Intimate Exchange

Wendy S. Rolfe and Thérèse Mulgrew share an intimate bond as mother and daughter and a professional relationship as artists committed to their studio practice. They are part of an extended artistic family whose influence spans generations and is part of the fabric of Dubuque’s history. For the first time, Wendy and Therese’s multidimensional relationship and unique styles are explored together in this exhibition of 26 new oil paintings.

Intimate Exchange explores each artists’ profound observation of human relationships particularly their own mother/daughter connection as well as the other significant female influences in their lives. Their paintings tell stories through the people closest to them, personal objects, and historical references. In examining their works together, unique parallels emerge from their strong, independent styles.

Those distinct styles immediately greet visitors to the gallery in two portraits that the artists made of each other. Thérèse features her mother in bold reds and teals. Her figure fills the canvas and is draped in flowing curves of hair and an oversized shirt. Wendy is holding a small photograph of her mother close to her heart. In Wendy’s portrait of Thérèse, her daughter is shown simultaneously as an adult and a child. Her adult form melds into a red velvet chair with her younger self at her knee. The two forms are joined by symbolic imagery, particularly the flamingo, which appears frequently in Wendy’s works. These two portraits set the stage for the intimacy, complexity, and independence that characterize the artists and their work throughout the exhibition.

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Image credit: Wendy S. Rolfe, Safe Keeping, 2022, oil on panel, courtesy of the artist.


In Subtext and Overstory, Quad Cities artist Randy Richmond presents ten still-life photographs from his most recent work. Half of the images—the “subtext” of the title—were composed and shot with window light in his small 7’x10’ studio. The other half—the “overstory”—were created and shot outside, with the tree canopy as background, in a much more involved process of staging and lighting. Both bodies of work offer viewers exquisite compositions of colors and shapes in which the lines between inside and outside, the lifeless and the vital, are blurred.

The “subtext” works are sparsely populated a ball of twine or a vase standing sentinel in a velvety interior while the “overstory” works feature an immobile abundance: a bouquet of flowers in a jar of water is set against a rolling landscape, or a dingy, taxidermized swan sits silently in front of a pond. All of the images are quiet, rich, and mysterious. The result of a painstaking and time-consuming process, they evoke feelings but resist explicit narrative. In an era where sophisticated cameras are in every pocket and millions of photos are posted daily on Instagram, Richmond’s works are revolutionary and fearless.

Like DuMA’s concurrent Craft Invitational exhibition, Subtext and Overstory shows the transformation—via skill, artistry, and imagination—of everyday items and materials into objects and images with extraordinary power.

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Craft 2022

The works in this exhibition demonstrate the transformative power of craft where disparate, ordinary materials in skilled hands go from inconsequential to useful, from unremarkable to revelatory. As you walk through the exhibition, you will find a mix of materials transformed into an array of objects—from dishware and orbs in ceramic to a cloak and bound forms in fabric. Bringing these distinct objects together where they are equally considered for their artistic merit underscores the Museum’s commitment to making connections and expanding understanding through art.

The Craft Invitational highlights a select group of regional artists who are pushing boundaries in ceramic, glass, metal, paper, textile, and wood. Each artist combines high levels of skill and craftsmanship with conceptual rigor. Playful and expressive details emerge throughout. Small-scale metal objects and jewelry demonstrate masterful skill. Large-scale ceramic, fiber, and weaving-inspired installations push the conceptual line and reveal aspects of the human condition, from spirituality and grief to renewal. Wood and ceramic assume classic and novel forms. Glass expresses protest and meditation and internal conflict. Paper plays with transparency and light. The Craft Invitational artists carry forward ancient skills in innovative ways, maintaining a tangible connection to our handcrafted past.

A five-member curatorial team spent the past year selecting the artists and artwork for this exhibition. This exhibition is a direct reflection of their areas of expertise: Darlys Ewoldt, metal artist from Chicago, Illinois; Don Friedlich, metal and glass jeweler from Madison, Wisconsin; Carole Spelić, mixed media artist from Mineral Point, Wisconsin; Delores Fortuna, ceramic artist formerly from Galena, Illinois; and Paul Opperman, textile and wearables artist from Dubuque, Iowa.


