I have documented a number of pop up sculptures in Lake Park and environs over the years and every time I travel on Lincoln Memorial Drive, I search them out and treat them as landmarks on my journeys. But I hadn’t really traveled that route since the spring semester at UW-Milwaukee ended…but when I headed back that way after a visit to Shorewood, I was amazed to see a new sculpture. Now I am pretty confident that it wasn’t there during the Harley Davidson Homecoming Weekend, July 25 – 28th, 2023. But there it was last Thursday in a new spot just about a 100 yards south of Colectivo Coffee at the Lakefront (1701 N Lincoln Memorial Drive).
It is a classic work in the series using man made and manipulated elements of concrete impaled on steel rod and once again embedded into a fallen tree trunk.
and again, I apologize for the washed out look. I tend to visit in mid-day and the strong sun contributes to a very washed out look and of course the material is very reflective.
But in the meantime, it appears that two of our past examples have been removed. The first one was just north of the tennis courts (north of Colectivo) in the area that older boomers would know as the alternate site. I searched for it on foot thinking that it may have gotten overgrown, but I think that it is gone. Here is a photo from the archive.
and this one along the bottom of the bluff just immediately south of the gardens at Villa Terrace.
Some of the elements from the missing pieces may have been repurposed in the new stealth sculpture. It’s hard to tell but they are very similar in shape and size…and it would make sense to reuse them.
and as always: and if you know who the artist is, I’d like to talk with them. They can remain anonymous if that’s their wish. Or if you see more around town, I’d like to be able to document them…so let me know about them, please: firstname.lastname@example.org
AND NOTE: this is the fifth in a series, so please search for stealth and enjoy them all.
Kehinde Wiley is a contemporary American portrait painter. His exceptional work features African Americans in a naturalistic manner most often set against a pattern of bright abstract patterns reminiscent of some of the wallpaper patterns used by European painters in the 19th Century. The portraits themselves are influenced by Renaissance and other classical portrait sources. And his paintings are monumental in size which lends a certain grandeur and intensity to the works.
His works have been featured in a number of major shows and retrospectives. I first really became aware of his work when I saw a retrospective of his work in Houston some years back. And the Milwaukee Art Museum has a prime example of his work! His most famous work however is his recent portrait of former President Barack Obama for the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian. A portrait true to Wiley’s work but something amazing compared to the tradition of presidential portraits.
So it was a very pleasant surprise to find a major Kehinde Wiley painting and installation on the main floor of the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. The Musee d’Orsay is a major home of primarily French art from the impressionists through post-impressionists. So you find Rodin, Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and others. But to see not only a living contemporary artist…but an American one at that…and in a prime location with a monumental piece…is simply astonishing.
The work is titled An Archaeology of Silence and features one of Wiley’s signature paintings…but also includes two monumental bronze sculptures as well…a medium that I wasn’t aware that Wiley worked in. But here are a few photos that I shot of the installation and you can see the incredible detail that went into this work. (what I didn’t do is shoot all three pieces in one frame, a regrettable oversight on my part)
And now I am going to attempt to type in the information from the wall placard rather than letting you strain your eyes reading my blurred photo of it:
For nearly 15 years, Kehinde Wiley (who was born in Los Angeles in 1977) has based his work around subverting identities and stereotypes. He has played a pioneering role in the historical rereading of effigies of heroes who were sometimes less than heroic. The artist emphasizes the arrogance of the erect pose, from full-length portraits to equestrian statues. He began by raising the profile of unknown members of oppressed communities of people of colour worldwide by depicting them in these dominant poses, often adopting famous compositions from the history of western painting and statuary.
The works exhibited here, which were unveiled at the Venice Biennale in the spring mark a new direction by showcasing anonymous recumbent figures in the manner of fallen heroes. By depicting his models as victims, but without pathos, Kehinde Wiley elevates them in their state of abandon, in an approach at odds with the conspicuous masculinity advocated by the American model. In the huge painting presented here, in close proximity to the marble figures in the museum which inspired him, the artist submerges the experience of violence in an irrational decorative space. The vulnerability elevated to the monumental scale resonates as an ode to youth and resilience.
I have documented a number of pop up sculptures in Lake Park that are visible from Lincoln Memorial Drive. As I’ve mentioned before they have become touchstones or landmarks for me as I travel from Bay View to the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee campus. But in the late spring and summer they are very very hard to keep track of as the foliage surrounds them.
So it was with a great deal of excitement that I found a brand new one during my recent sojourns to campus. This one is on park property and easy to see. It is just immediately south of the gardens of the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. One of the other major installations is just immediately north of these same gardens, on private property, but clearly visible from the park…currently just a bit obscured by some of the luscious summer foliage. So here it is (and I apologize for the photos…they are washed out a bit by the mid-day summer sun):
and to get a better idea of their construction, here are some close ups of the components.
And in the meantime, it seems to me that two of the smaller original pieces have been removed. Whether by the artist, the county parks people, or a vandal I have no way of knowing. But here are the two that I think have now gone missing.
As fall starts to denude the trees and shrubs and puts the vines and undergrowth to sleep for the winter, we all need to watch for new additions to the unseen art in our midst.
and if you know who the artist is, I’d like to talk with them. They can remain anonymous if that’s their wish. Or if you see more around town, I’d like to be able to document them…so let me know about them, please: email@example.com