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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Dedicated to Art

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Commemoratingthe 100-year birth date of Milwaukee’s Santos Zingale, the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MWA) showcases the work of this prolific artist honored posthumously with the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. The exhibition “Santos Zingale: A Retrospective” opens March 5 and presents 40 pieces of artwork, primarily oil paintings, from the years 1929-1993. An emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Zingale inspired future artists even beyond his retirement from teaching in 1978, continually painting until his death at age 91.

Zingale’s artwork defies stylistic definition, with the 70-year span of his career capturing a variety of subjects. Beginning in the ’20s and lasting through the Depression, his artistic themes represented social and political issues that included paintings of people overlooked in society, including several murals for the WPA Federal Art Project.

Further into his career, urban neighborhoods, city landscapes and visions of his historical homeland of Italy and America’s Western vistas encouraged his imagination and often included a surrealist component. The oil on board Playthings in Show Window (1949) displays a slightly distorted perspective, showing children peering through glass windows at toys, as does the overlapping caf furniture in Paris Chairs, adding an element of fantasy to his paintings.

Speaking about her husband, Joan Zingale recalls, “Santos always painted or drew what he wanted. Although he learned from current movements in the art world, he never let it influence what he painted. “He also sketched all his paintings on paper first, and I have all these wonderful black-and-white drawings they couldn’t put in the show because of space,” she adds. “He’d sketch them on canvas with charcoal, spray [to fix the drawing] and begin to paint. He dreamt up all those beautiful colors in his mind and put those in his paintings.”

Joan Zingale visits the MWA on Sneak Peek Friday, March 7, at 10:30 a.m. and at the opening reception, March 9, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. A panel discussion starting at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday will speak to Zingale’s importance in Wisconsin history as a dedi- cated teacher and artist. The exhibit runs through April 20. The Waukesha Art Crawl 50—“The Get Lucky Crawl”—will see the dedication of a piece of public art at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 1, in the community room of the Waukesha Public Library.

The city will celebrate the mixed-media painting Tradition on the Line by Janet Roberts. This group portrait pictures ordinary women over the stripes of an American flag that is mounted on a quilt, and honors the memory of library director Dorothy Mae Naughton.

After the ceremony, travel to various art galleries along Main Street in the historic downtown, or stop at the Waukesha Civic Theatre lobby for a Symphony String performance at 6 p.m. The new Neighbor’s Social Club and Sprizzo Gallery Caf offer art, refreshments and live music that ends the “Get Lucky” evening at 10 p.m.

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