The Arts Page | Program | #533 — Artists at Work

The Arts Page | Program | #533 — Artists at Work


– Whether in a studio,
outside in the fresh air, or in a group with
other creators, artists find different
ways of interpreting and expressing what
it means to work. On this episode
of The Arts Page, we bring you to
Milwaukee’s Grohmann Museum for a personal tour of their
Artists at Work exhibition and you’ll get to know
some of the local artists involved in the project. Visit the Wisconsin
landmark Ten Chimneys and take a seat
inside a master class taught by award-winning
actor David Hyde Pierce and see the creativity
that has come from collaborations of artists
and industrial specialists over the past 40 years as part
of the Arts/Industry program in Kohler. That’s all coming up
now on The Arts Page. – [Announcer] The Arts
Page is made possible by the Helen Daniels Bader
Fund, a Bader philanthropy honoring Helen Daniels
Bader’s passion for the arts and creativity, the fund brings community
arts to underserved audiences and is a proud supporter
of local arts programming on Milwaukee PBS. (upbeat jazzy music) – Welcome to The Arts Page,
I’m your host, Sandy Maxx. We are on location at
the Grohmann Museum on the campus of Milwaukee
School of Engineering downtown. What’s unique about this
museum is that it specializes in artwork inspired by
the idea of man at work. When you browse the Grohmann
Museum’s collection, you’ll see the history
of industrial technology expressed through various
forms of art and also, the importance of art to
showcase human innovation. Artists at Work is
the current exhibition at the Grohmann Museum. The Cedarburg Artists Guild
collaborated on this project to create artworks based on
the theme of human industry. Come with us now as we
see their interpretations of the definition of work and get to know more
about this creative space that is part of the Milwaukee
School of Engineering. (uplifting orchestral music) – [James] And we
like to say science without art is nothing. Not so much to provide culture but just to provide a
broader view of art. The Grohmann Museum, it
was a product of a gift to the Milwaukee School
of Engineering of an art collection by
Dr. Eckhart Grohmann. The collection all dealt
wit the art of industry. Dr. Grohmann was an
aluminum founder, he ran a foundry on the
south side of Milwaukee, that’s why he had a kind of
an affinity to collecting art and depictions of labor,
depictions of industry, that’s where the
collection began. We’re absolutely unique
in that the collection all deals with human industry. It’s the art of industry,
the art of labor, the art of human achievement. The way the collection’s
organized in the museum is it’s broken up thematically. On the first floor, we have
iron and steel production and all things related
to the heavy industry. On the second floor, we have
construction and agriculture, so the more rural motifs
and those sorts of themes. And on the third floor, it’s craftsmen and
intellectual trade, so that’s a little
more of a catch-all and includes some of the oldest
pieces in the collection. There’s a number of
site-specific artworks included in the building design. They include the mosaic
floor on which you enter. You look directly up and
you see our ceiling mural. The rooftop sculpture
garden, it’s a green roof that includes 18 sculptures that were all reproduced.
They’re site specific pieces based on pieces in the
permanent collection, so they’re reproduced
in life-size and
larger-than-life-size for our rooftop garden. Dr. Grohmann’s intention
in giving the collection to the School of Engineering was he thought that
students of engineering and these very technical
students should be confronted with art
on a daily basis. We host a number of feature
exhibitions every year. The current exhibition,
Artists at Work, is a wonderful collaboration
that we put together with the Cedarburg
Artists Guild. A great opportunity to
showcase local talent. This exhibition came about as a result of a conversation
I had with Susan Steinhafel. Susan is the director of
the Cedarburg Artists Guild. So, we had discussed our theme, that is the theme of
industry, the theme of work, and kind of presented it as
a challenge to the guild, to create new pieces surrounding
this theme of industry, this theme of
human productivity. And they readily
accepted that challenge. There are 42 works by
14 featured artists. The collection is laid
out by artists actually. We have them arranged on
the wall with their pieces as a companion pieces
to one another, but we also laid it
out thematically, so we look for
natural connections between the artists’ work. We have paintings, of course. We have works on paper including
prints and photographs. And a wide variety
in interpreting the
theme of industry. Some of the artists
go at it straight and just document
industry in a snapshot in more of a
straight-forward approach. Others go at it a
little differently, think about the philosophy
and psychology behind work, what work means to us,
what work means to culture. A little bit of
Paul Yank’s work, Paul is, he is very revered by
the Cedarburg Artists Guild, they all very much
look up to him because he is a master printmaker and so, a lot of
the printmakers that are included in the
exhibition have taken their learning and their
