The Milwaukee Art Museum is excited to introduce Spotlight Sessions, a virtual series featuring an artist or local luminary interpreting or responding to an artwork in the collection. This series captures the unique perspective an artist brings to either their own or another’s work of art, broadening the experience of a painting, sculpture, or other selected work. Over the next three years, six local and visiting artists will be featured in this series. Viewers will have a range of opportunities to learn about and engage with Spotlight Sessions, including on the website, through social media, and at in-person events.
The Museum’s collection of more than 32,000 works of art spans from antiquity to the present and includes gifts and purchases dating from 1888 to today. There are the favorites that everyone looks forward to seeing with each visit, yet works come in and out and are frequently moved about. They rest (in the vault), travel to other institutions, and enter new social circles in the galleries, striking up new conversations. Each work of art has a “life” that makes the collection itself dynamic—one with many stories to share.
This year, the Milwaukee Art Museum was pleased to work with artist and Milwaukee-area native Reginald Baylor for its annual Member mug. The mug features a detail of his painting On Duty, Not Driving, which is part of the Museum’s collection and currently on view.
I recently took the opportunity to ask Baylor a few questions, including some about the painting.
We invite you to join us as each curator focuses on a single work of art, exploring both that object and how the object speaks to the collection as a whole, as well as to the chosen theme in particular.
We commonly refer to dogs as everyone’s best friend, and for me, that’s true. But I have many other best friends, too, including my cat, my rabbit, and some nice people. Each has their own unique personality. Artworks can also have unique “personalities,” or styles. Artistic styles help us explain how artworks look and how they were made. There are many different styles of art.
Alex Katz’s Sunny #4, a larger-than-life portrait of the artist’s dog, is painted in the Pop Art style. Pop artists often used bold lines, flat shapes, and vivid colors in their artworks. Here, Katz used long, straight brushstrokes to paint Sunny’s hair, and for Sunny’s tongue, he painted a flat, pink rectangle.
Let’s make our own drawings inspired by Sunny!
Sunny #4 by Alex Katz is one of the most beloved pieces in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection. Many visitors make sure to visit Sunny every time they come into the galleries.
Who wouldn’t love this sweet face?
While the Museum was closed, our artworks felt very lonely—and Sunny was no exception! When we heard how much he missed his regular visitors, we knew we had to do something. For the entire month of June, we opened the Museum’s mailbox to messages and drawings for Milwaukee’s most popular pup.
Make moving art inspired by the kinetic sculpture of Harry Bertoia.
Time changes everyone—or almost everyone. Through the years, the Janitor has remained a constant in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
“Have you ever walked past Sunny #4 and not smiled?” That was the question Mrs. Kari Hahm, a teacher at Zion Lutheran School, posed to the Museum when she recently shared the chalk drawings her students made, at home, of Alex Katz’s Sunny #4.
American artist Al Held (1928–2005) was an abstract painter, most famous for his large-scale, geometric works. His paintings are full of circles, squares, cubes, and other geometric shapes and forms that overlap. In the painting below, he used a masking technique to create lines with sharp edges. He masked (covered) the white sections with tape and painted the remaining sections black.
Here’s how you can make your own geometric painting using materials you may already have at home: