Wriston presents “The Modern City” -plk -dlh

Paul Karner

Coming back to the sprawl and clutter of Appleton is always a little disappointing for those of us who grew up in or around urban areas. There’s no denying that the city has its own particular charm, but it lacks a certain structural coherence and detail found in more populated areas of the country. It might be hard to pick out a continuous pattern in the cluster of low buildings that make up our environment, but senior art history major Laura Sivert’s show “The Modern City” provides a refreshing departure from the uninspired cityscape of Appleton.
The exhibit, shown in the Leech Gallery at Wriston, opened on Friday, April 1. It’s composed of prints belonging to Lawrence’s collection, many of them German Expressionist selections acquired in 1982. Each print depicts an urban landscape, with specific locations from around the globe. Gerald Geerling’s prints visualize the city in a beautifully calm way, or as Sivert put it, “a very quiet, clean, streamlined light.” Ludwig Meidner’s chaotic depiction of the city is so accurate that it seems to move, change, and redefine itself on the page.
Meidner and Geerling’s art may differ stylistically, but those differences play into a larger question of why artists are so often drawn to the cityscape as a subject. Because of the vast differences in its inhabitants and architecture, the city offers artists a chance to depict it any way they want: no matter what tone the artist chooses, it will be an accurate and honest depiction. Said Sivert, “I wanted to show how the city, a modern entity in itself, was the perfect vehicle for modern artists to express novel ideas about art and expression.”
Two other shows also opened at Wriston on Friday, alongside Sivert’s. Beloit art and art history professor Mark Klassen’s compelling installation is featured in the Kohler Gallery, and in the Hoffmaster Gallery, art history professor Alexis Boylan presents “Guys and Dolls: Gender in American Art,” featuring works which illustrate the gradual change in the artist’s depiction and creation of gender roles throughout American history. All three shows are inspired, interesting, and definitely worth checking out. The exhibitions will be displayed through May 15.