tutelage from Paul. – And you’ve got it on here. We work with transparent inks. We leave the textures that
are behind come through. We don’t wanna lose all
that, all the things in it. It’s a monoprint slash pourqoui, it means stencil. And that way we can
lay color over color and with the transparencies, you can get some
really beautiful tones that you couldn’t get otherwise. – [James] Paul deals in
Native American and pan-Indian kind of motifs, very much
a cultural perspective on his work. – [Paul] It’s a
southwest pottery maker and a Mexican basket weaver and a metal smith,
a silver smith. And the other one
is all the workers, the real workers,
which is the women. It’s all Indian pieces, all tied together
as Indian pieces. And I fell in love with
that cultural anthropology, why man does things, you know? What the Native
American was doing as a manufacturer, you know, I mean, they were doing
these things themselves and matter of fact, it
was a way of living, a way of working. – Michael Santini styles
himself a modern medievalist and also paints in more
of a surrealist vein and Michael’s work is
very, very detailed, very nuanced, a
lot of iconography, a lot of symbolism. – I love repetition
and I love symmetry. So, there’s a lot of
reoccurring things that happen in one painting that’ll transfer and move over into
another painting, because I want my pieces
to be somewhat cerebral, I want them to make a statement, to challenge people to think, and maybe even to
make decisions. I would pick the
different symbols that I wanted to represent and the different
elements in that painting and then try and bring all
the elements out to the people that are looking at the piece so they could kind of interact. And then I would
design the border, I would lay out the border, then I would take these
individual drawings of these elements and I
would start manipulating them around the paper to try and
get the strongest design. As time moves on and the paint gets a little
more transparent, then the undertones come through and gives it a lot more form. – [James] The iconography
of the subject matter, often quite wild,
and it’s inspired by
his own spirituality. And so, we see a lot
of biblical motifs and messages in his work, as well as a great
deal of symbolism. – [Michael] To
working in industry and working alongside
somebody else and getting to know them,
getting to respect them, I thought this will
be kind of apropos to what’s going on today. – [James] We included a
number of Milwaukee artists in the exhibition. The suite by Shelby Keeffe of the Marquette
interchange, of the new Milwaukee Bucks stadium
project or arena project. A couple great paintings by
Hale Koenig of local industry, the Swing Bridge down
in the Third Ward, some of the other
icons that we think of when we think of local industry. And they just added a new
dimension and another dimension, a new element to the exhibition
and complemented quite well that art that the Cedarburg
group had produced. This particular collection
of Artists at Work, I think, shows a great
variety and a great diversity in interpreting that theme
of the art of industry, but it also showcases
some great local talent. – You can explore the
Artists at Work exhibition on the second floor
of the Grohmann Museum through August 20th of 2017. Plan your visit and learn more
about the exhibition online at the Grohmann
Museum’s website, msoe.edu/museum This particular painting
of a man lost in thought in a good book may
seem familiar to you. Norman Rockwell took inspiration
from a German painter named Carl Spitzweg
and this is his tribute to Spitzweg’s painting
also titled The Bookworm. Here at the Grohmann Museum, you can also see
Spitzweg’s original. You may have also seen
Spitzweg’s original painting on display in the Milwaukee
Public Library’s rare books room where it hung for decades. It’s now on permanent
loan here at the Grohmann. The idea of artists at work
can also include actors. Ten Chimneys in
scenic Genesee Depot was the country estate
of Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Since 2009, Ten Chimneys has
held special master classes where accomplished actors
learn from master teachers. Take a look at what
it’s like to have Tony and Emmy award-winning
actor David Hyde Pierce as your teacher. – [Angela] It’s a
gathering of masters, both master teachers
and master artists and in this atmosphere
at Ten Chimneys, it’s joyful because we are
also honoring the gifts that the Lunts gave to the
theatrical community and American theater history. – [Randy] Ten Chimneys was
the estate of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne who were
the premier stage actors from the ’20s to the ’60s. We’re here to help
further American theater and that’s in many
ways through education, through training,
through development, and through legacy building. The Lunt-Fontanne
Fellowship program is the preeminent
fellowship program for actors that have
a minimum of 20 years of acting experience. We find that at that stage, that’s when the rejuvenation
may be necessary. At 20 years, you’re mentoring
others just naturally but this is where the
mentors come to be mentored. We have 10 fellows from
all around the country, all among the best
in their craft. They are energized, committed, passionate,
lovers of the theater, you can see why they are
the best at what they do. – The Lunt-Fontanne
