In 1997, Milwaukee native Paul Druecke (American, b. 1964) initiated A Social Event Archive by going door to door, inviting residents to contribute their personal snapshots of a “social occasion, public or private, current or historical” to his Archive. After ten years, he had 731 pictures. Drawn from disparate family albums and shoeboxes, the photographs in the Archive—removed from their original contexts and stripped of any personal associations—suggest universal stories and a larger narrative about cultural modes of socializing. A picture from a daughter’s birthday or a cousin’s wedding has become an example of a social gathering in Midwestern America at the end of the twentieth century. Through Druecke’s democratic system of participation, individuals freely chose which pictures to contribute, but while helping construct the collective, the images were at the same time subsumed by it, revealing the inherently complicated and dissonant nature of an archive.
What did socialites in Milwaukee read during the jazz age of the late 1920s?
Well, naturally, everyone was reading The Modern Milwaukeean!
The magazine circulated from September of 1928 through the spring of 1930 and billed itself as the key publication for keeping up with the latest technological trends and everything modern. It proposed modernity as a way of life, but what really set The Modern Milwaukeean apart was its modern graphic design.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is excited to announce that Zak Groh has been appointed Executive Chef of its culinary program, including Café Calatrava and events. Groh comes to the Museum with sixteen years of professional experience in the hospitality and restaurant industries.
Groh, who is a Milwaukee native, most recently owned and operated Whisk Culinary, a boutique catering company servicing the aviation markets in Milwaukee and Chicago. He has managed James Beard Award–winning restaurants and taught culinary arts, bringing a well-rounded and unique perspective to his new role as Executive Chef.
Get to know Chef Zak Groh a little better through a recent Q&A session:
How many years have you been in the food and beverage industry?
I started working at our family’s frozen custard stand at age eleven. I worked there all through high school and have been in the industry ever since—professionally since age eighteen.
Has anything about the Museum (the art, architecture, location) inspired your forthcoming menus?
It has, and will only continue to. I think food has to be fun, which I am reminded of when I see the Chihuly in Windhover Hall—the colors, shapes, and controlled chaos of the work remind me of a busy kitchen! When I see Cornelia Parker’s Edge of England, I think of panko, and then I think of spring, and asparagus, and a panko-crusted asparagus, maybe paired with a sumptuous confit of tuna, a punchy bright sauce . . . and so on!
What is your cooking philosophy?
My philosophy is to cook seasonal and for the day. I am always looking to add a twist or something unique to a basic technique.
What is your favorite dish to cook for yourself or loved ones?
I love to cook with loved ones for a special meal and to use homegrown vegetables and herbs when possible. I especially love cooking with my daughters, Sloane (2) and Bridgette (3). We’ll snip chives, soft scramble some eggs, and finish with a drizzle of brown butter for a simple breakfast!
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
I am a big fan of acidity; a splash of vinegar or a few riffs of a zest can really brighten and balance a component.
Where does a chef enjoy eating in Milwaukee on his day off?
Milwaukee has so many good spots! A favorite is Le Reve. I also try to catch some of the offerings at the farmers market and will pop into the Public Market to grab a po’boy at St. Paul’s Fish Company.
How does a city change, and how does the visual record of that city change with it? In the Museum’s Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts, two artists take on the shifting nature of New York City, in Helen Levitt: In the Street and James Nares: In the City (both on view until April 16).
James Nares (English, b. 1953) came to the city in 1974 in search of its legendary art scene. Moving into a loft in TriBeCa, an industrial area that was all but abandoned at the time, Nares says that “The whole neighborhood became kind of an open studio.” Since then, he’s seen the city transform into a diverse metropolis, and the two works currently on view in the Herzfeld Center, Pendulum (1976) and STREET (2011), nearly bookend his experience.
Our Curator of Photography and Media Arts, Lisa Sutcliffe, recently sat down with James Nares to discuss the evolution of New York, and the influence of the city on his work. Listen to James and Lisa talk about the inspiration behind these works in the Milwaukee Art Museum podcast downloadable here.
