On Nature: Five Wisconsin Artists

By Abigail M. Wolfe North Exhibition Gallery, Milwaukee Art Museum

What better place for Wisconsin hat better place for Wisconsin artists to exhibit their work than artists to exhibit their work than WMilwaukee’s proudest artistic addition, the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum? The nature-oriented works being displayed at the “On Nature: Five Wisconsin Artists” show prompts viewers to investigate the relationship between human beings and nature and explores the ways humans interact with our biological environment. Lane Hall and Lisa Moline’s Giant SpiderWith a unique medium as her “canvas,” quilt maker Teresa Agnew illustrates illustrates human encroachment on nature using embroidery thread, involved planning, and seemingly endless patience, since each quilt takes one to three years to complete. The bird’s-eye-view angle employed in much of her work allows Agnew’s audience to take a collective look at the sometimes blatant disregard humans have for the subtle heartbeat of the natural world. “Dona Look’s white birch bark baskets depict a fusion of Native American spirituality and modern Scandinavian design,” says the Milwaukee Art Museum of these pieces’ organic shapes and austere exteriors. Look’s artistry focuses on making the most of the bark’s natural patterns, resulting in a celebration of sophisticated form following primitive function. Dick and Jane surrounded by giant ants? Flies and polka dots swarming on a brightly colored scarf? Bugs in your rugs? Nancy Mladenoff’s fabric paintings shine a new light on the things that go buzz in the night. Focusing on summer’s ubiquitous creepycrawlies, these insect renderings may make you run for your fly swatter. The woodworking and cabinet making professions exalt wood’s glorious patterns and colors by creating usable art. Artisan Charles Radtke worships at wood’s shrine, capitalizing on the innate shades and textures of certain woods and nurturing them into sublime furniture. Lane Hall and Lisa Moline, who did the Woodland Pattern “Live for Less” mural, work together to create site-specific installations. Large-scale computer laser prints translated one entire wall of the gallery into a study of a hair-raising spider’s old skin. They have also added their signature prints to the Pavilion’s east walkway by lining its walls with black and white prints of deer entrails. These layouts illustrate the multifaceted connections and compromises between nature and technology. The “On Nature: Five Wisconsin Artists” exhibit will close Sunday September 1, and is free with general museum admission. For more information, visit Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 6 – July 2002