In celebration of Expanding Perspectives by Mauree Childress and Door County Through the Eyes of Joseph Friebert and Betsy Ritz Friebert, an opening reception is scheduled for Friday, June 2 from 5:30 - 7pm. The reception is free and open to the public; music will be provided by Craig Schultz and Mike Miller and light refreshments will be served. The two new exhibitions open to the public on Saturday, June 3, 2023 at 10am.
Expanding Perspectives presents 35 artworks by Milwaukee-based artist Mauree Childress whose artwork magnifies issues of social equity for women and people living with disabilities. As a person living with a physical disability these two subjects have been, and continue to be, the focus of the artist’s sustained activism.
1. Mauree Childress, Homage Teacher, acrylic. 2. Mauree Childress, Yikes!, acrylic on dyed canvas. 3. Mauree Childress, Dreaming of the WASP, acrylic on dyed canvas.
A lifelong Wisconsinite, Childress received her degree in art education from the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse. She spent the early years of her career teaching, which preceded a 30-year period in television advertising. She went on to serve in development roles with the American Red Cross and later the Neville Public Museum Foundation in Green Bay. Now retired, she creates in her fully accessible home in Milwaukee and is actively engaged as a docent for the Milwaukee Art Museum where she contributes to Docent Learning Community workshops and Art for All, a docent committee dedicated to developing and promoting strategies and behaviors that encourage inclusivity for all visitors.
Childress’ Strong Women series, featured in the main gallery, presents paintings that highlight women who have contributed to making a difference. The series recognizes the importance of everyday women, who perform the necessary work to make our society function. From the 1942 machinist who worked in the factory during WWII to the 2021 essential worker, whose collective efforts in resilience saw the nation through the global COVID-19 pandemic, the series pays homage to the contribution of women’s work across history.
“I am interested in the everyday lives of people who push equality forward and expand our perspectives,” Childress states. “Since I was a young woman, I have been passionate about gender equality and women's rights.”
A collection of works in the west gallery on the main floor depict a variety of day-to-day experiences through the lens of people living with disabilities. These paintings invite the viewer to understand with a newly expanded perspective. The paintings are accompanied by a series of “groundscapes” that showcase the beauty and challenges of living with a mobile disability.
In 2013, Childress experienced an incomplete spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down. This forced her to transition her artistic practice from textiles, which required challenging physical ability, to painting and drawing. “Becoming disabled expanded my perspectives. I learned about the challenges of disability. I also discovered there is still value and beauty beyond, and through my artwork I portray aspects of my life. The groundscapes interpret and honor the often-overlooked precious ground we roll and walk on.”
Betsy Ritz Friebert, Man and Boats, Jacksonport, pen and ink, 1938. Joseph Friebert, Blue Landscape, gouache, 1966.
In tandem with Expanding Perspectives, museum visitors will have the opportunity to view Door County Through the Eyes of Joseph Friebert and Betsy Ritz Friebert featured on the second floor Ruth Morton Miller Mezzanine. The exhibit specifically encompasses scenes of the Door Peninsula from distinguished Wisconsin artist Joseph Friebert (1908-2002) and the lesser-known but equally as important wife of Joseph, Betsy Ritz Friebert (1910-1963). 24 paintings and drawings and three sketchbooks created during their visits to Door County in 1937 and 1938 will be featured. Additional paintings made on later visits to the region will also be highlighted.
Joseph Friebert is widely considered one of Wisconsin’s most influential artists, whose 70-year career includes serving on the art faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1946-1976. The artist continued to work in his studio every day well into his 90s, creating artwork in a variety of media, including watercolor, drawing, and printmaking.
Friebert is best known for his Social Realist compositions depicting the human condition and the plight of the midwestern, urban industrial workers in the interwar period of the 1930s-1940s. His early work expresses a brooding quality that extends to his views of both Wisconsin’s rural landscapes and its cityscapes, dating to a deeply troubled period in world history.
During this period, Friebert and his wife, Betsy, made several creative sojourns to Door County, where together they rented a cabin in Jacksonport, interacted with The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay, and practiced painting and drawing en plein air.
“The exhibition offers the viewer a new perspective on the life and ambitions of Joseph Friebert and spotlights how Door County has contributed to the career of this important, historic Wisconsin artist,” says Curator of Exhibitions Helen del Guidice. “It is a great privilege to be exhibiting these works and share with our audiences how his master techniques traversed his subjects.”
The exhibit also honors a donation of several of the Friebert artworks to the Miller Art Museum’s permanent collection through the generosity of the Joseph and Betsy Ritz Friebert Family Partnership.
MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER PREVIEW TOUR
Friday, June 2 | 4 – 5pm
Join Curator of Exhibitions Helen del Guidice for an intimate guided tour prior to the exhibit opening to the public. Free with membership.
Friday, June 2 | 5:30 – 7pm
Celebrate the opening of two new exhibitions and enjoy light refreshments, and live music by Craig Schultz and Mike Miller. This event is free and open to the public.
Saturday, June 3 | 2 – 3pm
Meet Judith Friebert and Susan Friebert Rossen, daughters of Joseph Friebert and Betsy Ritz Friebert, as they stroll through the exhibit and share stories of Friebert family sketching trips to Door County. This tour is free and open to the public.
PANEL PRESENTATION: THE ARTIST'S LEGACY
Monday, June 5 | 5:30 – 7pm
This panel presentation, held in conjunction with Door County Through the Eyes of Joseph Friebert and Betsy Ritz Friebert and moderated by Curator Helen del Guidice, will explore the Friebert story, their place in Wisconsin art, and offer insight into the important work of preserving an artist’s legacy with Graeme Reid, Director of Exhibitions at MOWA, Susan Friebert Rossen, former publisher at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Liesel Testwuide, Senior Manager of Art Preservation at the Kohler Foundation. A Q&A session will follow the presentation. This event is free and open to the public.
THE STUDIO DOOR WITH MAUREE CHILDRESS
Friday, June 9 | 5:30 – 6:30pm
A free artist talk, led by the Miller Art Museum Curator Helen del Guidice, that explores the careers, studio practices, and inspirations of local and regional artists.
EXPANDING PERSPECTIVES: THE FIGHT FOR GENDER EQUALITY
Saturday, June 10 | 1 – 2pm
Artist Mauree Childress will discuss the progression of women’s rights in the United States through a historical timeline, illustrated by her surrounding artwork in Expanding Perspectives. All ages are welcome. This event is free and open to the public.
Monday, July 10 | 11am – Noon
Meet Susan Friebert Rossen in the museum’s main gallery where she will share stories about the works included in the exhibition. This tour is free and open to the public.
Exhibition support for Expanding Perspectives by Mauree Childress and Door County Through the Eyes of Joseph & Betsy Ritz Friebert has been provided by Dennis and Bonnie Connolly, George and Kristi Roenning, and The Townsend Foundation with in-kind and grant support from Third Avenue Play Works and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The exhibitions will be on view at the Miller Art Museum, located in downtown Sturgeon Bay, through Saturday, July 15, 2023.
The museum is located within the Door County Library at 107 S. 4th Avenue, Sturgeon Bay. Hours are Monday 10 am - 7 pm and Tuesday through Saturday 10 am – 5 pm. Closed Sunday. Admission is free; an elevator is available to access galleries on the Ruth Morton Miller Mezzanine. For more information about the exhibits or the museum, call (920) 746-0707 or visit www.millerartmuseum.org. Find the museum on Instagram at @MillerArtMuseum or Facebook at Miller Art Museum.