Polynesian Fusion

May 26 to September 18, 2022
Opening Reception: May 26, 5 to 7 pm
Artist Talk at 5:30 pm

Distinctive cast bronze forms inspired by unusual shapes and complex patterns of Oceanic nations and cultures will be presented on tall pedestals amongst the courtyard gardens of the Cedarburg Art Museum. These “Polynesian Fusion” sculptures were imagined and crafted by West Bend sculptor Tom Lidtke in the 1990s after an influential visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s display of Oceanic art. This summer, his sculptures will enhance the form and texture of the organic material in the outdoor environment.

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Oceanic Cradle, cast bronze and wood base covered in powered bronze, 1996, 6.25" x 14" x 2", 28"

Mesoamerican Mystery, cast bronze and wood base covered in powered bronze, 1997, 6.75" x 12" x 3.75", 48"

Lidtke credits the Met’s collection for widening his view of various designs and textures of wood carving found throughout Polynesia. Those forms were traditional, utilitarian objects with surface decorations aesthetically enhanced with stylized textural patterns. While Lidtke spent much of his earlier career working with wood and still enjoys the beauty of woodgrain and handling certain tree species, he wanted to explore the fusing of oceanic inspired forms with cast bronze due to the material’s permanency and ability to create such detail that even fingerprints can be revealed. 
 
Tom Lidtke began his artistic training as hundreds if not thousands of other children did with Jon Gnagy’s television program “Learn to Draw.” A subconscious impact on his art interest was from his late grandmother who was an early 20th Century china painter of landscapes and whose paintings hung on the walls of his childhood home. During his early career, Lidkte taught studio art in Wisconsin and South Australia for a decade. While teaching, he presented an array of artistic styles and media that guided him to find his own style and media choices. Lidtke, the retired Director of the Museum of Wisconsin Art, is the co-author of the Cedarburg Art Museum’s new publication A Creative Place: The History of Wisconsin Art.

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Thank you to our exhibition sponsor: