Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Last week I returned to the Museum of Wisconsin Art, located in West Bend, about 40 miles northwest of Milwaukee.  It has an unusual (for me at least) admission policy.  You must be a member to visit the museum, but membership is only $12 annually, which entitles you to an unlimited number of visits, so it's actually a bargain.  Turns out it had been 18 months since I had been to the museum, so I had to pony up.

The museum has two attractions for a photographer.  The facility has some striking architectural features.  This is a relatively small museum, so the architecture has to work harder to be interesting.  The other attraction, of course, is the collection including special exhibits.  By now I am pretty familiar with the permanent collection--not much new there--but I was pleased with a special exhibit that is now running.  More below.

The building has one interesting architectural feature.  It is a long narrow structure that comes to a remarkably sharp point.

I have shot this feature in the past.  However, these shots are more dramatic because this time I could take full advantage of my 24-120 mm lens with the full frame sensor camera I now have.  What that means is that I could get much closer to the structure and still bring in the entire edge.  As a result, the perspective lines are much more dramatic.

The interior of this pointy feature basically consists of a stairway, which I shot as a black & white semi-abstract.

The largest, and perhaps most notable painting in the permanent collection is a truly massive painting of religious self-flagellants (really).

It is difficult to convey how large this painting is.  My guess is that it is perhaps 12 x 20 ft., so large that the ceiling above the painting had to be raised about a foot to accommodate the work.  The subject matter is quite dramatic, aided by the emotions shown on the faces of the figures in the painting.

I was also taken by a painting of intertwining snakes.  Here are a couple of takes of that work, including a closeup.

Like most museums, MOWA's permanent collection includes many more pieces than the facility has room for displaying, so pieces are regularly rotated in and out of the display areas.  Here are a few paintings that I think are part of the permanent collection but that I have not seen on previous visits.

Although the antelope (?) skulls piece isn't great in my view, I was quite taken with the other two.

The special exhibit on display during my visit was a collection of works by Fred Stonehouse.  The somewhat macabre element in a number of these paintings ver much caught my eye.

One wall included a montage of smaller works.

Here are a couple of pieces in that montage.

Like I said, macabre.

And here are a couple of other Stonehouse pieces that were displayed separately.   Perhaps not macabre but certainly bizarre.


1 comment:

  1. Great pictures. Looks like it was worth the "pony" up.