Also on view in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts is Helen Levitt: In the Street, which offers a look at the career of photographer Helen Levitt (American, 1913–2009). Levitt was a born-and-bred New Yorker who captured the lively streets and neighborhoods of New York from the 1930s to the 1980s. Using a light-weight 35 mm Leica camera, she roamed the working class neighborhoods of the city, finding her subjects in children at play, Garment District workers, or neighbors gossiping on their front stoops.
Be sure to come by to see James Nares: In the City and Helen Levitt: In the Street before they close on April 16th!
Milwaukee Art Museum Statement on the Proposed Elimination of NEA:
As an agent of the public trust, the Milwaukee Art Museum joins the outcry across the country against the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and similar agencies.
For the Milwaukee Art Museum, NEA funding has been critical in propelling the Museum’s mission to collect and preserve art and present it to the community as a vital source of inspiration and education. In 1992, the Museum received an NEA Challenge Grant for $750,000 that was matched to build a $1.5 million endowment at the Museum. The Museum draws 5 percent ($80,000) from this endowment every year. NEA grants supported the exhibitions American Fancy: Exuberance in the Arts, 1790–1840 and Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940–1959, among others, as well as the acquisition of nearly 200 works for the Museum’s Collection, including gifts from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection.
The NEA has further provided the Museum with indemnity agreements, which help offset the high cost of insuring art exhibitions. These agreements have allowed us to share significant bodies of work by artists Wassily Kandinsky, Andy Warhol, Jan Lievens, and Rembrandt with our visitors—affording many from throughout Wisconsin and the region with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
The National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965states, “It is vital to democracy to honor and preserve its multicultural artistic heritage as well as support new ideas, and therefore it is essential to provide financial assistance to its artists and the organizations that support their work.” We share in that belief and ask that you join us in standing strong against the proposed cuts to these agencies.
Send a message to your congressional representatives, urging them to protect the funding of the NEA and NEH.
The Milwaukee Art Museum The Milwaukee Art Museum Board of Trustees
About the NEA Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit www.arts.gov to learn more about NEA.
About the Milwaukee Art Museum Home to a rich collection of over 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, annually showcasing three feature exhibitions, and the Eero Saarinen–designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center and David Kahler-designed addition. The Museum recently reopened its Collection Galleries, debuting nearly 2,500 world-class works of art within dramatically transformed galleries and a new lakefront addition.
The Milwaukee Art Museum’s current feature exhibition,Milwaukee Collects, includes more than 100 objects from nearly 50 private collections in the Greater Milwaukee area. It offers an opportunity to see treasures that are typically not on public view. At the same time, it reminds us that the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection is part of a long tradition of collecting in the community. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will explore the provenance of selected artworks in the collection and how they came to be here.
Last summer, we took a closer look at a little gem of a painting in the European collection: Three Cuirassiers by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901). It is a rare early oil painting by the great Post-Impressionist artist, done when Lautrec was only fourteen! So, how did the painting come to be in Wisconsin, at the Milwaukee Art Museum? Let’s take a closer look at the provenance trail.
Eckhart Grohmann has collected art since the 1960s. His “Man at Work” collection, which he donated to the Milwaukee School of Engineering, comprises more than eleven hundred paintings and sculptures and focuses on people at work through time. The Grohmann Museum at MSOE is named in his honor.
Sande Robinson is a former trustee of the Milwaukee Art Museum and the president of the African American Art Alliance, one of the Museum’s nine support groups. She is lending Still Life #2 by Milwaukee-native Tyanna Buie to the exhibition.
Jody and Dick Goisman’s passion for decorative arts and design, particularly Art Deco, started early in their lives. They, in turn, became strong leaders in the creation, funding, and acquisition of objects for the Museum’s design collection. Their loans are featured in Milwaukee Collects and the Demmer Design Gallery. Learn more about their life as collectors, as shared with Monica Obniski, Demmer Curator of 20th- and 21st-Century Design.