When I think “art collector” I must admit the image that comes most readily to mind is one of a person with substantial means at his or her disposal; an Andrew Carnegie or Peggy Guggenheim. And certainly an “art collection” that includes large scale works by the likes of Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenburg, Ellsworth Kelly, Chuck Close, and too many other major artists to list must confirm this stereotypical image, mustn’t it? Well, much to my surprise I had to park that bias at the doors of the Haggerty Art Museum when I went there to see the current exhibit, “Selections from the Mary and Michael J. Tatalovich Collection.”
What I found most sobering, however, was not simply the remarkably perceptive choices made by these two collectors that were acquired with limited resources. It was to be confronted with the unassailable notion that, but for some art world savvy and a healthy dose of persistence, I might have amassed a collection of similar proportions. A profound revelation in this large and exemplary exhibition of outstanding modern and contemporary artists was that Mary and Michael Tatalovich managed to collect it during their careers as teachers in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Please don’t misunderstand me: this exhibition needs no such compelling narrative. It stands on its own merits and can be fully appreciated without reading the wall text that reveals this personal tidbit of information. I particularly liked discovering Richard Serra’s enormous etching, called Bo Diddley, which I’d never seen before. Serra can leave me hot or cold, depending on the piece and the context. This one works for me - but you have to see in situ. The scale is essential.
If, like me, you haven’t been to see it before now, try to make it before it closes on August 5.
While you’re there, be sure to stop by the small galleries to see two more modest exhibits that feature the photography of Tom Arndt and Mark Ruwedel. All of these shows close August 5.
You can read more about all of these exhibits at Third CoastDigest. Reviewer Brian Jacobson was more on the ball than I and filed his piece in June. But you still have 6 days to get over there!