Wisconsin native Tom Uttech is recognized as one of the leading landscape painters working today in the United States. Often categorized as a Magic Realist, his paintings weave together a mystical world of both imagined and real elements. Uttech’s paintings are easily identifiable by their complex devotion to nature, one that is equally raw and wild and familiar and inviting. His inspiration derives from decades of travel to Northern Minnesota and the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. Uttech’s world is one of waterways, shorelines, and tumbling rocks precariously perched within thickets of growth.
Over the last decade, Uttech’s enchanted forests have become home and stage to animal migration, a natural phenomenon rooted in eons of animal behavior and evolution. Part fantasy, part natural science, these migration paintings are compelling not only for their settings but for the hundreds of species of animals flying, swarming, and bolting across his paintings on a timeless mission and in a perpetual state of reenactment. Uttech does not identify as an environmental artist, but his treatment of the migration subject has become synonymous with encroaching dangers that finds resonance in contemporary issues of wildlife preservation. Uttech is in many ways most comfortable in the north woods or the forests that surround his forty-acre farm in Saukville, Wisconsin, which is also home to his converted barn-studio.
Into the Woods is the artist’s first full-career retrospective that will include representative works from every period of his career, including never before seen early paintings and drawings as well a number of his large-scale migration series paintings from the last decade. In anticipation of the exhibition, MOWA commissioned Nin Gassinsibingwe, the most recent and in many ways most spectacular painting in his ongoing migration series. The Ojibwe title translates as: “I Wipe My Tears.” The exhibition is accompanied by a major gift of almost two hundred photographs that was made possible by the artist and the Kohler Foundation, Inc. The exhibition is curated by Executive Director Laurie Winters.