estate is a treasure. It’s a jewel and
Wisconsin has it. And to be able to
access this resource and not only have Milwaukee
Theater honored but the Lunt-Fontanne
estate and their legacy, to have that honored
as well is just really, really exciting. This is such an
amazing group of people who have spent their lives
continually showing up, continually pushing
the boundaries, continually redefining
excellence and vulnerability, which is really a fascinating
quality in all of these people that, as professional
and as trained and disciplined as they all are, they’re all
enormously vulnerable and that’s an exciting thing
for both other performers and for audiences. – The master class teacher
really has to be someone that is respected by the
acting community, so you couldn’t
have someone that may have been, had a great role but only have a few
years experience, so typically the
master class teacher has been in the business
for 30 plus years. But in addition to that, have a commitment
to American theater. – [David] I’m here for a
week to run a master class with 10 wonderful actors
from around the country and we’re here to sort
of rejuvenate ourselves and rediscover why we’re
doing what we’re doing. These are people who
have, like myself, reached a point in
life where they are, they’ve done a lot
and accomplished a lot and we are all sort of
collectively looking back and looking forward
at our careers and at our work. My job in the class is, I
think, to just facilitate that and use whatever
experience I have to shed any insights I may have on their careers and their work. My deal this week was I thought
since we’re at Ten Chimneys that we should work on
things that in some way are connected to the Lunts. So, I thought what if
we use that guest list as our template and said,
let’s look at anything written by or
performed in by people who were friends of the Lunts
and came to Ten Chimneys. So I call it “Chimney Pieces”, you could also call it “Six
Degrees of Ten Chimneys”. So, part of this week is
getting to know each other and getting to see
what parts fit well and what scenes work best and I think the general
idea will be we’ll use the first part of
the week to just play and explore as
much as we can and then as it gets towards
the end of the week, we’ll start narrowing down
our choices to scenes that we can maybe dig deeper into, for the rest of the time here. – [Angela] He is so amazingly
generous and gentle. And yet, just a
fascinating scholarly mind, that he’s able to look at the
shape of the scene and say, “Think about this one moment”
or “think about this one “phrase and allow that to
help you get to the truth “of this situation,”
and that kind of an eye is really very, really very rare and that kind of gentleness
and respect as a director is also extremely rare. So, it’s really fun to be in
the room with someone who has not only that kind
of intelligence but that kind of
gentle approach. – [Randy] David’s a
very warm person, very, he’s just very natural in terms of his
connections with people. So, he has offered them not only the wisdom that he has, but he also provided them
with some good guidance and support and
sharing of experiences. – [David] I started out in
the theater doing Broadway and off Broadway, I was doing Shakespeare in the Park,
I was doing new plays, I did a lot of work
in regional theater. Probably the formative
years of my acting were spent in regional theater. At the Guthrie, at the
Goodman, the Long Wharf, places like that. And then I’ve gone away
and done television. And probably most
importantly, I came back and ever since “Frasier”
ended, I’ve been doing theater because that was my
first love and that is what I find most fulfilling. So, that’s a kind of a broad
range of experience that may give me some
perspectives on things that are useful. But above all, I think
it’s that belief in love of an commitment
to the theater. – [Angela] One of the
things that’s happened in the conversations that
the fellows have been having is that we’ve all
discovered that no matter what
checklist there is about whether you’re good at this or whether you
should pursue this, those of us who are here
just keep showing up, that we refuse to
take no for an answer, that we refuse to let someone
else define beauty or talent or success, that we
just keep saying, “I’m gonna keep showing up.” And that’s, right now, what I’m taking away from
this is keep showing up, keep bringing your best game, keep bringing your
best generosity, keep bringing your
best intelligence and good things will happen. – [David] The essence
of a program like this is being willing at a
later stage in your career and in your life
to take a chance, to open yourself up
to possibilities, so that at a time in
life where it’s very easy to start shutting down and
start narrowing your choices and feeling like
you have to protect, being able to
embrace uncertainty, ’cause this place is full of those things
and full of magic. I hope that they
leave here inspired, I hope that they have made
discoveries about themselves or about their technique, and I hope they’ve been exposed
to a world of the theater that they maybe never knew or had lost touch with because some of these plays
don’t get done so much anymore. I hope they leave full of Lunts. – David Hyde Pierce
joined an esteemed list of past master teachers
