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A Fusion of Art and Nature at The Villa Terrace Museum

Artist Roy Staab Installing his exhibit at The Villa Terrace Museum

As the French painter Paul Cezanne said, "art is a harmony that is parallel with nature."

In a new three part exhibit, The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum hopes to harmonize both art and nature. Using its indoor and outdoor spaces to reflect parts of a whole, the museum is showcasing different aspects of the work of Milwaukee-based environmental artist Roy Staab.

Staab, who works in Wisconsin and around the world, creates large scale installations in places such as salt flats, marshes, lakes, and rivers. His way of creating art in natural spaces fits with the museum's goal of doing "something that brought the [Villa Terrace Renaissance] garden more in service to the museum," says John Sterr, the Museum’s Executive Director.

Sterr explains that in planning the exhibitions for 2016, the museum quickly thought of Staab and his 30 plus years of experience in "site-specific environmental art." It’s the first time the Villa Terrace has commissioned a site specific work of any kind. 

As a result of the commission, Staab created Shadow Dance in the lower terrace garden. The work is comprised of willow branches he collected in Milwaukee county parks. The two other parts of the exhibition, called Nature in Three Parts, include Suspended in Time; a survey of photographs showcasing Staab’s previous national and international installations, and Beyond Baskets; an exhibition Staab curated of Japanese baskets on loan from the collection of Jan Serr and John Shannon.

Shadow Dance is intentionally ephemeral. "It's artwork that's made with nature, within nature, so it's meant to be temporal and to go back to nature," says Sterr.

Staab's current trio of exhibitions runs through mid-September

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.