Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Charles Van Schaick
June 12 - August 30, 2015
Opening reception: June 12, 6-8pm.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, and Charles Van Schaick are renowned Wisconsin photographers who emerged from three different centuries to garner fame from the gentle peculiarities of their long-term projects. Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to unite them for the first time in this important exhibition.
Wis-Con-Sin: Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Charles Van Schaick will present about 75 photographs that show compelling intersections between these three unique bodies of work. Wisconsin is known as a fertile source of independently spirited artists and environments. This exhibition examines the layered influences between a self-taught artist, a small town photographer and the contemporary collaborative team, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910 – 1983) was born in Marinette, Wisconsin, but spent much of his adult life in a small house in Milwaukee. He created art there for 40 years amounting to several thousand works in various media. After Eugene died, the work was brought to the attention of Milwaukee Art Museum director Russell Bowman. Besides apocalyptic oil paintings, ceramic crowns and vessels, he and his wife Marie (Eveline Kalke) collaborated on photographs that staged Marie in provocative poses and costumes. Eugene had met Marie at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1940. They married in 1943 and were together until Eugene’s death in 1983. Now internationally famous, EVB (as he is known) has had many museum exhibitions and was included in the 2013 Venice Biennale. The Kohler Foundation in Sheboygan owns and has conserved much of his work. Portrait Society is pleased to present 12 black and white vintage photographs of Marie, printed by Eugene, and one hand-tinted original color portrait. The work is courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York.
Charles Van Schaick (1852-1946) worked in Black River Falls for more than 60 years as the town photographer in an era before cameras were available to the masses. He opened his photographic studio in 1879. About 60 percent of his approximately 5,700 extant glass plate negatives are studio portraits. The other 40 percent include street scenes, major events in the region, outdoor family and group photos, buildings, picnics and people and their livestock. The Van Schaick collection, housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, was made famous in 1973 when the writer and doctoral student Michael Lesy published the book “Wisconsin Death Trip,” featuring Van Schaick images alongside excerpted newspaper accounts and records from the area and time period. The book was made into a film by James Marsh in 1999. Portrait Society has created a limited edition series of prints in collaboration with the Wisconsin Historical Society that will be available through the gallery. Susan Barnett provided curatorial assistance for this project.
J. Shimon & J. Lindemann have collaborated as artists since 1983, choosing to focus on rural Wisconsin towns not far from where they both grew up. As Wisconsin’s pre-eminent contemporary photographers, they use antiquarian cameras and printing techniques to record post-industrial settings, rural landscapes, small towns and shifting modes of life. Their rich interchange between place and people sits alongside Von Bruenchenhein and Van Schaick’s works in an associative conversation about human relationships in particular times in history.
A retrospective of their work was held at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, through June 2015 and included a major catalog. In 2014, Shimon & Lindemann were named “artists of the year” by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and received the Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Award from the Museum of Wisconsin Art this year. They have done editorial work for the New York Times, and their work has been published in Visiting Tom by Michael Perry (Harper Collins, 2012), Unmasked & Anonymous: Shimon & Lindemann Consider Portraiture by Lisa Hostetler (Milwaukee Art Museum, 2008), Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis (Abrams, 2003), Photography’s Antiquarian Avant-Garde: The New Wave in Old Processes by Lyle Rexer (Abrams, 2002), and Wisconsin Then and Now by Nicolette Bromberg (UWPress, 2001). They have exhibited their prints in galleries and museums in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. They live in Appleton, Wi. where they are associate professors of art at Lawrence University.
Review, Shepherd Express, Kat Kneevers