at Ten Chimneys including Alan Alda,
Olympia Dukakis, Joel Grey, and Phylicia Rashad. Get insights into
the actors’ time with their master teachers
through online journals filled with photos and
stories from each year, and learn more about the
Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship on the website TenChimneys.org Industrial work can be
beautifully coupled with art, like we see here in
this series of paintings of the Kohler Company’s
cast iron division and brass departments
created in the early 2000s by painter Hans Dieter Tylle. Since 1979, the Arts/Industry
Residency program at Kohler Company
gives visual artists from the around the world unprecedented access
to share studio space with their factory’s
industrial workers. The John Michael Kohler
Art Center in Sheboygan recently showcased their
first retrospective of this wide variety
of unique artwork and some of the creativity that has come from these
collaborations. (soft ambient music) – [Ruth] We wanna give people
ways of getting together, of seeing the power of art, the delight of art. It’s happened. This exhibit goes back many, many years and in 1973, we wanted
to do an exhibition of contemporary work in clay. And so we went to Kohler Company because Kohler Company was celebrating its
centennial that year, and we thought what better way
to celebrate the centennial than to use one of the major
materials that they used. And so, we curated it, brought work from
all over the country. There were 87 artists
in the exhibition with over 300 pieces, and people loved it but most
of all, the artists loved it because they had
not been able to see such a large exhibition on
contemporary work in clay. More than anything that
we could do for artists, we felt, was to open up the
factory for them to use, for them to gain new knowledge, to experiment, to create whole
new bodies of work. It’s called “Arts/Industry
Collaboration and Revelation” and it’s all about what was made there, but perhaps equally important, that experience that the
associates and the artists experienced, and I think you
feel that as you go through and you begin to understand
what was really happening through those years and how
it changed through time, how the work became more
and more sophisticated, less about the plumbing and more about a broad
range of issues and ideas. One of the pieces
that is a must-see is a toilet that is actually
in the shape of the factory. One of my favorite
works by Jack Earl called “Saturday Night in Ohio” and it is two guys
taking a break and playing cards at a table and the table, actually,
the top can come off and it becomes a soup tureen. So, it’s an industry item
that’s been turned into art and then in turn, has become
a different functional object. The work of Jim Neel,
it’s a piece about war and was inspired by the
Chinese warriors that, in clay, that were dug up. These are not human warriors,
they are chimpanzees and they wear various
kinds of armor and there are 50 of them
who face you straight on. And you can’t help
but be overwhelmed
by the power of them. Michael Sherill is an
extraordinary artist and his work, usually
metal and clay, but it’s very
delicate, floral pieces and they’re stunning. Shawn Busse created a work
that is quite beautiful, the violins themselves are clay and it’s glazed
a beautiful white and the cases that
surround each violin is of iron, so it’s
this white against black and just that makes
it very beautiful, very evocative. The first work in the factory that incorporated
both clay and iron was the work of an
artist named Ron Fondaw, and he used the iron to
create a base for the piece. One end rests on the floor and the other end rests
on a cone of clay. The color, the
yellows, the blues against the white, the
white and the black are really stunning. Sarah Peters was a
very young woman. She had a lot of spunk. The series of wigs that she
made were especially beautiful and today, I try to go past
them just because I love them so much. I would like to
see our audiences see the power of what people
working together can do, the power of collaboration, the strength of an idea, the persistence that it
takes to make it succeed, what amazing things people can
do when they work together. – You can learn more
about the Arts/Industry Residency program and
see the collection online at the website
tinyurl.com/ArtsIndustryProgram. For more art stories, visit
the Milwaukee PBS website at MilwaukeePBS.org and
click on The Arts Page or check out The Arts
Page on Facebook. It’s been a pleasure
to bring you inside another Milwaukee museum
and show you around. Special thanks to the staff
here at the Grohmann Museum on the campus of Milwaukee
School of Engineering for their hospitality and for sharing their
art with our city. If you want to learn more
about the Grohmann Museum, go to the website
msoe.edu/museum I’m Sandy Maxx, thank
you so much for watching and please, join us next
time on The Arts Page. – [Announcer] Funding for The
Arts Page is made possible by the Helen Daniels Bader
Fund, a Bader philanthropy. Committed to bringing
the creative arts to underserved audiences,
the Helen Daniels Bader Fund encourages collaboration
and innovation that strengthens our community
to make our world a better place to live. (upbeat jazzy music)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *