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.
Although this year we cannot gather at the Museum to see the Neapolitan crèche in the European galleries, an annual tradition for many, it is still possible to appreciate the joy this special tableau brings.
Back in early 2018, Tanya Paul, Isabel and Alfred Bader Curator of European Art, proposed that the Museum again install its Nativity scene, or crèche, in the galleries for the holidays. The work, a visitor favorite, hadn’t been on view since 2013, because the setting for the Holy Family and other figures was worn and needed repair—such stage sets are often fragile constructions that require replacing. The Museum’s setting needed either to be restored or refabricated. The decision was made to make a new stage set, and a group of us, from the Conservation department and the preparatory staff, started to explore the possibilities.
Nearly forty years ago, in 1981, a group of twelve Museum Members with an interest in prints and drawings established Print Forum. George Evans and Kent Anderson served as the group’s first president and vice-president, respectively. One of the Museum’s nine currently active support groups, Print Forum is among the longest standing.
When I returned to the Milwaukee Art Museum after the state’s Safer at Home order, one of the first things I did was visit an old friend: Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb (1630/34) by the Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán. I’ve walked by the painting nearly every workday in my time at the Museum, but never have I been more appreciative of its quiet contemplativeness and the sense of stability it brings me. Indeed, the painting is such a fixture of the Museum that it is hard to imagine that it was ever not here, that it lived in three different countries, across two continents, before arriving in Milwaukee.
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.
English history can appear to be a long list of kings and queens with the same names. The queen that most of us are familiar with today is Queen Elizabeth II. The first and only other Queen Elizabeth ruled from 1558 to 1603.
When you look at the painting below, what do you see? American artist Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011) was an Abstract Expressionist;these artists used line, shape, and color to express themselves.
Frankenthaler invented her own painting technique, which she called “soak staining.” First, she added turpentine to her oil paints to make them thinner (and very runny!). Then, she laid a cotton canvas flat on the floor, and poured, dripped, and brushed the paint onto its surface. Since her canvases were unprimed, or raw, the paint soaked into the fabric.
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.