December 7, 2008

Watercolor Wisconsin exhibit opens at Wustum

Flowers and still lifes at the 2008 Watercolor Wisconsin exhibit
(Photos by Julie A. Jacob)

By Julie A. Jacob

The outside palette in winter may be limited to gray and white, but on Sunday the inside of the Racine Art Museum’s Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts was awash in color. Watercolors, that is.

On Dec. 7, the museum hosted the opening reception for the 2008 Watercolor Wisconsin competition, and attendees at the free event were treated to the sight of 106 watercolor paintings created by 93 artists throughout Wisconsin, including 18 painters in Racine. The watercolors spanned a spectrum of subjects: people, flowers, fields, cafes, mushrooms, a beach, a diner, Hong Kong lights, a New York street, and much more.

The Wustum Museum has sponsored the Watercolor Wisconsin juried competition for 42 years, and over the years the museum has gained a respected reputation for watercolor painting excellence.

...and some abstract paintings

This year’s entries were especially impressive, said Bruce Pepich, the museum’s executive director and curator, during the awards ceremony. Not only did this year’s competition draw more artists and entries than last year (317 entries by 185 artists), the entries chosen for exhibition form a “diverse, exciting, and interesting show,” Pepich said.

The paintings chosen for the exhibition, as well as the award winners, are picked by a non-Wisconsin judging panel. This year’s judges were Frank Paluch, a Racine native and director of the Perimeter Gallery in Chicago, and Martha Tedeschi, curator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago. The winners include 16 merchandise award winners, who received various art-related merchandise; three merit award winners; and three other award winners. In addition, the museum will purchase five pieces from among the entries for permanent display

The top winners of 2008 Watercolor Wisconsin are:
First place: Three Gourds and a Skull by John Wickenberg
Second place: Nina Nebraska by Richard Berns
Third place: Wild Garden in Fall by Jean Crane
The watercolors will be on display at the Wustum Museum until April 25. For more information, go to

Bruce Pepich congratulates first-place winner John Wickenberg

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