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Image credit: Jill King, Cosmic Rose, 2020, Wall sculpture, welded steel, patina, sewn stained muslin, mixed fabrics coated with acrylic medium 51x52x11.5in., Courtesy of the artist.


In ten large-format oil paintings on panel, presented in the artist’s first solo exhibition at the Museum, Giannakouros lays bare this process, wrapping and framing contemporary female subjects in colors, patterns, prints, and motifs that render this invisible development visible.

Chronicle, the title of this exhibition, is rooted in chronos, the Greek word for time, and Giannakouros weaves this concept skillfully and subtly through each painting. In her hands, time is both long and short, classical and contemporary, individual and mythological. Embedded in these paintings are objects with significance that dates back thousands of years—apples, pomegranates, snakes—and patterns that have formed Giannakouros’s personal vocabulary, such as the mass-produced oil cloth found in the homes of her relatives in Greece.

In this suite of paintings, Giannakouros has created worlds in which her figures are wrapped in cultural and personal history, elaborately framed by windows and multiply reproduced, and reaching toward the natural motifs and elements found in the patterns and prints that surround and compose them. Symbolically layered and animated by meticulously rendered textures, the works in Chronicle explore no less than the shaping of the self.

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Art credit: Andonia Giannakouros, Boy with Apple (detail), 2021, oil and wax on panel, 41 x 48 in., courtesy of the artist.

Danish Porcelain

One of the most recognizable and enduring aspects of Danish culture is its porcelain. Art Nouveau Innovation: Danish Porcelain from an American Collector presents the fascinating history of Danish porcelain, including the technical and artistic successes that revolutionized porcelain production worldwide. Over 100 original porcelain works, on loan from the collection of Dr. Todd Reiser, will be on view at the Dubuque Museum of Art from February 19 through June 5.

The objects in this exhibition showcase porcelain from Danish manufacturers Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grøndahl from the 1880s through the 1920s. Founded in 1775, Royal Copenhagen is one the oldest porcelain manufacturers still in operation today. Throughout its history, the factory has experienced numerous highs and lows, and has weathered more than 130 years of competition from the Bing & Grøndahl Porcelain Factory. After 1882, the two factories were located less than a mile apart, with their flagship stores eventually competing side-by-side for sales in the heart of Copenhagen. Both Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grøndahl explored new forms, new techniques, and new artistic influences. From 1885 to 1920, both manufacturers reached new heights of artistic achievement, winning numerous awards along the way. Their output influenced the work of companies across Europe and created a global market for Danish porcelain.

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Art credit: Teapot with lid with gilding and white flowers, 1893, Royal Copenhagen, painter Jenny Meyer.

Camera Club 2021

The Dubuque Camera Club’s annual exhibition returns for an extended run, this year featuring images that explore the healing power of trees. Over twenty images of nature’s sacred residents provide guests a mental respite during their visit to DuMA.

This select group of arboreal images by Camera Club members offers a space for contemplation in the Museum and a reminder of the beauty in our world.

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Image credit: Stephonie Schmitz, Sunburst in the Hoh Rainforest

Vietnam The Real War

The Vietnam War left a deep and lasting impression on American life, including on the men and women who fought in it, the journalists and photographers who covered it, and the millions of Americans who supported it or protested against it. Thanks to an uncensored press, the world knew and saw more of this war than any other in history, before or since. In this expanded version of the exhibition Vietnam: The Real War, we examine how photography captured the War from national, local, and military perspectives. The experience encompasses over 150 images, artifacts from a local collection that were used by soldiers in the War, oral histories, and a variety of related programming.

Multiple perspectives documenting the Vietnam War come together in this powerful and thought-provoking exhibition. As we look back from the vantage point of half a century, this exhibition serves as a photographic record of the drama and tragedy of one of the controversial and darker chapters of the American experience.

