Meet Zak Groh, the Museum’s new Executive Chef!

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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.

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From the Collection–Character Steins

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). "Singing Pig" Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). “Singing Pig” Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

[Once a year, the Milwaukee Art Museum will rotate the German steins on view in the gallery of nineteenth century German art. The newest installation is a selection of character steins, so we’d like to highlight the change by re-posting this entry from 2015.]

Ready for some laughs? In this post, we’ll be looking at German steins meant to be amusing.

The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century meant that more goods could be produced quickly and more people could afford those goods. Developments in the technique for shaping ceramics meant that steins didn’t have to be a standard shape—they could be molded in all sorts of ways. And, in a never-ending quest for novelty, they were! Continue reading

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Questions of Provenance: Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers by Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant

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 second in a series of blog posts that will explore the provenance of selected artworks in the collection and how they came to be here.

Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (French, 1845–1902), Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas. 58 1/2 × 39 3/4 × 1 1/4 in. (148.59 × 100.97 × 3.18 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Marie K. Ingersoll and George L. Kuehn M1962.1158. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (French, 1845–1902), Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas. 58 1/2 × 39 3/4 × 1 1/4 in. (148.59 × 100.97 × 3.18 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Marie K. Ingersoll and George L. Kuehn M1962.1158. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers is a highlight of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Orientalism gallery. Orientalism is a style in which the Near East is interpreted by western artists. This interest in the “exotic” was extremely popular in nineteenth century Europe and provided subject matter not just for paintings, but also decorative arts and interior decoration.

Even houses in small-town Wisconsin might have a “Turkish Corner” featuring a table, platter, and rug just like those found in the foreground of our painting. Just check out this one at the Hixon House in La Crosse!

The French painter Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (1845–1902) found a ready clientele for his Orientalist works in late nineteenth century American collectors. The relaxed atmosphere, monumental figures, and Mediterranean setting of Evening on the Seashore-Tangiers would have been of particular interest to wealthy patrons who had large new homes to decorate.

Continue reading

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Podcast: Artist James Nares and Curator Lisa Sutcliffe In Conversation

Image caption: James Nares, still from PENDULUM, 1976. 8 mm film transfer to HD video, black and white, sound; 18 min. Courtesy the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York. © James Nares.

Image caption: James Nares, still from PENDULUM, 1976. 8 mm film transfer to HD video, black and white, sound; 18 min. Courtesy the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York. © James Nares.

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!

 

Image caption: James Nares, still from PENDULUM, 1976. 8 mm film transfer to HD video, black and white, sound; 18 min. Courtesy the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York. © James Nares.

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From the Collection: Fighting Fauns by Franz von Stuck

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the third and final in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928), Fighting Fauns (Kämpfende Faune), 1889. Etching. Plate: 3 7/8 × 5 5/8 in. (9.84 × 14.29 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1995.294. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928), Fighting Fauns (Kämpfende Faune), 1889. Etching. Plate: 3 7/8 × 5 5/8 in. (9.84 × 14.29 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1995.294. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Remember how French Rococo artist Jean Honoré Fragonard showed satyrs as lighthearted, family-orientated creatures?

Well, today we’re going to see how another artist used those creatures to represent something totally different.

Continue reading

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