Craig Blietz 'Herd' Exhibition at the Museum of Wisconsin Art

*to view this article on the MOWA website please click HERE

Craig Blietz: Herd 

October 13, 2018–January 13, 2019

In the Hindu religion, cows are regarded as sacred. Wisconsin’s cows aren’t quite so exalted, but in “America’s Dairyland”—home to more than 9,500 dairy farms, with 1.28 million cows each producing an average of 2,500 gallons of milk per year—they are rightfully prized for their economic value. Wisconsin’s “cash cow” economy is inextricably linked to its cultural identity.

Craig Blietz lives and works in Sister Bay, Door County, located in the state’s lush northeastern peninsula where farms are abundant and the spotted patterns of cows on hillsides are a ubiquitous sight. Local Door County farmers know the painter well and readily welcome him into their barnyards. Not only can Blietz effortlessly distinguish one animal from the next, but he can easily recite the names of his favorite models—Ginger, Lady, and Jerry, a Braham bull, among them. Much like cherished photographs of lost loved ones, more than a few paintings have lingered in his home after his muses passed on or went to petting zoos. Sentimentality aside, Blietz is far from a conventional animal or landscape painter. He is well aware of the long history of cow painters (both in the US and Europe), but he is unconcerned with precedent or art-historical dissertations when it comes to his own work.

Herd, the artist’s first solo exhibition at MOWA, features a new body of work of twenty-three paintings that depict his beloved cows. Created specifically for MOWA’s white cube gallery, Blietz’s heroic cow parade is the perfect marriage between barnyard chic and SoHo hip. As seen in Helianthus, Blietz places his impeccably drawn cows front and center, allowing them to float in a depthless background of muted agrarian symbols, such as sunflowers, corn stalks, and barns. The abstract designs of his cowhides read like boldly patterned canvases within canvases. The resulting scenes—part Barbizon School, part psychedelic, part Robert Motherwell—are a unique contribution to American art and deserve attention beyond the Midwest.

Opening Party 
Saturday, October 13 | 2:00–5:00 
Meet Craig Blietz and enjoy art making in the studio, live music, light bights, and a cash bar.
Free with Membership | Walk-ins Welcome

Artist Talk 
Saturday, November 3 | 2:00–3:00 
Craig Blietz talks cattle, culture, and craft.
Free with Membership | Walk-ins Welcome

Conversations with Craig 
Saturday, December 1 | 2:00–5:00 
Drop by the Hyde Gallery to meet Craig Blietz. Plus, purchase your copy of the exhibition catalogue during the Champagne Shopping Party in the MOWA Shop and get it signed. 
Free with Membership | Walk-ins Welcome

Drawing Cattle with Craig Blietz
Saturday, December 8 | 10:30–3:00 
Door County artist Craig Blietz will teach you techniques that influence the construction of a convincing drawing.  
$80 with Membership