In the fall of 2008, the Chipstone Foundation and the Milwaukee Art Museum did a complete overhaul of their American Collections Galleries.All the murals from 2001 are now gone, all the walls rearranged, and the galleries are transformed. The new galleries were designed by Michael Mikulay.
I was asked to do a number of really interesting things for the big reinstallation. One was a “Cabinet of Curiosities”, the painting of which was inspired by the Renaissance display tradition of the same name. All the new cabinetry was fabricated by the amazing Riverworks Design Studio, and they brought the pieces and parts to my studio (garage) in the summer of ’08.
Here is the finished installation:
I later applied gilded lettering to these pieces:
Another large scale mural was painted on the east wall of the same room. It is derived from another sort of curious idea from art history, the anamorphic image. In this case, a historical engraving was distorted, so that from one angle the image looks scrambled, but when viewed through a looking gladd off to one side, it comes back into focus.
This was a special challenge due to the ornate detail of enlarging an engraving to 20 feet in length. I had to work in the dark with the projector on, working directly with the paint. If I had tried to sketch with pencil first, I would have no idea what to do when the lights came on.
Here is the finished mural, looking head-on:
And here is an in process shot…
The final project for the exhibit was to “upholster” two foam and wire mannequins, which were to be clothed in costumes from Colonial Williamsburg. These mannequins were put into a case, as a sort of historic vignette of a man and woman flirting.
The purchased mannequins were sadly lacking in human qualities, and had to not only be upholstered in linen, but completely re-sculpted with stuffing. I had to purchase underwear to give them some form before the linen was sewn. I bought wig stands to cover for the heads, which also ended up needing to have noses sculpted onto them. For the hands, I had to make a pair of gloves for each and stuff them.