The Figge Art Museum presents “A Conversation with Tom Uttech" -- August 4.

Wednesday, August 4, 3 p.m.

Presented by the Figge Art Museum

Members of the Figge Art Museum who have admired the many works in the venue's current Tom Uttech: Origin are invited to enjoy a live audience with the artist himself, as the virtual August 4 presentation A Conversation with Tom Uttech finds the gifted Wisconsin painter and photographer discussing his process and inspirations while also answering participants' questions.

An American landscape painter and photographer who was born in Merrill, Wisconsin, Uttech received a BA from Milwaukee's Layton School of Art in 1965 and earned an MFA from the University of Cincinnati in 1976. A resident of Saukville, Wisconsin, the artist is best-known for his moody depictions of North American woodlands and the animals that inhabit them, and Tom Uttech: Origin explores the origin of the painter's work – specifically his relationship with the natural world and the North Woods, a place he has been fascinated with for decades and describes as “a land of glacial lakes, boreal plants and animals."

Uttech's self-taught photography skills date to the late 1960s and peaked between 1972 and 1983, when he shot and developed close to 1,100 rolls of black-and-white film. Working on photography and painting simultaneously, the latter came to dominate and formed the basis of his current success. His subject matter is usually derived from memories and emotional experiences from his many camping trips in Wisconsin’s north woods and Quetico Provincial Park in Northwestern Ontario, a designated reserve for canoeing and hiking located between Canada and Northern Minnesota.

In his biography at Wisconsin.art.org, Uttech states, “I would like people to understand they’re in the presence of an attitude, or an experience, or a story of a sort that has some kind of content. But they have to figure it out. I give them parameters so that their thinking is focused in certain directions, but yet they have to figure it out themselves. When you hear Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, you can remember a few quotes, but what’s more important is this incredible spell the story casts over you. That’s what really counts, that spell. Well, that’s what I would like the painting to do, too, to wrap a spell around the viewer and then, being enchanted by the spell, you go out and figure out what the heck this is all about.”

Tom Uttech: Origin features Kisibakwad, a painting that is part of the Figge’s permanent collection, alongside a selection of his large-scale black-and-white photographs that have not been seen before in the Quad Cities. The exhibition focuses on the artist’s enduring relationship with the north woods spanning the upper Midwest and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. “It’s like we are bringing the outdoors in,” says Michelle Hargrave, executive director and CEO of the Figge. “Visitors are going to be immersed in Tom’s love for nature – in his appreciation for both the small wonders of the world, and the grandiose. We’re thrilled to pair one of Tom’s pieces from our permanent collection with the exquisite photographs from the Museum of Wisconsin Art’s permanent collection.”

“Through his artwork, Uttech offers viewers new ways to experience and appreciate the world around us,” says Figge Assistant Curator Vanessa Sage. “We are fortunate to be able to share his work with the community, and we hope that the exhibition will inspire visitors to connect with nature this summer.”

A Conversation with Tom Uttech will take place from 3 to 3:45 p.m. on August 4, participation is free, and a Zoom link will be sent to Figge members prior to the program's start. Tom Uttech: Origin itself will be on display through August 15, and more information is available by calling (563)326-7804 and visiting FiggeArtMuseum.org.

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