By Jane Weinke, curator of collections
For the past several months I have been immersed in all things Owen Gromme.
The September 8 debut of the Woodson Art Museum building addition featuring a new gallery and the Marshall & Ilsley Collection of forty-three Gromme paintings is fast approaching. That means it’s time to confirm, finalize, and double-check myriad details for a successful exhibition. YIKES!
I won’t pretend that I knew Owen Gromme well, but I spoke with him in his studio, on the phone, and during many visits to the Woodson Art Museum. Preparing for a major installation of his works however, requires much thought, hours of research and writing, and planning, planning, planning. “The devil is in the details” is my driving motto.
Thankfully, I have overwhelming support from Owen’s family. Son, Roy, and daughter, Anne Marie Gromme, have provided furniture and ephemera to re-create the Briggsville, Wisconsin, studio in the new gallery. Anne Marie donated seventy-five pencil sketches drawn by her dad when composing the paintings, commissioned in 1965 for the Marshall & Ilsley Bank building in downtown Milwaukee and given to the Museum last year by BMO Harris Bank. These sketches are an incredible resource; some are being included in a publication made possible by BMO Harris Bank (details in a later blog) some will be framed in the gallery, and facsimiles of others will be shared during gallery tours. I cannot thank Anne Marie enough!
Facts about the history of the Marshall and Ilsley Bank project, and Owen’s career were provided by longtime friend Bill Webster, formerly of Wild Wings and the distributor of Owen’s prints and Mark Lefebvre, who along with Stanton & Lee, published the 1983 monograph, The World of Owen Gromme.