Community Collaborations: Art and Music with H2O Milwaukee Music

H2O Milwaukee Music visits the Spring 2015 Satellite interns. Photo by Satellite teens

H2O Milwaukee Music visits the Spring 2015 Satellite interns. Photo by Satellite teens

Four years ago, in 2011, I was introduced to Dwight and Marquis Gilbert — otherwise known as H2O Milwaukee Music — and the teen programs at the Milwaukee Art Museum were forever changed.

Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but collaborating with Dwight and Marquis has without a doubt been one of the highlights of my teaching work here at the Museum. Dwight and Marquis are cousins and Milwaukee natives with a deep passion for music. Their organization, H2O Milwaukee Music, creates after-school programs that teach youth music theory, technology, and life skills in a super engaging way: by empowering them to create their own tracks (and even music videos). Back in 2011, I was experimenting with mashing up other disciplines with art, and when I heard about what Dwight and Marquis do, I was so excited to bring them in to experiment with our teen programs. Continue reading

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Questions of Provenance–An Introduction

Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect, ca. 1900 (dated 1903). Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Mrs. Albert T. Friedmann M1950.3. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect, ca. 1900 (dated 1903). Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Mrs. Albert T. Friedmann M1950.3. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

One of the important areas of museum research is that of provenance, or the history of ownership.

Why is it important to know who owned an artwork? Well, for a number of reasons. Continue reading

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From the Collection–Christopher Dresser, Pitcher and Claret Jug

Christopher Dresser (English, 1834-1904) Manufactured by Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company (Torquay, Devon, England, established 1867) Pitcher, designed 1870-75; produced by Watcombe of Torquay. Terracotta or red stoneware, gilding 7 1/8 × 5 1/2 × 5 1/4 in. (18.1 × 13.97 × 13.34 cm) . Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Daniel Morris and Denis Gallion M1991.323

Christopher Dresser (English, 1834-1904) Manufactured by Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company (Torquay, Devon, England, established 1867) Pitcher, designed 1870-75; produced by Watcombe of Torquay. Terracotta or red stoneware, gilding 7 1/8 × 5 1/2 × 5 1/4 in. (18.1 × 13.97 × 13.34 cm) . Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Daniel Morris and Denis Gallion M1991.323

In 1898, the artists periodical The Studio called Christopher Dresser “perhaps the greatest of commercial designers imposing his fantasy and invention upon the ordinary output of British industry.” This seems an appropriate description for an Englishman who was interested in art but first trained in botany, and then found inspiration for his designs both in the ancient past and traditions of Japan.

Looking at two of Dresser’s designs in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum–a pitcher produced by the Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company and a claret jug produced by Hulkin & Heath–you can see how he applied his own personal motto to his work: truth, beauty, power. The sleek and angular vessels lack the decoration that most people associate with the Victorian period, which would have been at its height in the 1870’s.  They look like something from the 20th century!

It may surprise you then, that Dresser was also known for his interests in flat patterning.

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From the Collection–Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, Two-Handled Urn

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory (Dresden, Germany, established 1710), Two-Handled Urn, 1814-60. Porcelain with hand-painted overglaze decoration and gilding. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation, M1962.248. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory (Dresden, Germany, established 1710), Two-Handled Urn, 1814-60. Porcelain with hand-painted overglaze decoration and gilding. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation, M1962.248. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Last week, we looked an amazing example of large-scale Meissen porcelain sculpture.  This time, we’ll look at another beautiful work of Meissen, this two-handled urn.

This sizable object has a great presence (it’s about a foot tall).  What immediately draws attention is the beautifully painted decoration.  The base and rim are painted in a Renaissance revival-style panel with purple-pink and light olive green tones highlighted with the white of the porcelain and shiny gilding. And then there is the main frieze, which shows an ancient Greek myth called the Calydonian Boar Hunt. Continue reading

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From the Collection–G. H. van Hengel, Jr., Chandelier

G.H. van, Jr. Hengel (Rotterdam, Holland, active 18th century). Chandelier, 1710-30. Brass, cast iron, 42 1/2 × 36 3/4 in. (107.95 × 93.35 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, M1974.232 Photo credit: P. Richard Eells

G.H. van, Jr. Hengel (Rotterdam, Holland, active 18th century). Chandelier, 1710-30. Brass, cast iron, 42 1/2 × 36 3/4 in. (107.95 × 93.35 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, M1974.232 Photo credit: P. Richard Eells

This fantastic chandelier is currently on view in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s east galleria.  It hangs there to represent the European collections in our reinstallation display–and I think that is does a great job!

Dating to the early 18th century, the chandelier is typically Dutch in form. The design is a perfect example of baroque restraint, from its curved arms, a baluster-shaped shaft, and the balancing ball with finial. Overall, it is graceful and well-proportioned—it was clearly made by a master metalworker. The glossy dark patina is also well-done and in great condition. Continue reading

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