Paula Schuette Kraemer & Bill Weege

Paula Schuette Kraemer (see her biography for her information) Bill Weege Born 1935 In 1987, Bill Weege founded Tandem Press, which is affiliated to the Art Department in the School of Education at the UW-Madison. Like an artistic Pied Piper, he convinced nationally known artists to come and print at Tandem Press. The first artist who created prints at Tandem was his lifelong friend, Sam Gilliam. Bill Weege, one of the featured artists in the Center’s Since 1968 exhibition in Mitchell Hall, has quite the venerable past both as an artist and activist. At first, I must admit, he came off as a bit too much of an artist; he spoke of his art as if there were infinite ways to interpret his work. However, his art was based much more in the process with less emphasis placed on the deliberateness of the content. “Big was the thing. I threw everything into it, including the kitchen sink.” That was the call of the times, of course–agitation, finding meaning where there was chaos and random, terrifying Technicolor. Weege related that his MFA studies focused on the process of printmaking (screen printing, off-set lithography, wood cut printing), and the politics of the day. Others, Weege said, had rebuked his art’s political tenacity, asking, “Why do this? It will have no bearing later.” The haphazardness of the individual images would probably be hard to comprehend, and I think hard to defend in front of a tenure-track committee in the time it was created because too often we take the present for granted as the inevitable outcome of the narrative of history. Weege’s juxtaposed images do a good job of mixing it up so that one no longer has the luxury of viewing history in such narrow terms. He used photographs (he couldn’t draw), book pages (never mind the copyright law), and a city planning grid as the main attractions. The use of grids and numbers were a nod back to his city planning occupation: “I would count things. There were grids everywhere.” Lyrics from pop culture also help to create the piece’s own space in time. And the saucy images of naughty ladies? There to attract your attention. On his mental process Weege commented that “[Long Live Life] was all laid out. I had to think ahead—which was so unlike me. It turned out the way it was meant to, too, which was so unlike me.” Toward the end of his talk he noted that he had been accused of stealing from Vasarely, whom he had never heard of, but still he could not deny the possibility: “Maybe I had seen something. But you see something, interpret it, put it down, and you reinterpret it.” That’s exactly how his pieces work.
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