The Warehouse Art Museum
Press Release

“Rediscovering Ruth Grotenrath: All Things Belong To This Earth” Opens at the Warehouse Art Museum on Jan. 13, 2023

Exhibition celebrates the renowned artist’s 50-year career with over 90 works of art

By - Dec 16th, 2022 10:01 am
Ruth Grotenrath. Mango and Tiles, ca. 1970. Screenprint. Photographed by Avery Pelekoudas. Courtesy of The Warehouse Art Museum.

Ruth Grotenrath. Mango and Tiles, ca. 1970. Screenprint. Photographed by Avery Pelekoudas. Courtesy of The Warehouse Art Museum.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – (Dec. 15, 2022) – The Warehouse Art Museum (WAM) will open the first-ever major solo Ruth Grotenrath retrospective on January 13, 2023. This large-scale exhibition will highlight her long, productive and award-winning career.

Grotenrath (1912-1988) excelled at art early, produced murals during the WPA era, went on to embrace Modernism and developed a bold, personal style.

“Rediscovering Ruth Grotenrath: All Things Belong To This Earth” will feature never-before-seen artworks in a wide range of media. These are shown alongside award-winning paintings and prints that cover her over 50-year career.

After several decades of showing alongside her husband, fellow artist Schomer Lichtner (1905–2006), this will be the first major exhibition to focus solely on Grotenrath’s life and artistic practice.

From a young age Grotenrath, who was born in Milwaukee and lived in the area during her life, was not only drawn to the visual arts but also excelled during an era of male dominance. Despite the competition, she won purchase prizes and awards in juried exhibitions across the country and painted murals throughout the Midwest. Then, influenced by European movements and a love of Japanese art and culture, she became an intuitive textile designer and painter inspired by the natural world.

As Dean Sobel, former Milwaukee Art Museum curator has written: “The paintings of Ruth Grotenrath…are lively colorful, cheerful, warm, and composed. Ruth found beauty in everything around her.”

The exhibition includes casual sketches in a range of mediums from Grotenrath’s student days, innovative still-lifes and bold ceramics. She is further contextualized through newly discovered photographs of Grotenrath by the artist Jan Serr.

Grotenrath’s expansive body of work can be found in every major Wisconsin art museum. She is also represented in numerous private collections and in several museums across the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Richmond Museum of Art (Virginia), and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia).

This exhibition and all programming events are free of charge and open to the public. The exhibit runs through March 31, 2023.


Associated Programming

WAM will be offering a series of programs, lectures and curator-led tours, and a major new publication on Ruth Grotenrath.

Events include:

  • Kay Wells, Professor of American Art at UWM, discussing prominent women artists of the 20th century on February 23.
  • Martha Chaiklin, scholar and former curator of Asian Art at the Milwaukee Public Museum,speaking on Japonisme on March 2. The talk will include reflections from Grotenrath’s Japan travel diary.
  • Jackie Schweitzer, MPM Collection Manager, art historian, and author presenting on WPA projects in Wisconsin on March 9.

In conjunction with the exhibition, WAM will publish a catalogue with new research on Ruth Grotenrath in essays by Annemarie Sawkins and John Shannon. This full-color catalogue, designed by Jena Sher, will feature newly discovered art by Grotenrath along with new information on her textile and ceramics and a new reading of her experiences in Japan.

Check the WAM website for artists, dates, and times:


Guest Curator – Annemarie Sawkins, PhD

Annemarie Sawkins, PhD is a Milwaukee-based-curator, art historian, and recent co-producer of A Creative Place: The History of Wisconsin Art (2021) and author/curator of In the Park with

Olmsted: A Vision for Milwaukee at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. Previous exhibitions at the Warehouse Art Museum include On the Nature of Wisconsin (2020) and Art Japan 2021–1921 (2021). Her traveling exhibitions include Afghan War Rugs: The Modern Art of Central Asia (2014), Kogyo: Japanese Woodblock Prints (2021) for the Warehouse Art Museum, and nevertheless, she persisted: Prints by Modern and Contemporary Woman Artists (2018). From 1999 to 2012, she was curator at the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University.


Exhibition Dates

“Rediscovering Ruth Grotenrath: All things belong to this earth”

January 13 – March 31, 2023


Warehouse Art Museum | WAM – Background and Visitor Information

WAM is a private art museum specializing in modern and contemporary art that opened to the public in 2018. The permanent collection of over 7,000 works is international in scope while remaining personal at the same time, based on the vision of collectors Jan Serr & John Shannon. Dominant themes include figurative works, self-portraits, photography, monotypes, contemporary studio craft, and modern and contemporary Japanese art.

1635 W St Paul Ave | Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Free and open to the public M-F | 10-4pm

Phone:  414.252.0677 x110




NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

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“Rediscovering Ruth Grotenrath: All Things Belong To This Earth” Opens at the Warehouse Art Museum on Jan. 13, 2023

Exhibition celebrates the renowned artist’s 50-year career with over 90 works of art

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