Two exceptional Chicago artists are sharing a unique exhibit at the DeVos Art Museum in collaboration with the Corbett vs. Dempsey Art Gallery in Chicago.
Corbett vs. Dempsey is a commercial art gallery specializing in mid-20th century American art, with an emphasis on Chicago painting and works on paper from 1940 to 1970. DeVos Art Museum curator Melissa
Matuscak has worked with Corbett vs. Dempsey co-owner John Corbett several times in the past, and contacted him with the possibility
of featuring some Chicago artists here in Marquette.
“I am interested in how his gallery often exhibits Chicago artists who have had long careers as artists but haven’t been shown publicly very often, or haven’t had an exhibition in a long time,” Matuscak said. “I feel like the Upper Peninsula has a lot of similar stories of very talented artists who are not given adequate exposure, usually
because the U.P. is so geographically
Planning for the show began about a year ago, and several artists were considered. Matuscak and Corbett decided to feature
Margot Bergman and Philip Hanson, who are popular Chicago artists long connected to the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery.
“I feel they offer very different
conceptual approaches but visually the work compliments each other,” Matuscak said.
Gallery Manager Susannah Ribstein of the Corbett vs.Dempsey Gallery agreed.
“I think Bergman and Hanson are good artists to show in the same gallery because they have complimentary styles, but are still very unique.”
While Matuscak and Corbett wanted to feature both artists, they did not want a show that would mix the work of both artists.
They then decided on two separate shows within the same space.
“Even though the exhibition is meant to be two separate solo exhibitions, the work does exist together in one space,” Matuscak
“They wanted some diversity in the exhibit, but didn’t want it to be a two-person show where Hanson’s and Bergman’s artwork
would be mixed together on the walls,” Ribstein said.
The DeVos Art Museum will thus feature two separate exhibits, Margot Bergman: Dancing with an Unknown Partner, and Philip Hanson: The Operatic Canvas.
Margot Bergman has been active on the Chicago art scene since the late 1950s and her work primarily takes two forms. For one, she uses existing artworks, usually found in thrift shops or flea markets. According to the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery Web site, these collaborations are alternately playful, haunting, surrealistic, melancholic and evocative. They betray an incredibly potent imagination. In her other works, Bergman features either post-apocalyptic or prehistoric topography, populated by explosively animated creatures including rabbits, pigs, jackals, and birds.
“Margot’s work is about walking the edge of your own psyche. She really has a unique way of seeing the world and looking at paintings,” Matuscak said. “You can see she’s pushing herself to really explore the original canvases and really questions what she is seeing and why.”
Philip Hanson entered the Chicago art scene in the 1960s. His paintings are typically vibrantly colored and intricately patterned. According to the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery Web site, Hanson’s visual world tends to be oblique, subtle, multi-layered and sometimes
romantic. Primarily a painter, Hanson has also experimented with etchings and cloth forms, such as flowers, leaves and shells made out of canvas and then painted. Hanson’s latest work focuses on paintings in which he integrates text, usually poetry. Earlier work included a series of candy boxes, decorated with plastic flowers and painted with words or phrases such as ‘eternal passion’ and ‘dreamy.’ Hanson also explored painting elaborately decorated architectural forms including entranceways
“I think Phil’s work resonates with a variety of people; poets and literature enthusiasts can see the paintings and maybe read the familiar texts in a whole new way,” Matuscak said.
The DeVos Art Museum is currently attempting to expand its role at Northern, as well as in the community. The museum is focusing on exhibiting regional, national and international contemporary art, in the hopes of becoming an artistic learning laboratory for NMU, the U.P. and the upper Midwest region. The mission of The DeVos Art Museum is to provide the university and local communities the opportunity to experience original works of art and to foster educational opportunities for all audiences through exhibitions, programs and publications.
The exhibits opened on Aug. 20 and will run through Sept. 26. For more information call the DeVos Art Museum at (906) 227-2235. The DeVos Art Museum is located in the art building at the corner of Tracy and 7th streets on the campus of Northern Michigan University.