Friday, October 3, 2014

Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin 2014 (with a little Ft Myers Florida in between)

So, I have been residing in Madison for the last four months or so doing mural work for a corporation headquarters there. As I have stated in previous posts, Madison is one interesting place, and when I say Madison I mean the surrounding areas as well. I had a few firsts while there. The day after I arrived a tornado sped through the work site and demolished a farmhouse and building that housed about 8 classic cars throwing them in the field like toys. This was my first view of the true power of a tornado (although I have seen them from a distance a few times in Florida). Above is one view of the scene the next morning.
While there I had the chance to see a Jim Dine exhibition called "I Knew Him." which was pretty much skulls- mostly prints of skulls but also sculpture, photography, painting collage and a mix of all the above. The work shown was from the period between 1982-2000. The exhibition was held at The Chazen Museum which I again highly recommend to anyone visiting the area.
Also of interest in the Chazen's collection is the work of Beth Cavener Stichter. The works in the collection are incredibly beautiful ceramic sculptures that have now gained a little controversy because they are being highlighted in the most recent exhibition at Chazen focusing on ceramics.

Read all about it!

Other really fun things that I did in Madison include going to The Majestic to see The Budos Band with opening act Electric Citizen ( Electric Citizen is a really cool rock band with a crazy chick singer who really knocks it out of the park! See them if you get the chance.)
The Budos Band can hardly be described- you just got to experience it.

The next weeks went by with little excitement except for my nightly viewing of the fireflies emerging at dusk. Then we (Kym O'Donnell and I) took a little trip to Milwaukee. 
The Milwaukee Museum of Art was not our first stop but I want to list things in order of magnitude rather than in chronological order for this part of the post. The main reason I wanted to visit The MMofA was to see the Kandinsky retrospective that was currently up. The exhibition was very well put together, especially strong in its historic emphasis on time lines ( something I've noticed a lot more these days ) and included very strong examples of Kandinsky's work in the different stages of its development to help map out how he became a master of abstract painting and print making.
However, there was one disappointment - The reconstruction of "Private Room" which is a large scale mural that covers four walls of a room left me unimpressed. I just don't like the composition. I looked at it long and hard, walked around it and eh.....
This was created during Kandinsky's involvement with the Bauhaus school when much of his most important works were created. I chalk it up to having student involvement in the project which is clearly shown in the documentation.
Tara Donovan's work in the museum's collection was my surprise favorite. Made of buttons and glue this sculpture made my day. Tara Donovan has since become somewhat of a hero to me as I researched her work and life.

Wayne Thiebaud has always been one of my favorite painters and he is well represented in the museum's collection.

Next we ventured to a mysterious exhibition at the Charles Allis Art Museum called "UNIS- The Origin of the Unicorn" which promised to be an account of a fictional expedition funded by the unicorn obsessed Charles Allis to find proof of the creatures existence. I like the concept because it sounded very much like something The Experimental Skeleton, Inc. group would come up with.
The exhibition was in several parts. Some objects were placed within the museum's collection like artifacts that belong or should disappear and then there was an invitational section where contemporary artists showed their take on the myth of the unicorn. The images I show here are from the contemporary room.
Matt Smiroldo

Nicholaus Arnold "Feel Better"

Michael Kautzer "U is for Uniblock"

I wanted to include my favorite artifact from the museum's regular collection to give a contrast to the objects found in the UNIS exhibition which include costumes, false documents, maps and ephemera.
The exhibition looks like it was a lot of work, and was the brainchild of one Timothy Westbrook of Timothy Westbrook Studios. I gather from looking at his web trail that he is an artist very much focused on fiber arts, costume and performance work. I like the whole feel of the project and what a strange little museum to do it in. I will confess that seeing this show has given me inspiration to make a proposal to another very strange museum ( more on that later ).
 We then walked the Riverwalk which sports a group of public sculptures. Among them is the work by Beth Sahagian Allsopp titled "Acqua Grylli". Meant to be a guardian or gatekeeper to the river this mermaid type mythological figure is perched on the top of an arch which is filled with all kinds of symbolic objects- horseshoe, rabbit's foot, peppers, a hand making the sign to ward of the evil eye, etc.

The crowning work of the Riverwalk- "The Bronze Fonz" by Gerald P. Sawyer
During this time we also flew in to Ft. Myers, Fl to attend the opening of "The Moon Museum" at the Rauschenberg Gallery at Edison State College. The opening of "The Moon Museum" was on a Friday evening and the next day there was to be an artist talk by New York based artist Keith Edmier. We attended both events and had a blast.
On display in the foyer of the gallery temporarily is this painting by Theo Wujcik of Rauschenberg.

