Exhibition of painting, photography of natural world opens at Figge Art Museum

Local News

An exhibition on the natural world as depicted through the painting and photography of Tom Uttech is now at the Figge Art Museum, 225 West 2nd St., Davenport.

“It’s like we are bringing the outdoors in,” said Michelle Hargrave, executive director and CEO of the
Figge, said in a news release. “Visitors are going to be immersed in Tom’s love for nature—in his appreciation for both the small wonders of the world, and the grandiose. We’re thrilled to pair one of Tom’s pieces from our permanent collection with the exquisite photographs from the Museum of Wisconsin Art’s permanent collection.”

“Tom Uttech: Origin” features “Kisibakwad,” a painting that is part of the Figge’s permanent collection, alongside a selection of his large-scale black and white photographs that have not been seen before in the Quad Cities. The exhibition focuses on the artist’s enduring relationship with the north woods spanning the upper Midwest and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada.

Uttech describes the region as “a land of glacial lakes, boreal plants and animals, and few human
inhabitants.When I am there, I feel at home, complete, and invisible.”

“Through his artwork, Uttech offers viewers new ways to experience and appreciate the world around us,” said Figge Assistant Curator Vanessa Sage. “We are fortunate to be able to share his work with the community, and we hope that the exhibition will inspire visitors to connect with nature this summer.”

From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Uttech photographed more than 1,000 rolls of film in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada—the subject of many of the photographs in “Origin.”

While Uttech is an accomplished photographer, he is best known for his landscape paintings. Based on his memories and forged from his imagination, these works have a magical dream-like quality.
“Kisibakwad is an example of his work wherein dozens of delicately painted birds fly among
towering pine trees, and bears and bobcats gaze at the viewer from their home in the woods.

Born in northern Wisconsin, Uttech has had a strong connection with nature throughout his life—as an avid bird watcher, a conservationist, a hiker, and as a painter and photographer. He was a longtime professor of art at the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee) prior to his retirement in 1998, has had his work exhibited across the country, and is represented in collections of the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Philbrook Museum of Art, and the Figge Art Museum, among many others.

The exhibition, sponsored by GoGo Enterprises, LLC, will be on view through Aug. 15. Tickets are available at the museum entrance or online in advance, at www.figgeartmuseum.org.

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