Illuminating America’s Dairyland: Andy Fletcher at Tory Folliard Gallery

[full disclosure: Andy Fletcher is a personal friend]

His Father’s Farm

Andy Fletcher’s paintings have depicted the rural farms of the mid-west and to me are prime examples of the farming heritage of Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland. His paintings feature big sky, gently rolling fields, well used barns and outbuildings, and the stunning colors of rural Wisconsin. And they invoke a feeling of well-being and nostalgia until that bit of melancholy starts to seep in when you realize the homes and barns shown are past their prime and very possibly not long for this world.

House Divided 3

And this latest collection of paintings has turned a bit darker…not in a sinister sense…but literally darker…as Andy paints more late afternoon to sunset to after dark scenarios. Buildings are in shadow with lights aglow inside and shadows are more apparent and gloomier…not the sharply defined shadows of mid-day…some more akin to a storm about to threaten our stage set. And some of them are no longer actually on the farm, but more likely from the small towns that supported the larger surrounding farming community…the banks, the grocers, the hardware store, the town halls, the places of worship.

Doegnitz Hardware Nocturne

And new to me, a series of ‘portraits’. No, not the men and women of the mid-west but rather their tired and well used means of daily transport…vans and pick-ups and such. Fitting companions to the rural farm and town scenes that they share the space with.

My Sweetheart

Simply beautiful and sensitive work that is impossible not to admire or wonder at…and should prove very touching for anyone who grew up on a farm or in their supporting communities.

Andy’s work will be on display at the Tory Folliard Gallery at 233 N. Milwaukee St, Milwaukee WI…Milwaukee’s Third Ward! For more info and hours click here!

House Divided 1

21st Century Memento Mori: The Watercolors of Katie Musolff at the Tory Folliard Gallery

JOANNA POEHLMANN’S BIRDS : photo courtesy of The Tory Folliard Gallery

full disclosure: I am a personal friend of Katie Musolff

Over the years, I have been amazed by Katie Musolff’s watercolor and gauche paintings. Well amazed might not be the best descriptor here…I have been mesmerized by her work. And I have experienced that same sense of wonder and awe while viewing her current show, Bone To Pick, at The Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.

LATE SUMMER : photo courtesy of Tory Folliard Gallery

No matter the subject matter, birds, fish, insects, or botanical specimens, Katie’s facility with the media provide that sense of awe and wonder…and define for us a recognition in the relationship of all living things while still making us aware that the objects being represented are individuals within their group or family. And the skill and detail in this work provides a view that few of us will discover on our own.

Memento Mori? Well, yes. Although these paintings represent living things, the actual subjects illustrated are dead. So beyond the wonder of it all…nature and life…we are very aware of our and nature’s mortality. But that in no way removes the beauty and joy that Katie shares with us from the natural world. And there is a painting or two that includes a skull as well…if you are a dyed in the wool Momento Mori purist.

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE : photo courtesy of The Tory Folliard Gallery

Katie’s work has often depicted individual subjects or small complementary groupings and those who have been following her work will recognize it instantly. Accurately delineated grasses or wild flowers…depictions of birds that are essentially portraits…and insects that you expect to take off and flee at our approach. But instead they all submit to our intent and careful examination.

ROBIN : photo courtesy of The Tory Folliard Gallery

But there are a few things here that seem new to me. Some of the larger works are more complex and detailed and are even more mesmerizing than the other works here or earlier works that I recall. One of those pieces is JOANNA POEHLMANN’S BIRDS, the image that I have shared above to open this response. Joanna Poehlmann is a long time respected avian artist from the Milwaukee area. And when Joanna decided to give up her collection of birds, it was appropriate the Katie become their caretaker. So it is a joy on two levels to see this homage to Joanna’s Birds and Katie’s ability to share them with us.

NO MATTER WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES : photo courtesy of The Tory Folliard Gallery

Although I kept coming back to Katie’s paintings of butterflies again and again…this painting just behind the gallery’s front desk turned out to be my favorite:

LIFE CYCLE OF THE AMARYLLIS BULB : photo courtesy of The Tory Folliard Gallery

Bone To Pick runs through April 15, 2023 at The Tory Folliard Gallery at 233 N. Milwaukee St., Milwaukee, WI

FALL : photo courtesy of The Tory Folliard Gallery

P.S. circle back to 2020 and view Katie Musolff Paints An Egg!

PSA: The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters announces a statewide Call for Artists

Straight from the internet!

The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters announces a statewide Call for Artists to exhibit in the James Watrous Gallery, located in Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts. Wisconsin artists working in all media are encouraged to apply. For the first time, the Academy is also welcoming exhibition proposals from guest curators.

Those selected by the jury will be invited to exhibit or curate within the next several years, with the earliest exhibition opening in late 2023. Most exhibitions will be in the form of paired side-by-side solo shows. Jurors for this year’s call will be Portia Cobb, Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, Yvette Pino, Rae Senarighi, and Leslie Walfish.


  • Applicants must be Wisconsin residents at the time of application and exhibition, or have a strong demonstrated history of connection to the state.
  • Students enrolled in arts degree programs are not eligible.
  • Priority will be given to artists who have been out of school for at least two years.
  • Artists who have had a solo show at the Watrous Gallery may apply again ten years after their exhibition.
  • Proposals from guest curators must be primarily focused on Wisconsin artists.
  • The minimum application fee is $5. For those who can afford it, we suggest $25. These fees help support the gallery and keep our programs accessible to all. Information about applicant fees will not be shared with the jury.

Application materials must be submitted to AirTable by 5:00pm, March 1, 2023. 

Click through to their site to complete an online application!