Veterans, active military personnel, and their families receive free admission during Vietnam: The Real War.

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Image Credit: A U.S. soldier wears a hand-lettered slogan on his helmet, June 1965. The soldier was serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade on defense duty at the Phuoc Vinh airfield. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)


Geisert 2021

The Dubuque Museum of Art is pleased to present a new exhibition highlighting the boundless imagination and humor of children’s book author and artist Arthur Geisert. The original etchings from his newest book will be on view. The book will be available for purchase in the museum shop starting August 30th.

Arthur Geisert is the author of over 30 books, three of which have been awarded The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award. Born in Texas and raised in Los Angeles, Geisert came to the Midwest via Omaha and Chicago. He lived in Galena, Illinois for many years before crossing the Mississippi to settle in Iowa in 2007.

DuMA has enjoyed a long relationship with the artist, whose complete works are among the Museum’s most prized collections. Through the generosity of the Jack and Mantea Schmid Family, Arthur Geisert, and Bonnie Geisert, the Museum acquired all of the artist’s prints, books, and etching plates more than a decade ago—a collection that expands with each new book.

How the Big Bad Wolf Got His Comeuppance is the second book in Geisert’s trilogy of stories set in Clayton County, Iowa where he lives. Inspired by the county’s quaint towns and colorful countryside, Geisert incorporates his fantastical stories into his world. The first book in the trilogy, Pumpkin Island, came out in 2019 and was set in Geisert’s hometown of Elkader, the county seat. The third book is currently in creation and will feature trolls who live under the many stone bridges on the Turkey River, the main tributary in the county that flows into the Mississippi River.

Geisert’s book presents a new interpretation of the legendary three little pigs story. The mother of the three pigs warns them about the wolf, giving them the opportunity to engineer elaborate arrangements to foil the wolf’s plans at every turn. The story is written by Elkader Public Library Director Lisa Wilke Pope and illustrated by Geisert’s intricate etchings.

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Image credit:
Arthur Geisert, How the Big Bad Wolf Got His Comeuppance, 2020,
jacket cover, hand-colored etching on paper, 2021.2.1

Emotionscapes: Paintings by Joyce Polance

Joyce Polance was a Chicago-based painter for over 26 years before a move in December 2020, accelerated by COVID-19, took her away from the Midwest and back to her home state of New York. In this series of 14 oil paintings made since 2015, the artist expresses deeply felt, dark emotions through the visual forms of landscapes and cityscapes.

Her expressionistic paintings meld realism with abstraction, and focus on movement, energy, and emotion. Natural and urban landscapes take on human characteristics that reflect our uncertain times. As the artist explains, “In our current political climate of amplified voices and vehement certainties of belief, I explore what happens when things aren’t so definite. My paintings blur the definitions of figures and landscapes. Trees, water, and mountains scream, dissolving into creatures, churning with inner turmoil and expression.”

Polance was born in New York City in 1965. She attended Wesleyan University and received a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has exhibited internationally and has work in many private and corporate collections.

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Image credit:
Joyce Polance, Dream City, 2020, oil on canvas,24 x 36in., collection of the artist

2021 DuMA Biennial

Founded in 2003 and presented every two years, the DuMA Biennial is a competitive, juried exhibition that recognizes and honors the artistic talent in our region.

Preparations for the 2021 DuMA Biennial began in December 2020 when the call for entries opened to emerging and established artists residing within a 200 mile-radius of Dubuque. Following the jurying process, the selected artists were announced on May 6th and the exhibition opens June 26th. The DuMA Biennial features new work created during a momentous year. It presents a compelling survey of the period and provide a sense of where artists have found the inspiration to continue to create.

This summer promises greater opportunity for visitors to come to the museum to once again experience first-hand works on exhibit.

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Image Credit:
Stina Henslee, For Fanny Cassidy, 2021,
Ink, watercolor, spray paint, acrylic, and collage on illustration board, 30×40 in.,
Collection of the artist