outlet mulberry New Mathis Gallery opens at UW
MILWAUKEE Emile Mathis is no longer with us, but his passion for and knowledge of fine art continues to be felt throughout southeastern Wisconsin and beyond.
Mathis an art connoisseur and collector who owned a gallery in Downtown Racine for 40 years bequeathed a multi million dollar gift of artwork from his collection to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee upon his death in 2012. And on Thursday, Dec. 14, the university is scheduled to host the grand opening of a new gallery on its campus, named in his honor. in room 170 of UWM’s Mitchell Hall, 3203 N. Downer Ave., and is open to the public.
UWM’s Emile H. Mathis Gallery is a 2,400 square foot, state of the art space that replaces the university’s former Art History Gallery. Designed by Rinka Chung Architecture (which also designed Milwaukee’s proposed Couture apartment tower) the renovated gallery offers both enlarged exhibition space (from 900 to 2,400 square feet) and storage space (from 700 to 1,900 square feet), according to Linda Brazeau, director of the UWM Art Collection and Galleries in the Department of Art History. It also features a state of the art HVAC system, with temperature and humidity controls, as well as high end lighting, security and fire suppression systems, Brazeau said.
Raising the profile
The gallery’s renovation was made possible with funds Mathis gave to the university, in addition to his gift of more than 500 pieces of African art and more than 1,700 works on paper, spanning 500 years and including etchings by Rembrandt, Warhol and others. Mathis specified that his money be used for the renovation and expansion of the Art History Gallery, and one of his requests for the project was to raise the gallery’s profile, Brazeau said.
“To that end, we have a new entrance to the gallery, directly across from the student Union, that makes a visual statement,” she said, adding that she thinks Mathis would be very proud of the results.
The Mathis Art Gallery’s inaugural exhibition, “Legacies: ReVisioning the UWM Art Collection,” showcases extraordinary artworks, in a variety of media, that celebrate the collection’s “incredible richness, depth and breadth,” according to the university. It honors the generous patrons whose gifts of art form the UWM Art Collection and includes pieces from Mathis’ collection.
Mathis’ “phenomenal gift” was the largest ever given to the UWM Art Collection, Brazeau said. And one of the many wonderful things about it is that the works of art he collected are from time periods that just happened to fill in gaps that existed in the university’s permanent collection, Brazeau explained.
“We had prints from the 18th century and his collection filled in gaps before and after that,” she said. “It was an almost perfect blend of two collections, to make a really premiere collection.”
Mathis’ desire to have his collection be used to teach art also fits perfectly with the mission of the UWM Art Collection, Brazeau said.
“The whole purpose of our collection is for it to be used by the students,” she said. “When Emile saw how the artwork was used in classes, he was thrilled.”
The “Legacies: ReVisioning the UWM Art Collection” exhibition opens Dec. 14 in the UWM Emile H. Mathis Gallery and runs through Feb. 22. Monday through Thursday.