Compendium 2012

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by Alex Rodriquez

Every four years, the Chazen Museum of Art presents an exhibit of faculty, former faculty, and affiliates of the UW-Madison Art Department.  The art exhibit, called the Compendium, will be showcased in both the newer part the museum and the older part formerly called the Elvehjem Museum.  The exhibit will last throughout the spring until the beginning of April.

The Compendium, which means ‘a summary’, is meant to give the community a wider look at the faculty artists at the University of Wisconsin.  The exhibit has been consistently presented at the Chazen about every four years since 1974.  There are 31 full-time faculty members in the Art Department at the UW, which are the main focus of the exhibit, especially a few new faculty members who will be participating in the exhibit for the first time.  There are also the emeritus faculty and other affiliate faculty like the staff at the Tandem Press in Madison whose art will be in the exhibit.

“It’s a sort of a snapshot of the breadth and range of the department right now,” said Tom Loeser, Chair of the Art Department and UW art professor since 1999.  “The faculty considers it a really important exhibition.  It’s really our best opportunity to showcase ourselves to the rest of the campus. We want them to have a sense of what is going on in the art department.”

The exhibit is a survey style show, and the entire faculty is invited to participate.  Since the art of the exhibit represents a larger body of work by each artist, the artists choose which pieces they want displayed.  Most of the art on display has been completed within the last year.

Although the show happens only about every four years, it is consistently one of the biggest shows the Chazen does.

According to Loeser, all the artists have works in varied forms of media, but printmaking is very popular.  Many of the artists’ collections will showcase mixed media art.  “I think that the faculty were very ambitious in the scale and scope of the projects they put in,” Loeser said.  The new addition to the Chazen allows for larger works of art, since the rooms are much bigger and able to hold larger pieces than the older section of the museum.

The exhibit’s opening at the beginning of the month allowed for viewers to talk candidly with the artists and discuss the art.  The opening also featured live music and a cash bar, “a big party,” Loeser said.

The exhibit opens amidst the opening of the newest wing of the Chazen where much of the Compendium exhibit will be featured.  This allows for much more of the artists’ works to be featured.  “I think a lot of people will be coming partly to see the show and partly to see the new museum.  I think because of the new Chazen the faculty really pushed themselves out into some new territory,” Loeser said.

Many of the artists who have been showcased before are exploring new mediums.  According to Russell Panczenko, the Director of the Chazen Museum of Art, the Compendium is not only a look into development of art and an exploration of new mediums in the UW Art Department, but also a look into the ever-evolving national art scene.

Every week artists featured in the Compendium exhibit will give 40-minute talks on their featured art, and museumgoers will have a chance to discuss the art with the artists and other guests.

Everyone who has contributed to this particular faculty exhibit is excited about the reception.  Loeser is one of many who have high hopes for the exhibit.  “Since I’ve been here, I think this one is the going to be the best show.”


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