The James Watrous Gallery is a place to explore and learn about art from Wisconsin. Our focus is sharing the work of Wisconsin artists past and present and investigating ideas at the intersection of the sciences, arts, and letters. Solo exhibits present a significant body of artwork by a single artist, while our curated shows often draw connections between art and other disciplines. We strive to create a welcoming environment that encourages engagement and inquiry.
New Midwest Photography
FRI, SEP 7 – SUN, OCT 28, 2018
New Midwest Photography presents the work of ten artists who use their cameras to make sense of the people and places that inspire them, blending personal observation and regional knowledge to produce photography that uniquely reflects this place. Curated by Andy Adams of FlakPhoto Projects, it includes work by Clarissa Bonet (Chicago), Jess T. Dugan (St. Louis), Tytia Habing (Watson, IL), Jon Horvath (Milwaukee), Julie Renee Jones (Dayton, OH), Dave Jordano (Chicago), Nathan Pearce (Fairfield, IL), Barry Phipps (Iowa City), Jason Vaughn (Milwaukee), and Lindley Warren (Iowa City). Join us at the opening reception on September 7 to meet Adams and several of the artists. Afterwards, we’ll stroll over to Madison Public Library’s BUBBLER to hear Barry Phipps discuss his new book of Midwestern photographs.
Maggie Sasso & Nathaniel Stern
FRI, NOV 16, 2018 – SUN, JAN 27, 2019
Maggie Sasso: Fore & Aft
Through the intertwining of fabricated archives and fictive documentation, Maggie Sasso divulges personal narratives that function as allegories. Her work blurs the boundaries between prop, artifact, and artwork, and she maintains that the role of material culture is vital in the quest to understanding our past. Working with fiber art forms allows Sasso to transform recognizable objects into impossible metaphors. The softness of fabric contrasts with the hard-bodied construction of sailing vessels and architecture, while referencing traditional sailmaking and the material language of signaling flags.
Nathaniel Stern: Autumnal Tints
For this ongoing print series, Nathaniel Stern straps a desktop scanner, computing device, and custom-made battery pack to his body, then performs the images into existence. He might scan in straight, long lines across tables, tie the scanner around his neck and swing over flowers, do pogo-like gestures over bricks, or just follow the wind over water lilies in a pond. The dynamism between his body, technology, and the landscape is transformed into beautiful and quirky renderings, which are then produced as archival artworks. For his show at the Watrous, Stern traversed the fall foliage in and around Milwaukee’s lakefront. As Stern writes about this body of work, “At stake are not only the ways we perform our bodies, media, concepts and materials, but also the implications of water and land, life and non-life, that we perform with every day: as individuals, as a people, and as a part of our habitats.”
Gaylord Schanilec: A Natural History
FRI, FEB 15 – SUN, APR 7, 2019
Internationally known for his exquisite color wood engravings, letterpress printing, and handmade books, Gaylord Schanilec has often focused his attention on the landscape, natural history, and culture of the upper Mississippi. This exhibition will include his four fine-press books focused on natural history—Mayflies of the Driftless Region (2005), Sylvae (2007), Lac Des Pleurs (2015), and My Mighty Journey (2019)—along with framed color wood engravings from each book and a selection of working materials.
Uprooted: Plants in a Changing Climate
FRI, APR 26 – SUN, JUN 16, 2019
In an era described as the Sixth Great Extinction, plants both rare and familiar are at risk, and climate change is accelerating the loss of unique habitats and species. To communicate this visually, we’ve asked five Wisconsin artists to create new work focused on the plants and plant communities that are threatened in Wisconsin. Cynthia Brinich-Langlois (Whitewater), Helen Klebesadel (Madison), Bethann Moran-Handzlik (Fort Atkinson), Katie Musolff (Stoddard), and Lynne Railsback (Williams Bay) are working with local naturalists and scientists to learn about habitats where losses of local botanical diversity are expected to be significant. These include Wisconsin’s northern forests and lakes, where iconic species such as white pine, birch, and hemlock are at risk, as is wild rice; coastal wetlands, where native species are threatened by extreme changes in water levels, pollutant loadings from upstream sources, and invasive species; and oak-savannas and prairies, where native species are threatened by habitat encroachment, loss of sufficient winter dormancy and competing species from warmer zones.
Free and open to the public, the James Watrous Gallery is located on Overture Center’s third floor. Gallery hours are noon-5pm Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday and noon-8pm on Friday and Saturday, or by appointment.
The Watrous Gallery is a program of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, which improves life in Wisconsin through programs that explore, explain, and sustain Wisconsin thought and culture. For more information on James Watrous Gallery exhibitions and Wisconsin Academy Talks, a regular lecture series in Overture Center for the Arts, click here.