Friday, April 26, 2013

Milwaukee Art Museum Exhibits Cissie Peltz

Remembering A Remarkable Women

By Peggy Sue
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A tribute exhibition opened at the Milwaukee Art Museum in the Mezzanine Gallery April 23. The one wall gallery  while pared down for space, illustrates volumes about a remarkable, versatile woman in: “Remembering Cissie Peltz: Artist. Collector. Friend.”

A 2012 miniature portrait of the exhuberent Cissie Peltz came courtesy of Carol J. Pylant, an accomplished artist in her own right that Cissie represented. Also displayed are four of Peltz’s ink drawing cartoons, art for which she gained national acclaim in the 1950’s when few women were breaking into this traditionally media centered, male dominated career, and demonstrate her keen sense of humor and wry wit. One 1957 cartoon poignantly reflects, “I would write a diary but who would ever be interested in the facts of my life?”

Milwaukee does, and so what a privilege to honor this woman who was born in 1927 and embraced art her entire life, opening Peltz Gallery on Knapp Street in a large, two story Victorian house in 1989. At the time, she recognized a need for women to exhibit and began her annual  “Remarkable Women” shows in July. Often exhibitions planned for summer gallery nights, when Wisconsin women were invited and welcome to flaunt their extraordinary talent. This often included African American women, including collage artist Della Wells, renowned educators named Frances Myers and printmakers Kara Walker or Kiki Smith. Then Peltz would invite the artists and patrons into her gallery for artists’ talks at her unique continental breakfasts held  on Saturday mornings where the conversation continued long after noon. 

Another favorite artist named Warrington Colescott, who Peltz also represented, captures the clamor of Cissie's hospitality in the exhibition with his print “Gallery Night at Peltz, 2006.” While Colescott's paper is filled with people admiring the pictures, Colescott portrays a joyous Cissie with her arms spread wide open leaping up in the midst of the enthusiastic crowd. This was the Cissie to be remembered.

Several other prints and artworks represent the work Cissie contributed to the Milwaukee Art Museum where she was a vibrant member of the Print Forum and Contemporary Art Society.The eight artworks include Paul Wunderlich’s Joanna Posing for Redfern (1968), a color lithograph Cissie gifted to the museum in honor of Richard Peltz and the pencil and pastel on paper by John Nicholson Colt, Tropic Event (1980), gifted in memory of her husband and mother. Cissie’s generosity extended to everyone she met, and engaged the artists that she cherished as genuine friends. 

Also at the exhibit is a sketch book and pencils, available for drawing or writing a special memory to the Peltz family. Paul Wunderlich adorned an entire page with a spontaneous pencil drawing of a lanky, lovely nude. So please, add another memento in honor of Cissie or contribute to the Cissie Peltz Memorial Fund, a tribute to purchase an exceptional work for the Milwaukee Art Museum's collection in Cissie’s name. I will remember Cissie Peltz, her kiss on the cheek and warm hug when entering her gallery, as a special gift. She was continually glad to educate anyone to the nuances of all art, especially in printmaking, while she personally introduced me to the innovative and incomparable Warrington Colescott. Peltz Gallery will continue her legacy through the vision of family and trusted friends, so keep an eye on the gallery for future exhibitions and events, including a memorial service in the future to courageously remember the vibrant spirit of a this gracious, talented and remarkable woman, Cissie Peltz.

The Milwaukee Art Museum presents “Remembering Cissie Peltz: Artist. Collector. Friend.” In the Mezzanine Gallery through May 12.  

 

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