Current Exhibitions

Paper: Medium and Message

Anna Lambrini Moisiadis, Elizabeth Rhoads Read, Lee Emma Running, Carrie Ann Schumacher, and Michael Velliquette

February 17, 2018 - May 13, 2018


Paper is among the oldest known materials used for artistic expression. Traditionally employed as a surface upon which to create and make marks, contemporary artists have increasingly turned to paper as an expressive medium, in and of itself. Paper: Medium and Message presents ten works by five contemporary regional artists who create dazzling sculptures made of paper, revealing the extraordinary possibilities of this ordinary medium.

Anna Lambrini Moisiadis, of New Glarus, Wisconsin, creates elegant sculptures, often from a single sheet of paper. Moisiadis says, “Like the architecture I grew up with, the paper I work on is constructed, built on, demolished, and renovated through cutting, stacking, stitching, and repeated marks.”­

Elizabeth Rhoads Read, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, crafts three-dimensional forms from simple materials including paper and fabric. Inspired by nature, Read’s works play with space, texture, and color to express the intensity of human emotions.

Lee Emma Running, of Grinnell, Iowa, investigates the beauty and complexity of natural phenomena in her artworks. Running’s installation, Watercourse: Mississippi, which spans 28 feet, employs hand-dyed fabric and molded handmade paper to trace the random yet rhythmic movements of water.

Carrie Ann Schumacher, of Chicago, fashions elaborate dresses from the pages of romance novels. Described by the artist as “seductively beautiful” but without function, Schumacher’s dresses represent the futility of feminine myths in real life.

Michael Velliquette, of Madison, Wisconsin, hand-cuts paper shapes and assembles them into complex forms akin to sacred architecture. The formal symmetry of Velliquette’s work is intended to evoke a sense of balance and order.

Isabel Barbuzza: (In) Materialities

February 17, 2018 - May 13, 2018

Isabel Barbuzza

Iowa artist and Argentina-native Isabel Barbuzza explores how cultural artifacts and materials influence and shape our perception of the world.

Through combining, altering, and transforming materials, including books, maps, and found objects, to create compelling sculptures and installations, Barbuzza contrasts the worldviews of her native and adopted countries. The artist says, “Through perception, thought, and language, we engage with the physical world in unexpected ways.”

This exhibition is on view in the museum’s lobby and balcony gallery.

Charles Thwaites, The Binder

Charles Thwaites: An American Journey

January 20, 2018 - April 22, 2018

Charles Thwaites

This major retrospective seeks to reintroduce Charles Thwaites (1904-2002), a Wisconsin artist who responded to changing artistic trends in the mid-twentieth century, to a new audience. Most of the 43 paintings, drawings, and prints in this exhibition are drawn from the collection of the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA). The Dubuque Museum of Art proudly includes a portrait from Thwaites’ Taos period, donated to the museum from the artist and recently restored thanks to donations to the museum’s Conservation Corner.

In 1926 Thwaites abandoned engineering studies for art and in the following two decades he became one of the leading realist painters in America with ninety exhibitions at prestigious venues. In Wisconsin, he was the go-to artist for official portraits, and completed four post office murals under the auspices of the WPA. Six of the mural studies are included in this exhibition. He lived in Dubuque briefly in 1928, serving as director of the Dubuque Little Institute and teaching at the Dubuque Art Association while finishing his art degree.

In 1954, Thwaites moved to New Mexico. The move marked a fresh chapter and a significant artistic shift, but meant his reputation in Wisconsin faded, particularly as the realist style he had mastered was falling out of favor. Stylistically, his realism slowly transitioned to abstraction and he became a member of the “Taos Moderns” group.

The 1960s and 1970s saw Thwaites produce mostly abstract work but by the early 1980s he ceased painting. When he died in 2002, his name had faded from both the Southwestern and Wisconsin art scenes rendering him a forgotten man in both New Mexico and his home state. The journey Charles Thwaites undertook over the course of his life was not just one of physically relocating from one state to another, but really from one culture to another and one artistic style to another. Graeme Reid, MOWA’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions (and curator of this exhibition) has long championed Thwaites’ painting. “It’s exceptionally rare for any artist to be so successful in one style and make a smooth, almost effortless, transition to another. Whether it was realism or abstraction, Charles Thwaites could do both with confidence and originality.”