News Column

How Curry, in Madison, put Wisconsin on the Regionalism map

August 15, 2014

By Gayle Worland, The Wisconsin State Journal

Aug. 15--Anyone who travels to the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend over the next month will be seeing a lot of Madison there.

MOWA is featuring two shows with strong connections to the capital city: "John Steuart Curry: At Home in Wisconsin," featuring works by UW-Madison's first artist-in-residence; and "Madison Art Guild: Centenary," showcasing the work of Dane County artists who belong to one of the state's oldest art organizations.

"At Home in Wisconsin" is the first exhibition dedicated to the 10 years the famed Regionalist John Steuart Curry spent in Wisconsin.

Along with Iowa'sGrant Wood and Missouri'sThomas Hart Benton, Curry is known as one of the 20th-century masters of Regionalism or "American Scene" painting. Regionalism rejected European influences and instead focused on the rural American heartland for its inspiration.

Curry, a Kansas native whose work long reflected that state, arrived at UW-Madison in 1936. In a far-sighted move designed to strengthen the bond between the university and Wisconsin's farmers, he was invited for his new post by the College of Agriculture.

Curry's job was to travel the state as an ambassador of art, painting murals and creating artworks, holding workshops and building understanding between artists and farmers.

The artworks in "At Home in Wisconsin" reflect Curry's own farm upbringing and respect for the land. The painting "Our Good Earth," loaned by UW-Madison's Chazen Museum of Art, is a familiar and noble presence for Chazen regulars.

But Madisonians will also relish Curry's "View of Madison with Rainbow," in which a seemingly enchanted sky arcs over the Capitol and factory smokestacks, framed by a peaceful bucolic scene with grazing cows.

The show runs through Sept. 14. MOWA also is displaying the works of 24 members of the Madison Art Guild through Nov. 9 in its State Gallery, a space dedicated to artist groups throughout Wisconsin.

Madison Art Guild, which selects both amateur and professional artists as its members, is celebrating its founding 100 years ago -- an anniversary MOWA describes as "momentous."

Call for artists: Any artist who lives in Wisconsin or has had a transformational art experience that links them to the state can apply for MOWA's new artist-in-residence program in Luxembourg.

The selected artist will receive a monthly stipend, travel costs and live within a converted castle, plus "have complete freedom for work and making connections in Europe" starting in Feb. 2015. The deadline to apply is Sept. 8. See for details.


(c)2014 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

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Source: Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)

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