Acclaimed landscape painter and Wisconsin artist Tom Uttech has spent his entire life going into the woods. This fall, MOWA will present a major retrospective of his work in a museum-wide exhibition that will feature hundreds of works that span his entire career. From early photographs to a painting completed in 2018 specifically for the museum, this special exhibition will take you Into the Woods.
About the Artist
Tom Uttech, painter, photographer and teacher was born and raised in Wisconsin’s north woods. His memories and experiences have emotionally and passionately influenced his art throughout his career.
In 1965, Tom received his B.A. from the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee and his M.F.A in painting from the University of Cincinnati in 1976. In his early artwork Uttech felt pressured by friends and colleagues to conform to their ideals of art and was soon so disillusioned that he actually quit painting for a few years. This time was spent teaching at UW-Milwaukee as a Professor of Art and enjoying family life. After a few years he re-established himself as an artist and developed his stylistic landscape paintings. Uttech was often inspired by Vermeer and Leonardo da Vinci as he related to their design, expression and storytelling by studying their paintings.
In the mid 1980’s, Uttech purchased a farm with a barn studio in Saukville and over the years slowly developed the surrounding fields into natural prairie. His love of nature has made him an advocate of prairie restoration and he is also an avid bird watcher.
Uttech's self-taught photography skills date to the late 1960s and peaked between 1972-1983 when he shot and developed close to 1,100 rolls of black and white film. Working on photography and painting simultaneously, the latter came to dominate and formed the basis of his current success. Uttech’s subject matter is usually derived from memories and emotional experiences from his many camping trips in Wisconsin’s north woods and Quetico Provincial Park in Northwestern Ontario; designated reserve for canoeing and hiking, located between Canada and Northern Minnesota.
Uttech has been a member and past president of Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors and has exhibited his work throughout the United States. In 2002, an etching by Tom was represented in “The Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Portfolio: 150 Years, 15 Artists.” In 2006, he received a Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by the West Bend Art Museum, Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors / Wisconsin Artists in all Media and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. He is represented by Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee and Schmidt Bingham Gallery in New York City. Uttech's wife Mary, is a graphic designer. He has two daughters and a son.
As Uttech reflects on his art and the viewer’s understanding of it, he says, “I would like people to understand they’re in the presence of an attitude, or an experience, or a story of a sort that has some kind of content. But they have to figure it out. I give them parameters so that their thinking is focused in certain directions, but yet they have to figure it out themselves. When you hear Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, you can remember a few quotes, but what’s more important is this incredible spell the story casts over you. That’s what really counts, that spell. Well, that’s what I would like the painting to do, too, to wrap a spell around the viewer and then, being enchanted by the spell, you go out and figure out what the heck this is all about.”