One of the most inviting aspects of the Haggerty Museum of Art on the Marquette University campus is its compact nature. If you’ve spent a day at The Art Institute of Chicago or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, then you know how overwhelming those experiences can be.
At the Haggerty, which runs a number of shows concurrently, the exhibitions are digestible and varied. You can get your arms around them and really focus and imbibe.
At the moment, there are four shows on view, three of which opened together last week and all of which close on July 28.
While "Images of the Virgin Mary," which opened in January, continues its run upstairs with a range of works dating from the late 14th century to the middle of the 20th century, "New Objectivity in German Art," "Aberrance and Artifice" and "Jim Dow American Studies" greet visitors on the main floor galleries.
Don’t miss the handful of Dow’s photographs just to the left past the guard desk. Dow spent 40 years trekking across America photographing a variety of sites. The works here focus on uniquely American places and their populist architecture.
There is a neon-lit Dairy Queen illuminating the night outside Iowa City in 1988. A rusty Coca-Cola sign stands proudly, and alone, at a roadside. Mike’s Place looks closed forever. Bailey’s ice cream stand looks closed just for the day.
These are familiar places, even if we’ve never seen them specifically. They speak to a uniquely American flavor and a perhaps similarly American ephemerality of place.
Filling a trio of galleries is "Aberrance and Artifice: The Norton Collection," with works in a variety of media executed in the 1990s by a group of emerging artists that includes Gregory Crewdson, Tim Ebner, Elliott Green, Tom Knechtel, Judy Pfaff and Alexis Rockman.
The works are often dark, yet simultaneously playful, like Deborah Brown’s "Queen Hog," a gold leaf-adorned rubber taxidermied pig’s head with a decorative tulle adornment.
Perhaps my favorite, however, is "New Objectivity in German Art: Highlights from the Marvin and Janet Fishman Collection," which inhabits three gallery spaces.
The works, which range from Josef Scharl’s dark expressionist "Arbeiterbildnis" to a nearly two dozen ink on paper portraits by Rudolf Schlicter, are from the collection of the Fishmans, who over three decades created one of the most important collections of early 20th century German art in America.
The show offers hints of the diversity of the collection but there is a dark thread running through it, from Schlicter’s portraits of poorhouse residents to the ominous looking patrons in works by George Grosz and a disturbing Otto Dix watercolor depicting a scene in the catacombs beneath Palermo.
On Aug. 21, two new shows alight at the Haggerty. "Current Tendencies III Artists from Milwaukee" spotlights nine emerging Brew City artists: Tyanna Buie, William E. Carpenter, Evan Gruzis, Jon Horvath, Mark Mulhern, Jean Roberts Guequierre, Cassandra Smith and Jessica Steeber, and Jason S. Yi.
The museum also launches "Re-seeing the Permanent Collection: The Viewer's Voice." Both will run through Dec. 22.
Admission to the Haggerty Museum is always free and open to the public. The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and until 8 on Thursdays. It is open noon until 5 on Sundays.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.