemp paper. Presutti, who hails from the part of the Appalachian Mountains that graze southern Ohio, applies a long exposure technique to create images that capture time in eerie stillness or in streaking movement. Indeed, his origins may have shaped his thesis and medium, as the Appalachian region maintains a primordial link to the earliest earthly formations. Old school photography can mirror that kind of magic, and each image invites contemplation of familiar landscapes rendered into liminality and called forth into the present from deep inside history, preserved for us by the artist’s hand and eye.

The Alice Wilds

Keith Nelson: Miscellaneous Jawns

Through June 8. Open Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

900 S. 5th St., #102

Artist, studio developer, and Real Tinsel co-owner Kieth Nelson employs an intentionally vague exhibition title to accompany his mixed media “jawns” on the walls and as freestanding objects at The Alice Wilds. Somewhere between painting, sculpture, and found object assemblage, these works reflect the artist’s philosophy that beauty is a subjective matter that can be elevated in the banal and infused with conceptual inquiries given the right balance between formal approach and personal amusement.

Scout Gallery

Group exhibitions by 70+ Milwaukee-area artists: Go Wild! 2 – A Study Of Plants And Animals

May 17 through June 30. Check website for days and hours open.

2625 S. Greeley St., #110, in the Hide House.

Scout Gallery, located in Bay View, opens Go Wild! 2 before the first Bay View Gallery Night of 2024. The space is small, but energetic, leaving you with plenty of options to attend on a quiet evening or join the enthusiasm built into either the official opening (5-8 p.m. on May 17) or on gallery night. Founded in 2019 by Dana and Jeff Redmon, Scout Gallery’s enduring mission is to make art collecting accessible and affordable for the collector, and gainful for the gallery and the artist. It’s a lovely model of creative symbiosis. The show coincides with Scout’s 5-year anniversary and features artists Beata Krezalek (tattoo artist with a fine line style), Jimmy Zenisek (tireless advocate for hot pink), Ross Severson (segmented half-tone abstracts) and Karen Williams-Brusubardis (colorblindness test-style landscapes). With 70+ artists on the bill, the show is sure to be abundant.

Annie Raab has been writing about art since 2014 for print and online publications. She lives in Milwaukee.

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2 thoughts on “Monthly Art Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum Show a Must See”

  1. blurondo says:

    What a wonderful addition to UM.

  2. meganwh says:

    Hi Annie – Hope you get over to Villa Terrace to see Dyed Well, and to Charles Allis to see Screen Time before it leaves. Great shows! 🙂

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