January 7, 2022—The Miller Art Museum in downtown Sturgeon Bay is set to unveil the first exhibition of 2022, Marine Life from Shore to Floor by Peggy Macnamara, which is scheduled to open on Saturday, January 15, 2022. The exhibition presents 35 large-scale watercolors depicting ocean life as well as behind the scenes research activities at the Field Museum, Chicago and will be on display through April 11, 2022.
Peggy Macnamara is an internationally recognized painter and has been the sole artist-in-residence at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History for the last thirty years. Macnamara has years of experience as both a naturalist artist and author and is often paired alongside scientists and conservationists to illustrate the subjects of their research.
The soon-to-be-released book, Marine Life from Shore to Floor, features the artist’s series of large-scale watercolors depicting the research of the Field’s Ocean Conservator Janet Voight, whose work takes her from coastal tidepools to deep-sea ocean basins. The paintings featured in the exhibition burst with color and depict in great detail the intricacies of the inhabitants and environs of the marine world.
Above from let to Right: Peggy Macnamara, Blue Ringed Octopus, watercolor, 2020; Peggy Macnamara, Aqua River Underwater, watercolor, 2020; Peggy Macnamara, Angler Fish, watercolor, 2020.
As an artist who regularly visited the Field to paint the inspirational surroundings, Macnamara eventually caught the eye of the Museum’s staff, who invited her to paint behind the scenes. So began a 30-year relationship between the museum and the artist.
“Peggy has an incredible story to tell, having self-created her career just by following her passions. She’s an incredible example of how staying true to yourself and becoming a master of what you love to do will bring you success,” says Miller Art Museum Curator Helen del Guidice.
Concurrently, the museum presents New Acquisitions by Wisconsin Women: Sally Duback, Pamela Murphy and Sandra Shackelford on the Ruth Morton Miller Mezzanine. In 2021, the museum acquired work by three working Wisconsin women artists for its permanent collection.
Artist Sally Duback (Mequon, WI) is represented with acquisitions that included a collection of 7 monoprints and 2 large oil paintings; works were a gift of Sally Duback and Kohler Foundation, Inc. Duback creates dynamic and poignant images concerned with the extinction of earths animal species and the deterioration of the environment. The artist contemplates that man is an invasive species, who’s poor stewardship is represented by careless skeletons interacting with threatened species such as chimney swifts, red panda and white rhino. The images are mono prints on handmade paper that Duback creates from discarded linens and shirting.
Above from left to right: Sally Duback, Tweetstorm, monoprint on handmade textile, 2017; Sandra Shackelford, The Last Farmer in America, graphite, 2002; Pamela Murphy, Me Myself, Oil, 1994.
One work by artist Pamela Murphy (Sister Bay, WI) was acquired; the piece is an oil painting titled Me Myself.
“Each viewer brings with them their own specific history, so a single image can mean different things to different people,” says Murphy.
Six other works will accompany the collection work, courtesy of the artist.
Finally, the museum acquired The Last Farmer in America from the Portraits of a Compassionate Humanity series by Sandra Shackelford (Green Bay, WI). Shackelford is a nationally recognized artist whose finely drawn realist portraits of marginalized people are accompanied by oral histories of the subjects they depict.
The work depicts the story of Dennis Miller, who talks of inheriting the family farm and his interpretation of the future of farming in the aftermath of shifting from a lifestyle to an industry.
The work will be accompanied by four additional portraits with oral histories, courtesy of the artist. The portraits include The New Immigrant, which depicts a 120-year-old Hmong woman named Mai Xiong. The oral history, taken by Shackelford, talks of how Xiong survived the invasion and colonization of Laos (Indochina) by the French, as a very young girl. Also on view will be Los Sueños de una Madre para su Hija (A Mother’s Dream for her Daughter), which depicts a mother and young daughter from Mexico, who came to the United States via “coyote” traffickers.
Shackelford’s humanitarian work began in 1957 as a member of the Pax Christi, a secular Catholic institute. The organization was dedicated to the improvement of the condition of the disenfranchised African American residents of rural Mississippi, at the time of the Civil Rights Movement and in the oppression of the Jim Crow South.
“My work, ultimately, is a commitment to peace. I have dedicated my work and my life to this principle. It is my intent that the viewer will be drawn into the depth beneath the whisper of graphite in a quiet, contemplative moment to reflect on a common and shared humanity,” says Shackelford.
RELATED EXHIBIT PROGRAMMING
The public is invited to attend a FREE public program on Saturday, February 19 from 1:30 - 2:30pm featuring exhibiting artist Peggy Macnamara. Curator Helen del Guidice sits down in conversation with Macnamara in The Studio Door to learn more about her watercolor techniques, perspective on wildlife painting and her 30-year post as the artist-in-residence at Field Museum, Chicago.
A FREE ARTIST RECEPTION will follow from 3 - 4:30pm. The public will have the opportunity to meet Macnamara and other exhibiting artists. With the rapidly rising COVID cases in Door County, anyone interested in attending is advised to check the museum’s social media and website for changes prior to attending.
The museum is located at 107 S. 4th Avenue inside the Door County Library in downtown Sturgeon Bay. Hours are Monday 10am – 7pm and Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm. The museum is closed Sundays. Admission is free of charge but freewill donations are encouraged; an elevator is available to access galleries on the second floor Ruth Morton Miller Mezzanine. Proof of vaccination is not required for entry into the museum; masks are strongly recommended and visitors are asked to practice social distancing. For more information about current exhibitions or the museum, call (920) 746-0707 or visit www.millerartmuseum.org.