Gregory Van Maanen (NY) started painting after his return from a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969. Plagued by several near-death experiences and the extreme violence of war, Van Maanen found his art making, which he described as “self-preservation sometimes shared with others,” offered an escape from the faces and disturbing memories that dwelled deep in his mind. Although the effects of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have lessened over the years, he remains a firm believer in the healing power of art for veterans and nonveterans alike. Today, his body of work includes several thousand paintings, drawings, sculptures, and found objects featuring skulls, all-seeing eyes, open palms, glowing hearts, and a range of personalized symbols of protection and “good magic.” In 2007, his oeuvre at that time—nearly 3,000 individual works of art—was acquired by the Arts Center and a large portion was exhibited as part of the 2009 exhibition AMERICAN STORY. This first solo exhibition of the works can be understood as a diary of pain and healing.
Our gratitude is extended to The Frank G. and Frieda K. Brotz Family Foundation, the West Foundation, Sargento Foods Inc., and the Herzfeld Foundation for major support of this exhibition and to the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding also was provided by the members of the Exhibitions & Collections Giving Circle. In addition, Arts Center programs are made possible by the generous support of its members.