“I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but these works give me some incredibly intense feelings.” – my wife
I only recently discovered I am a “museum person.” I’ve always enjoyed them. I’ve visited a few here in there throughout my life. I worked at one for a few months and often find myself wanting to escape and seek comfort with some of the same artworks I’ve spent time with over and over again. I once gladly sat in front of a Francis Bacon work for 45 minutes while onlookers scratched their head and asked if I was okay.
It wasn’t until my wife, and I spent our first weekend in three years away from our two young children making a trek to the Milwaukee Art Museum that I thought to myself, it’s official, I’m a “museum person,” and I love it. The time away with my wonderful wife was terrific, although I’m not sure a nearly six-hour drive across a snowy Midwestern landscape was her first choice for trips, but selfishly, ever since I saw that the Petullo Collection was on display in Milwaukee, I had to get there as soon as possible.
From now until April of next year, the Milwaukee Art Museum displays dozens of works by outsider, self-taught, and visionary artists largely owned and donated by Anthony Petullo. ‘Playing Favorites’ is everything I wanted and more. A gallery on the mezzanine area of the enormously large spaceship-like building that is the museum is filled with bright colors and intense and raw works by some of the world’s most authentic artists.
I was so mesmerized by the incredibly large Martín Ramírez. I couldn’t get over how big and beautiful Eddie Arning and Eddy Mumma were in person. I had never seen Consuelo González Amezcua, August Walla, or Nek Chand work in person. And I had to go back before I left to take one more look at the works by Minnie Evans, Lawrence Lebduska, Felipe Archuleta, and my personal favorite, William Hawkins. To say the collection, which also features works by Bill Traylor, Bessie Harvey, Ralph Fasanella, and artists from Galerie Gugging, is a museum person’s dream is an understatement.
Ten years ago, the Milwaukee Art Museum became a leading institution in North America for American and European self-taught art. With Playing Favorites, we celebrate the large gift from the local collector Anthony Petullo that catapulted the Museum to this distinctive position. This special installation features more than 20 drawings and paintings by self-taught artists such as Minnie Evans, Martín Ramírez, Alfred Wallis, and Adolf Wölfli, including some of Petullo’s favorite works from his 2012 gift and others he is lending from his personal collection.Milwaukee Art Museum