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December 11 through February 12, 2021

Hours: Thursday - Saturday noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment (



Rafael Francisco Salas

David Niec


Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present “What On Earth: Contemporary Artists + the Landscape,” from December 11 to February 12,  2021. The gallery is located at 207 E. Buffalo Street, FIFTH FLOOR, Marshall Building, Milwaukee, WI. Hours are Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment. Due to COVID, there will be no public opening reception.


















Mark Brautigam, Camp Douglas, 2018. Archival pigment print on baryta fiber paper, diptych, 40 x 60 inches. 

What On Earth features the work of three photographers, Lois Bielefeld, Mark Brautigam, and Lauren Semivan who take various approaches to the contemporary landscape. The exhibition also includes work by Steve Burnham, Thomas Haneman, Pat Hidson, Diane Levesque, Bonny Leibowitz, Shane McAdams, Marsha McDonald, Lizbeth Mitty, Todd Mrozinski, David Niec, Rafael Francisco Salas, M. Winston, and Christopher T. Wood.


Where at various times in history, the art world celebrated nature’s abundance with vast landscapes (Hudson River School) or scenes of idyllic rural life (American Regionalists), we are now in a time of the “Anthropocene,” an epoch where human activity affects all aspects of nature.  


The natural world feels increasingly compromised and fragile. The artists in What On Earth take many approaches to exploring these changes. Lois Bielefeld, for example, created a series of photographs of freeway islands. Neglected bits of land skirting freeway ramps feel like strange hidden patches of unkempt wildness in her dramatically lit night scenes. Photographer Mark Brautigam has spent several years visiting Wisconsin’s driftless region, noting the dramatic shifts from geological time to the fleeting human moment. Painters such as David Niec insist on a steadfast relationship with nature. Niec observes the night sky and makes paintings of moon and starscapes. Fleeing the light pollution of cities, Niec finds solace and poetry as the moon marks our earthly time by waning and cresting. New to the gallery are the large-scale paintings of New York based artist Lizbeth Mitty. Her post-card perfect monumental scenes ooze and flow in ways suggesting the momentum of primal substrates. 


Work in this exhibition celebrates and underscores our environment, inching along the fault lines of climate change, polar ice cap melt, air pollution, population growth, species extinction, ocean acidification, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, over fishing, urban sprawl, deforestation, water pollution, waste production, genetic modification of crops. In much of this work, what sounds dire manages to erupt in effervescent beauty, reminding us to take care, to notice, to preserve. 

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