About the Exhibition

January 17–April 16, 2019

Saint John's on the Lake

For twenty-seven years Peter Dahlke taught art in Milwaukee Public Schools, encouraging his many students to be creative and express themselves. After retirement in 1997, he discovered the assemblages of surrealist artists Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp and the teacher became the pupil.

Being open to new experiences is not unusual for Dahlke. After graduating from Wauwatosa East High School, he served in the army for three years in Hawaii, the last year and a half as a medical orderly. He then attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he received a Bachelor of Art degree in Art Education followed by a Master of Fine Arts.

Inspired by surrealism, Dahlke’s current work reveals not just his own creativity, but his desire to connect with others in a manner that encourages personal interpretation or engages their own memories drawn from experience. He begins with constructed boxes made from pieces of old pipe organ wood, and carefully fills each box with an assortment of antiques, toys, tools, and visually-engaging objects to spark the imagination. For Dahlke, this act of creation is simultaneously one of discovery as he observes the interaction of the various parts which by some mysterious process becomes something whole.

Dream Spaces is the artist’s first major retrospective comprised of twenty-eight works. Dahlke has long been involved in the arts scene of Milwaukee and this exhibition punctuates his sophisticated fascination of dream spaces.