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Magnetic North: The Landscapes of Tom Uttech

July 10 ­ October 3, 2004


This summer, the Milwaukee Art Museum features the work of one of the most widely admired landscape painters in America. Magnetic North: The Landscapes of Tom Uttech, on view July 10 - October 3, 2004, presents a survey of more than 30 years of Uttech's art. The exhibition includes 60 of Uttech's paintings and 30 photographs spanning the past three decades. Tom Uttech reestablishes the wilderness as a mystical place where the animal kingdom reigns, the colors of nature flourish and the various forces of nature are played out. (right: Tom Uttech, Bimawanidiwag Awessiiag, 1996. oil on canvas. Lent by Ruth Mutch, Sheridan, WY.)

"Uttech merges 19th-century notions of the ideal landscape with aspects of surrealism and photo-realism to create his unique vision of the North Woods," said David Gordon, Milwaukee Art Museum director and CEO. "Summer visitors are sure to enjoy this immersion in nature, unexpectedly inside the Milwaukee Art Museum's galleries."

Uttech is inspired by the prairie and northern woods of Wisconsin, and his numerous camping and canoeing trips to northern Minnesota and Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. The exhibition is being presented by the Milwaukee Art Museum and We Energies as part of "A Celebration of Nature," which also includes the exhibition Judy Pfaff - Gregory Conniff: Camera and Ink on view May 21 - August 29, 2004.

Uttech's painting process is different from many contemporary landscape artists' in that he does no preparatory drawings, studies or photographs while on his nature excursions. Rather, his paintings are translations onto canvas of his emotional response to the experience of being in these environments. Through this intuitive process, Uttech's innate understanding of and unique connection to nature is revealed. The intricate detail achieved by the artist's precise painterly touch brings alive the sounds, smells and atmosphere of the places depicted in the paintings. For the viewer, this sensation is as palpable in Uttech's small paintings as it is in his 10-foot canvases.(right: Tom Uttech, Nin Mamakadenima, 2002-2003. oil on canvas. Lent by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur S. Pier, New York.)

In addition to paintings, the exhibition also features a selection of photographs by the artist, many of which have never before been shown. Although they depict the same subject matter, the photographs are quite separate from the seemingly airless environments in the paintings. Shot in black and white, many first appear to be abstract compositions which, upon closer inspection, reveal themselves to be moss growing on a rock's surface, or a random pile of fallen twigs and branches. In both the paintings and the photographs, the viewer is placed in the role of observer, fortunate enough to get a glimpse into these magnificently unspoiled environments.


Environmental Ties

Tom Uttech has long been an advocate of environmental responsibility and a participant in watchdog conservation groups concerned with land development and other issues. He is also an ornithology expert who holds records in bird identification. His work is a reflection of his close ties to nature.


Organization and Publication

Magnetic North: The Landscapes of Tom Uttech is organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and curated by Margaret Andera, curator. A full-color catalogue accompanies the exhibition and features an essay by Lucy Lippard.


Other Summer Exhibits

Judy Pfaff - Gregory Conniff: Camera and Ink
May 21 ­ August 29
Koss Gallery
Judy Pfaff - Gregory Conniff: Camera and Ink features a selection of recent prints by Judy Pfaff, a multi-media artist based in New York, and Gregory Conniff, a photographer based in Madison. Both artists explore the beauty and mystery of nature with the camera and make prints using ink-based methods, yet Pfaff's work is categorized as printmaking and Conniff's as photography. The exhibition allows visitors to immerse themselves in lush, rich imagery while provoking thought on the sometimes arbitrary distinctions that are drawn between the two media.
This exhibition is organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and curated by Sarah Kirk, assistant curator of prints, drawings and photographs. It is sponsored by We Energies as part of the "Celebration of Nature" at the Milwaukee Art Museum, featuring Magnetic North: The Landscapes of Tom Uttech, July 10 - September 6, 2004.
Currents 31: Robert Melee
June 18 - September 19, 2004
Cudahy Gallery
Currents is an ongoing series at the Milwaukee Art Museum that features the work of contemporary artists. Robert Melee's work incorporates film, video, photography, painting and sculpture in his elaborate mock suburban installations. For Currents 31, Melee transforms the Cudahy Gallery into an interior of a suburban home, complete with fake wood paneling and furniture wall units, filled with family memorabilia, brightly colored wall sculptures and paintings.
Melee's work, while seemingly reproducing the mundane nature of a certain kind of working-class suburban experience, actually turns reality on it's head, offering a sensationalistic and gleefully artificial vision which can only be mistaken for reality in the same way that "reality TV" can.
The exhibition is organized and curated by Stefano Basilico, adjunct curator of contemporary art.
Byrdcliffe: An American Arts and Crafts Colony
June 25 ­ September 19, 2004
Decorative Arts Gallery
Byrdcliffe: An American Arts and Crafts Colony honors the centennial of Byrdcliffe, the colony founded as a center for artists and craftsmen in Woodstock, NY, in 1902-'03. The colony was started by Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, a wealthy British disciple of John Ruskin and William Morris, who was determined to make his mentors' utopian vision of an arts and crafts colony a reality. The furniture, textiles, metalwork, ceramics, paintings and photographs made by the artists of Byrdcliffe are examined within the context of the creative Woodstock community. The examination is completed through the architecture, literature, poetry and folk music created by those that lived or visited the colony.
The exhibition is organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University and is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts, the Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and Furthermore, a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund. The exhibition is coordinated by Glenn Adamson, curator of the Chipstone Foundation and MAM adjunct curator.

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Copyright 2003, 2004 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.