The exhibition's purpose was to show one very small object and to frame that object historically. "The Moon Museum" is a ceramic chip normally used by Bell Labs (in the 1960's) to print circuits on. But this is no ordinary ceramic chip, there are six drawings etched on to the chip reproduced from original work by Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, Forrest Myers and Andy Warhol. Furthermore, one of these chips (there were between 16 and 20 made) supposedly made it on to the landing gear of the Apollo 12 mission. This makes "The Moon Museum" arguably the first art object to be sent outside the earths atmosphere.  This is not my first encounter with "The Moon Museum" nor my first post on the subject. Below I have copied my post for the Experimental Skeleton Skeleblog on some musings on art objects/artifacts in space.The original post was titled "Prudes of the Galaxy" and was published on 6/23/2010. 

Dr. Evil isn't the only one sending rude shapes into space!

Are humans the most puritanical life forms in the galaxy? Well, it seems that the space outside our atmosphere is the perfect laboratory for testing this question.

Last week the Tampa Museum of Art began exhibiting an object that, along with others of it's type, disseminate images of human anatomy into the depths of space. The exhibition is the brainchild of independent curator Jade Dellinger and marks the first time Dellinger has worked in collaboration with the new Tampa Museum of Art ( hopefully there will be many more projects to come!)
Although the "Moon Museum" is sited on our closest neighbor and probably of little interest to extraterrestrials it still has the possibility of offending our earthling brothers and sisters.
The "Moon Museum" is a small chip that was supposedly smuggled onto the Apollo 12 mission to the moon. The project was masterminded by Forrest Myers and included himself, John Chamberlain, David Novros, Claes Oldenberg, Robert Rauchenberg and Andy Warhol. Quite a formidable line up of artists. According to most sources this collaborative work of art is most likely still on the Moon surface attached to the landing gear of the lunar module.
This very interesting object and exhibition has captured the imagination of art lovers, tech geeks and the straightlaced. It just so happens that Andy Warhol's contribution to the chip is a drawing of a no-no. The upper left image has been interpreted as a rocket, an "A" and a "W" or most likely an outer space dick drawing. This has some people a little uncomfortable.
It is also of note that people responding to the various articles have weighed in on quality as well. Here are some posts from the article that ran in the Tampa Tribune-

In response and mentioning Rauchenberg's drawing-
"That should give any space visitors a real good first impression of us. The straight line is particularly impressive."

"That's the best we can do? A bunch of stick drawings. The aliens who are on their way here will at least have a good laugh."
Assuming that aliens laugh.

"The weenie doodle is the acme of class."

Many of the original posts have been removed by the staff of the Tampa Tribune to protect the innocent. More prim behavior.

It is interesting that in this old clipping from the time of the stunt (1969) has a thumb covering Warhol's contribution and calls it a signature rather than a drawing.

But wait, that is not the end of the story of human anatomy in space! The next very heady chapter of nude parts in space begins again with the Pioneer program. This time the images were sent into deep space and the message is a "serious" salutation to whatever intelligence may discover the probe. This time scientists and one artist constructed the imagery and again
the prudes got all upset. Linda Salzman Sagan was the artist/writer who created the image on the  Pioneer Plaques to be sent beyond our solar system along with her then husband  astronomer Carl Sagan on the Pioneer deep space probes ( Pioneer 10 and 11) Both plaques were identicle even though the mission flight was different. Linda Salzman Sagan's art was subject to some editing- read this copy of the Wikipedia page-

One can see that the woman's genitals are not really depicted; only the mons veneris is shown. It has been claimed that Sagan, having little time to complete the plaque, suspected that NASA would have rejected a more intricate drawing and therefore made a compromise just to be safe.[2] However, according to Mark Wolverton's more detailed account, the original design included a "short line indicating the woman's vulva."[3] It was erased as condition for approval by John Naugle, former head of NASA's Office of Space Science and the agency's former chief scientist.[4]
But Sagan himself wrote that "The decision to omit a very short line in this diagram was made partly because conventional representation in Greek statuary omits it. But there was another reason: Our desire to see the message successfully launched on Pioneer 10. In retrospect, we may have judged NASA's scientific-political hierarchy as more puritanical than it is. In the many discussions that I held with such officials up to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the President's Science Adviser, not one Victorian demurrer was ever voiced; and a great deal of helpful encouragement was given."
He also commented that "The idea of government censorship of the Pioneer 10 plaque is now so well documented and firmly entrenched that no statement from the designers of the plaque to the contrary can play any role in influencing the prevailing opinion. But we can at least try."

According to astronomer Frank Drake, there were many negative reactions to the plaque because the human beings were displayed naked.[8] The Chicago Sun-Times retouched its image to hide the genitals of the man and woman.
The next imagery that was sent into space was aboard the Voyager mission and was afar more advanced medium. The "Golden Record" was a phonograph record that included sounds of Earth, images, recordings of different languages, etc. alas the prudes won in the last fight. NASA did not include the Sagan's proposal for a nude photograph of a man and women.
From Wikipedia-
After NASA had received criticism over the nudity on the Pioneer plaque (line drawings of a naked man and woman), the agency chose not to allow Sagan and his colleagues to include a photograph of a nude man and woman on the record. Instead, only a silhouette of the couple was included[2].