Layers & Sediment: Steve Wellman Retrospective
March 22–April 16, 2011 at Kunzelmann-Esser Lofts Gallery, Milwaukee WI, curated by Susan Barnett
Copyright 2016. Susan Floyd Barnett. All rights reserved.
Portfolio: Exhibitions, Publications, Photography
An art-world outsider by choice, Steve Wellman is a contemporary artist who lives and works in Butte, Montana. Influenced by the natural and man-made environment in a region defined by a century of mining, Wellman juxtaposes and melds disparate elements into painterly, layered assemblages. His works incorporate a personal vocabulary of abstraction colored by the clear light and intense hues of the high desert and complicated by layers of crumbling detritus.
The 2011 exhibition included examples from Wellman’s major series from 1990 to 2010, with particular focus on his most recent work. This mid-career retrospective provided an opportunity to consider his body of work within a larger context, to introduce him to new audiences, and to survey a few of the myriad themes and mediums he has explored over two decades. While art historians’ research often builds on decades or even centuries of scholarship, this exhibition and the related thesis catalogue explored the process of historicizing the contemporary.