Museum to open first solo exhibition of works by contemporary Milwaukee artist in its history

Posted on May 8th, 2017

Museum to open first solo exhibition of works by contemporary Milwaukee artist in its history

Paul Druecke’s museum premiere of A SocialEvent Archive is historic for Milwaukee Art Museum

 Milwaukee, Wis. – May 2, 2017 – A Social Event Archive, opening at the Milwaukee Art Museum May 12, shows over 700 photographs collected during the span of a decade and is the first solo exhibition of a contemporary Milwaukee artist’s work at the Museum.

In 1997, Milwaukee artist Paul Druecke (b. 1964) began soliciting donations for contributing to his project, A Social Event Archive with the following guidelines:

One photo contribution per person. The photos should be no larger than 4×6″—b&w or color snapshots. The photos must document a social occasion, public or private, and can be current or historical. Inclusion of Title, Date, and Contributor’s name is encouraged. The photos are archived in the order received. The photos will not be returned. Submission indicates agreement to participate in all presentations of the Archive.

Ten years later, he had 731 pictures. In the Archive, “photographically arrested moments of life-flow are rescued from the pathetic, buried-in-a-shoebox, lost-in-the-attic fates customarily assigned them,” wrote artist David Robbins, whose interview with the artist appears in the exhibition catalogue. “Revived fragments of assorted life-narratives cross-reference each other, strike up conversations.” With this exhibition, a large portion of Druecke’s Archive is on view for the first time in a museum and, together with the catalogue, honors the twentieth anniversary of the project. Druecke’s Archive began in Milwaukee and includes many of the city’s residents and events, past and present; yet, its images could be from nearly any American city. It is, thus, able to speak to both the local and the broader, national communities—providing a snapshot of our collective social experiences.

“With A Social Event Archive, Paul Druecke sought to create a sociological typology that might capture how social interactions are collectively photographed, shared, and commemorated. The project predates Instagram and Facebook but predicted the blurring of private and public that such social media platforms allow,” said Lisa Sutcliffe, Curator of Photography and Media Arts. “Our performances for the camera—congregating, posing, and smiling—have since become practiced and conditioned by the knowledge of a wider audience. A Social Event Archive encapsulates an American past just before this dramatic cultural shift.”

A Social Event Archive is on view through August 13.

Images and a digital exhibition catalogue are available upon request. Authors for the catalogue include Curator of Photography and Media Arts Lisa Sutcliffe, Michelle Grabner, David Robbins and Lori Waxman.

A full listing of exhibition programs is below:

Gallery Talks
Tues, 1:30 p.m.
June 13, July 25 (with guest David Robbins), and Aug 1

With Lisa Sutcliffe, curator of photography and media arts

Member Drink & Think
Thurs, July 20, 5:30–7:30 p.m.
Enjoy refreshments and socialize with other Members before getting an insider’s look at the exhibition with curator Lisa Sutcliffe. Included is one glass of wine or beer from the cash bar. This event is a benefit for Members at the Art Advocate level ($175) and above. RSVP at 414-224-3284 membership@mam.org.

In Conversation: Paul Druecke and Jen Delos Reyes
Thurs, July 27, 6 p.m.
Lubar Auditorium

Participate in a conversation about the social practice of art: art as a means to engage and build community. Jen Delos Reyes is a community arts organizer and associate director of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Stay afterward for Paul Druecke to sign your exhibition catalogue, available at the Museum Store.

Presenting Sponsor: David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation

Catalogue Sponsor: Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation

Program Sponsor: Milwaukee Art Museum’s Photography Council

Image: Paul Druecke, A Social Event Archive, 1997–2007. 1 of 731 chromogenic prints, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and The Green Gallery, Milwaukee. Copyright Paul Druecke.

About the Milwaukee Art Museum
Home to a rich collection of more than 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, annually showcasing three feature exhibitions, and the Eero Saarinen–designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center and David Kahler‒designed addition. The Museum recently reopened its Collection Galleries, debuting nearly 2,500 world-class works of art within dramatically transformed galleries and a new lakefront addition. This reimagined space also allows for the presentation of additional changing exhibitions.