Experimental art displayed at the Walker

Jack Whitten exhibit spans 50 years of innovative painting

Jamie Halper

A collection of paintings in the Walker’s newest exhibit, “Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting”, range from collages of orange juice bottle molds to works created with a tool similar to a giant squeegee.

Misa Jeffereis, curatorial assistant and public programs associate at The Walker, said Whitten’s artistic style is highly experimental.

“He’s extremely innovative with the material of paint, so you’d think of a painting with brushstrokes or brush, but he experiments beyond that by making his own tools or thinking in terms of different viscosities,” Jeffereis said.

Sophomore Olivia Massie said she enjoys seeing art featuring variety and experimentation. “I like all kinds of art and how it’s each individual’s own creations,” Massie said. Jeffereis said Whitten uses a variety of methods to produce his unique works. “In his process, he’ll harden paint and then crack it and reformulate it into a mosaic, so I think he’s just thinking about the limits but also the potential of paint in a different way,” Jeffereis said. Jeffereis said the exhibit is on loan to the museum from the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. “We have a relationship working with The Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego,” Jeffereis said. “Touring exhibitions are a pretty common exchange between institutions, and particularly ours.”

Jefferis also said Whitten’s art reflects modern day issues and events, making it more accessible for students.

“Jack (Whitten) always is very interested in current events. He stays pretty hip with what’s happening with technology and mapping and GPS,” Jeffereis said. “There are a couple of paintings in particular that I think would appeal to a younger generation.”

One of these paintings, “9-11-01”, pays tribute to the victims of 9/11, according to Jeffereis. Another painting, “Apps for Obama”, depicts an iPhone screen containing modules that appear to be apps.

Freshman Macie Savage said she thinks it’d be interesting to see Whitten’s work, especially with its focus on current events and modern themes.

“I’ve seen a lot of art, (…) but it might be nice to see something new,” Savage said.

Jeffereis said bringing the exhibit to the museum will help give Whitten deserved recognition for his works.

“He’s lesser known amongst his peers from that time period, so we wanted to give him his due recognition,” Jeffereis said.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 24 in the Target and Friedman Galleries at the Walker Art Center. Admission is free for people under 18 and $9 for students over 18.

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