Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 2, 2012

Friday Foray: Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum ceiling soars to 90 feet

One of my photographs is hanging in the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Copper Mining by Joe Lasker, Calumet, Michigan Post Office

Okay, so it’s an image I took of someone else’s work: the mural “Copper Mining” in the Calumet Post Office that was painted by WPA (Works Progress Administration) artist Joe Lasker in 1941.

Wall of Inspiration (provided photo)

My photo of the mural is on display with other art on the “Wall of Inspiration” in the Milwaukee Art Museum exhibition, Animation: Art Goes to the Movies, which runs through January 6, 2013.

The exhibit in the Art Generation Gallery of the new Kohl’s Education Center is geared to kids and explores how Disney, DreamWorks and other animators turn to works of art to create their characters.

Apparently the style of the WPA mural inspired Pixar animators, as illustrated in a sketch of a fisherman for the animated movie “Finding Nemo.”

Here’s the info accompanying the Copper Mining and Nemo images:

Comparing the Pixar sketch and Lasker mural (provided photo)

“Look at the fisherman and then look at the image of the copper miners. See how strong and muscular the men are in both the Pixar sketch and the WPA mural? The fisherman scene is created in the style of Works Progress Administration (WPA) murals, which were painted in post offices and libraries across America during the Great Depression in the 1930s.”

In addition to the Art Generation Gallery the family friendly Kohl’s Education Center includes a studio and lab for hands-on and make-art activities.

I’ve made one visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum on Lake Michigan. It’s known for the landmark Quadracci Pavilion by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. TJ and I waited and watched the 217-foot wingspan of the Burke Brise Soleil unfold and fold, which it does twice daily. Very cool.

Inside, we spent time just taking in the stunning, soaring, glass-ceilinged and window-lined hall before checking out the impressive mix of American Folk and Decorative Arts and a wide range of works from Haitian to German Expressionist artists to Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Ahhh, to be under the museum roof with Picasso. Thank you, Joe Lasker.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday. Admission is $15; $12 for students, seniors and military; kids 12 and under free. Go on the first Thursday of each month and admission is free, courtesy Target.

The "wing" at the upper right of the MAM begins to unfold

Visitor Info Clicks:

Visit Milwaukee 

Discover Wisconsin

Calumet, Michigan, Keweenaw Peninsula

At the heart of the Great Lakes Gazette is Michigan, the Great Lakes State. But on some Fridays we’ll make forays to the rest of the region that touches the Great Lakes Huron, Michigan, Superior, Erie and Ontario:  New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario, Canada.



  1. Congrat’s to Joe, Kath, & Pixar – GOOD JOB to the like-minded artistic TEAM!
    Cousin E.

    • Hey Ellie, who knows when I can say I have something hanging in an art museum 😉

  2. Joe Lasker whose mural you refernced just passed away in December at 96.

    Attached is his New York Times obit.

    Tom Curran

    • Thank you for the information. What a talent. I will have to do a post about the loss.

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