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Pat Hidson
Elaine Scheer

July 19 through September 7, 2024
Reception: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 19 (Gallery Night)

Portrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art is excited to announce its summer exhibition, About Place, featuring solo presentations by Pat Hidson and Elaine Scheer.


With conceptually similar but formally unique approaches, both artists incorporate the present and past, as well as the physicality of place and memory in their work. Domestic life and intimacy set the tone as they weave the personal contours of their worlds into reflective records of existence. 


Milwaukee based artist Pat Hidson prolifically draws in sketchbooks to become fully absorbed in her immediate surroundings. For Hidson, the act of drawing brings mind and body into rhythm with observation and sensation. She might honor the rooms of her adult children’s homes or the wild landscape surrounding her studio with quick pen or pencil sketches. Drawing allows for an absorption of presence. Even the less tangible or observable condition of life stirring and time passing becomes compressed and translated in these animated compositions. On her website, Hidson quotes poet Mary Oliver to describe her practice: “I would like to do whatever it is that presses the essence from the hour.”


Hidson’s sketchbook drawings (some of which are on view) become the reference for her larger gouache works on paper or oil paintings on canvas. Shapes and gestures are taken almost schematically from the drawings to provide an armature for later improvisational layers where abstraction and color dominate.


Elaine Scheer, a Madison based painter, describes herself as a storyteller. In her cycle of small-scale watercolor paintings, she mines childhood memories with surprising detail and clarity which together become a visual biography or serialized tale of places, people, and familial interactions. 


Scheer began this series during the pandemic in 2020 when in-person teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison had been suspended. Under quarantine, she made sure to talk to her mother, who was in her 90s, every day. They found themselves reminiscing. Scheer said that both her father and her uncle, Alan Reed (the voice of Fred Flintstone), were also great story tellers and embellishers. Scheer almost naturally began drawing and painting the stories. After retiring from teaching in 2023 she turned full time to this series, which now totals 99 paintings. This is the first time they are being shown.


Scheer credits her colleague and friend Lynda Barry (who also teaches at UW-Madison) and the New York based chronicler of daily life, Maira Kalman, along with cartoonist, Roz Chast, for providing pathways of storytelling in art.




Pat Hidson is originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She received a BA from the University of Alberta with majors in art and English. After she married an American and moved to Milwaukee, she initially worked as a teacher and then furthered her studies at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, eventually gaining gallery representation around the country. Her paintings are included in many private and public collections. 


Elaine Scheer first traveled from California to Wisconsin in 1986 to participate in the John Michael Kohler Art Center’s Arts/Industry residency program in the pottery factory.  In 1988, she accepted a position in the art department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the ceramics area. Over subsequent decades she taught a variety of subjects and served as department chair. Scheer grew up in Los Angeles, earning a BA from Sonoma State University in 1979 and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1982.



Brian's Shop, 30 x 36.jpg

Pat Hidson, Brian's Shop, 2024. Oil on linen, 30 x 36 inches. 

White Sun Ranch.tiff

Elaine Scheer, White Sun Ranch, n.d. Watercolor on paper, 7 x 8.5 inches. 


Pat Hidson, Star Gazers, 2024. Mixed media, 40 x 30 inches. 

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