After a short break, we are bringing back the collection highlights series! Today’s highlight is Joshua Cowell’s painting, Aleese, from the 2015 Juried Show.
Aleese was made as part of a portrait series of people the artist was close to at the time. Although this painting is largely representational, Cowell has since taken more of an abstract approach to art making, and his work has “transformed into a more expressive retelling of commonality and day-to-day life.”
You can check out his work on Instagram @cowelljoshua and at https://scout-gallery.myshopify.com/collections/joshua-cowell-art where his work is available for purchase through the Scout Gallery!
Aleese was displayed in the Fireside Lounge from 2016 until it was switched out with another collection piece, Kobena E. AlaKetu’s Urban Mosaic, in 2018. It is currently off-view and stored in our collections space.
Oil on canvas
An oil painting of a figure from the waist up, who has light yellow-blonde hair in a bun. The figure wears a bright red tank top and is looking down to the left corner of the canvas (from the viewer’s point of view). The figure is painted from an angle that is slightly above, highlighting their head and shoulders but leaving their waist in shadow. Although it is clear that the figure is a person, the paint has been applied in whispy layers of color which create a softening and painterly effect. The background is done in brushy strokes of various hues of blue and purple.
Today’s collection highlight is a woodcut by recent UWM graduate, Julia Scheckel!
Julia’s work often depicts memories of spending time, especially in nature, with close friends, and this woodcut is no exception. The inspiration behind this specific work came from an annual camping trip for Julia and her friends to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Julia and her friend fit right in among their natural surroundings, creating a visual language of connection and calm. In Julia’s words: “The sublime quality of the waterfall and forest paired with the love that I feel for my friends who were with me was something that I needed to reproduce. Moments of intense emotion urge me to put them down on paper.”
Here are some more of Julia’s thoughts on this work: “The hours spent carving this woodblock had me thinking about my relationships, the great bonds that I have with my friends, and how breathtaking the natural world can be. Not only is the world beautiful, but I also find it overwhelming. Knowing that my friends will always be at my side takes away a lot of that fear.”
Julia graduated from UWM this past Spring. She obtained a BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Print and Narrative Forms. Julia is keeping busy by working on a new screenprint, relief blocks, and an intaglio plate. She recently bought her own printmaking press and is in the process of setting up her own studio, and she is eager to work on many potential creative projects, including an art magazine and city-wide printmaking club. She also very recently got two of her pieces into Issue #29 of The Hand Magazine. You can find her work and get notified of future projects at her website, https://www.juliascheckel.com/, or by checking out her Instagram page, @julia.scheckel
Visual Description: A black and white woodcut print. Most of the print is of a forest surrounding a wide river with a small waterfall in the center. A figure with short dark hair and a backpack stands at the bottom, their legs cut off by the framing of the image. Another figure in profile with a cap crouches, sitting near the bank of the river, looking at the waterfall. The gnarled roots of a tree to the left run down the embankment.
Rubber sealant on canvas
2016.1.1 & 2
When I first saw this piece, I wondered what paint technique had made such a fascinating texture and pattern. It turns out that the black caverns and shadows were made by wrinkling the canvas and spraying not black paint but rubber sealant, like the kind someone would use to prevent leaks on a roof, at an angle and letting it accumulate. This experiment created, in Brennen’s words, “a topographical form; something reminiscent of a mountainous terrain or discarded piece of paper.” It certainly evokes a mountainous, moon-like, or planet-like surface that feels thick enough to be three-dimensional but fragile enough to be crumpled up at a moment’s notice.
This piece was purchased from the 2016 Juried Show. It was awarded Best in Show. It currently hangs in the Fireside Hallway of the Union.
Brennen Steines is a painter and UWM alumnus who received his BFA in 2018. He is currently in Yale School of Art’s MFA program and will graduate in 2022. He also has some ties to the UAG having worked here during his time at UWM. You can see more of his work at http://brennensteines.com/ or on Instagram @brennensteines. He currently has a show up at the Alice Wilds Gallery titled Vestiges, which will be up until September 12, 2020. http://www.thealicewilds.com/current/
Visual Description: A diptych that meets up somewhat in the middle. The main asymmetric expanse resembles a mountainous or lunar surface. It is primarily a beige-cream color on a black background but also has some paper–white swathes of color on the left-hand corner and through the middle of the piece that seem to slightly obscure the surface below. Black crags and shadows fill out the beige and white portions, which work to create what look like caverns, mountain peaks, and craters.
Acrylic on canvas
This striking painting was created during an interactive live performance in the Union Concourse on November 6th, 2014 for the Visualizing Sovereignty exhibition that opened on November 14th. The audience was invited into a dialogue with Echo-Hawk and their engaging conversation resulted in this painting, which was shown in the Visualizing Sovereignty exhibition and then put into the UAG art collection. It hung in the Fireside Lounge until it was moved to its current location in the Burger King sitting area in 2019.
Bunky Echo–Hawk (born 1975) is an internationally known visual artist and poet based out of Pawnee, Oklahoma who is known for his vibrant acrylic paintings concerned with and depicting indigenous activism and culture. You can find out more about him and his work at his website, https://www.bunkyechohawk.com/, and on Instagram @bunkhaus
Visual Description: A large figure staring straight out at the viewer on a red background with “Born…” written in dripping black at the top. The figure is pale with bluish shadows and two, small red lines at the corner of their eyes. The figure is mostly bald but has a small Mohawk puff at the very top of their head.
Oil and Acrylic on Canvas
This bright and celebratory piece by Sara Werner is a very recent addition to the UAG Student Art Collection from this year’s Juried Show. I love the contrast with the figure and the neon green background, which gives Carla a three-dimensional presence on a two-dimensional surface. Even with sunglasses on, you can feel Carla’s gaze and feel the confidence radiating from her. I got to ask the artist about this piece, and she told me that “the She Is… series celebrates black women comfortable in their bodies and environments. The patterns used pay homage to African-American history and heritage. This piece in particular was the first time I made my own stamp for the background and I love the outcome with the color choices.”
Sara Werner is a painter and recent UWM graduate. She continues to work on the She is… series and she also enjoys experimenting with other materials. She has been spending time homeschooling her son and working on keeping creative and motivated. You can check out her work by following her on Instagram @renrew1104 !
Visual Description: A figure on a bright neon green background with an orange pattern. The figure is a Black woman with short cropped hair, sunglasses, golden hoops, and a dark blue shirt. She has her chin tilted upward and is staring out a little above the viewer.