Racine, WI May 4, 2016
Baroque is one of those words whose meaning changes slightly depending on
context and perspective—it could refer to a specific or general time period or to a
style of art, architecture, music, or other creative endeavor. Possibly derived from a
Portuguese word for a misshapen pearl, baroque has a history that has been
described as “long, complex, and controversial.” Open May 22, 2016 – September 4,
2016, Go for Baroque: Opulence and Excess in Contemporary Art illustrates how
the word “baroque” could be used as a gathering point—a commonality that aligns
artists drawing from many kinds of backgrounds and interests.
Historically, the term included works that were considered excessive, full of bravado,
and theatricality. While the past emphasis on baroque in art involved spectacle on an
elaborate scale, a contemporary baroque––such as what is suggested with this
exhibition––could be identified by its response to excess and lavishness, the
decorative or the ornamental, and the theatrical.
Primarily comprised of work borrowed from artists across the country working in a
wide range of media, Go for Baroque also includes examples from RAM’s evergrowing
permanent collection. These artists explore luxury, excess, consumption,
artificiality, illusion, fantasy, beauty, and the grotesque. For example, Lauren Vanessa
Tickle uses U.S. dollar bills to create adornment that challenges concepts of value and
materialism—money becomes something decorative, its own commodity, and a
material with a different meaning. Suggesting that his aim was only to make work that
should be “like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful,” Ralph Bacerra merged Asian and
American-studio ceramics to create vessels, teapots, and platters with elaborate
patterns and lustre glazes.
Suggesting illusion, artifice, and opulence, Leigh Suggs and Amelia Toelke have
created larger-size pieces that echo the sparkling and reflective surface interiors in
many a grand palace. In essence, Suggs has laboriously created a modern equivalent
to the multi-sensory experiences and events that were constructed in the Baroque
period. Her piece, Trying to Exit Here, is a grid of woven Mylar and paper strips—
begging to be touched, it reflects everything around it. Suggs’ work is both a
textured, rich surface and a foil to everything else in the room. Interested in the body
and exploring the theatrical, Kate Cusack constructs elaborate neckpieces made of
zippers as well as “Marie-Antoinette” style wigs made of household plastic wrap.
Other artists in Go for Baroque include – Bennett Bean, Doug Bucci, Tyanna J. Buie,
Sienna DeGovia, Misty Gamble, Tamara Grüner, Rain Harris, Hanna Hedman, Lauire
Hogin, Anya Kivarkis, Kate Kretz, Nine Levy, Jose MarÍn, Märta Mattson, Jennifer
Merchant, Jaydan Moore, Deborah Olson, Soohye Park, Jessica Putnam Phillips, Ruth
Reese, Lyndsay Rice, Anna Rikkinen, Stephanie Schultz (Silversärk), Melanie Sherman,
Linda Threadgill, Heather White van Stolk, Elise Winters, Marci Zelmanoff, and Petra
Go for Baroque: Opulence and Excess in Contemporary Art is made possible at Racine Art
Museum by: Platinum Sponsors – Karen Johnson Boyd and William B. Boyd, SC Johnson,
Windgate Charitable Foundation; Diamond Sponsor – Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation;
Gold Sponsors – Herzfeld Foundation, Johnson Bank, National Endowment for the Arts, Racine
Community Foundation, W. T. Walker Group, Inc.; Silver Sponsors – Real Racine, Wisconsin Arts
Board; Bronze Sponsors – Burlington Graphic Systems, Inc., EC Styberg Foundation, Educators
Credit Union, In Sink Erator, The Norbell Foundation, Orkney Springs Retreat, Rasmussen
Diamonds, Ruud Family Foundation, Inc.
Together, the two campuses of the Racine Art Museum, RAM in downtown Racine at
441 Main Street and the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts at 2519
Northwestern Avenue, seek to elevate the stature of contemporary crafts to that of
fine art by exhibiting significant works in craft media with painting, sculpture and
photography, while providing outstanding educational art programming.