Recently I found myself in Wisconsin for my cousin’s wedding.
Landing at the Milwaukee airport late Friday night, my husband Marc and I hustled off the plane, prepared to race to the pickup area. Marc and I clock in at 6’3 and 5’11 respectively, and are insufferable long-legged fast walkers - we like to get to where we are going as quickly as we can.
Only, there was no reason to rush, no crowds to transcend or beat to the baggage claim. MKE was absolutely empty, bereft of other travelers. I looked over my shoulder a couple times and thought “Where is everyone?” and other strange paralel-world thoughts materialized in my head: “Am I on a show? Is everyone about to jump out from behind a trash can and surprise us?”
I guess that’s what happens when you go straight from east coast urban life to the midwest.
While we waited for our Lyft driver to pick us up, I almost lifted my phone to take a photo of the absolutely unpeopled pickup area. It would have been Hopperian, only there was not a single soul, not a single lone person who would have been the Nighthawks couple of the photo. Just nobody.
Before the wedding (congrats cousin!!) we made our way to the Milwaukee Musuem of Art, definitely a cool place and with parking so cheap (6 dollars!), so empty, and so available, that my constricted heart valves relaxed and blood flowed more smoothly through my stressed little soul.
The museum is home to a couple outstanding pop artist pieces. It’s not the worst or best Warhol or Lichtenstein, but they’re among the more dramatic, more romantic pieces from each.
Hiding in a more dimly-lit corner of the third floor, a room of Andrew Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, and of all things Kay Sage in one room. Kay Sage is pretty rare for me to see in the wild, where her partner Yves Tanguy shows up much more commonly.
The Norman Rockwell was good but this painting from Andrew Wyeth stole the show:
I died over this painting. The woman’s expression, her simple yet striking dress, and her incredibly delicate hand against the wall speaks more truth than anything else on the entire floor. There was so much power in this painting - like a painting that glows on the wall. It’s one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen.
The Milwaukee Art Museum has more art and more contemporary art than you’d think. It gives art more space than most museums in the west, and it puts new and old on the same floor. An O’Keefe sits just a couple steps away from an Olafur Eliasson. It’s worth a visit if you’re in Milwaukee for any reason, and even if you’re not in Milwaukee.