The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Ave., is pleased to present "Private Spaces, Public Authority," on view March 6 through June 7, with an opening reception the evening of Friday, March 6, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. with a special members only preview from 5:30 to 6 p.m.
The exhibition features architectural salvage from the former Elizabeth Plankinton mansion now in the collection of the City of Milwaukee Public Housing Authority and will include woodwork, ceramics and glass that broadly outlines Aesthetic era principles and designs. The objects come from local firms like Matthews Bros. as well as internationally known companies like J & J.G. Low Art Tile of Massachusetts, Belcher Mosaic Glass of New Jersey and Hollins & Minton of Stoke-on-Trent, England.
Opening night will feature a panel discussion on adaptive reuse featuring representatives from the fields of architecture, historic preservation and city planning. Panel discussion will begin at 7 p.m.
Built in the 1880s, the home designed for Elizabeth Plankinton on Milwaukee's Grand Avenue followed the leading trends of that decade, appointed with ornament from America's leading suppliers of interior decoration. This was a decade when Aesthetic principles, encapsulated in the mantra "art for art’s sake," reached their height in this country, having sailed across the Atlantic with Oscar Wilde and spread nationwide with his lecture tour that stressed the value of artful decoration.
The focus of this decorative impulse was the home. Artists and designers, local and national, turned their attention to the seemingly prosaic: glass windows, ceramic tile, wallpapers and even firebacks. The moral and physical loci of the aesthetic home was the Hearth, and it is at the center of this display of architectural salvage, an exhibition organized in partnership with the Milwaukee Public Housing Authority, which owns the collection.
Tracing objects from their creation, to their private installation and subsequently to their de-installation and public salvage, Villa Terrace, itself a repurposed lakeside mansion, explores the possibilities of repurposing old things for new ways of living.