Super Natural

March 13, 2016 — September 11, 2016

Shane McAdams

Rorschach Symmetry (Repoussoir)

2016 ink, oil, resin on panel
Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Larry Sanders.

Cecelia Condit

Pulling up the Roots

2015 film still
Courtesy of the artist

Sheila Held

On the Ferry

2015 fiber; 61 x 38 in.
Courtesy of the artist. Photo: David Altman.

Jason Vaughn

Columbus, WI

2013 archival pigment print; 32 x 40 in.
Courtesy of the artist

John Wilde

Wilde World II (The Way Things Seem to Be)

1963–64 oil on wood panel; 21 1/2 x 33 in.
Courtesy of Racine Art Museum, gift of Karen Johnson Boyd. Photo: Jon Bolton, courtesy of Racine Art Museum.

Romano Johnson

Mother Blue Cloud Water Angel

2015 acrylic and glitter on canvas; 48 x 60 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Portrait Society Gallery, WI. Photo: Lance Owens.

Jennifer Angus

Secret Lives (detail)

2016 insects, ink on paper, glass, wood, and mixed media
Courtesy of the artist

(Left to right) T.L. Solien, Boy's Life, 2007; oil on canvas; 78 x 96 in. Jockey, 2012; ceramic and mixed media; height 24 in. Courtesy of the artist and Tory Folliard Gallery, WI. Installation view of Super Natural at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2016.

JoAnna Poehlmann, Memento Mori (Installation of Taxidermal Specimens) (detail, installation view, John Michael Kohler Arts Center), n.d. Courtesy of the artist.


Magic realism developed as an art movement in the years after World War I when many American artists began to explore the interconnections between the material and the imagined. Evidenced in literature, painting, and film, magic realism encompasses a range of subtly different concepts, yet all share an acceptance of the supernatural in an otherwise rational world. In the visual arts, the genre is often typified by remarkable detail and sharp focus, but the conventions of realism are slightly adjusted such that the everyday becomes more psychologically charged, and the familiar transforms into something unsettling and strange.

Many historians cite John Wilde (1919–2006)—painter, draftsman, and printmaker of fantastic imagery—as one of the pioneers of magic realism in Wisconsin. A Wisconsinite to the core, Wilde referenced his home state in his work in indirect ways, opting to focus on the mood of the Midwestern landscape rather than specific geographic coordinates. Several of his paintings are included in the exhibition. This exhibition, which features sole Wisconsin artists, takes the legacy of Wilde as its starting point and explores the ideals of magic realism through a wide variety of techniques and media including print, painting, video, sculpture, and fiber-based works.

Additional artists in the exhibition are: Jennifer Angus (Madison), Peter Barrickman (Milwaukee), Cecelia Condit (Milwaukee), Gary John Gresl (Brown Deer), Sheila Held (Wauwatosa), Maeve Jackson (Milwaukee), Romano Johnson (Madison), Tom Jones (Madison), Truman Lowe (Madison), Shane McAdams (Cedarburg), Dennis Nechvatal (Madison), Will Pergl (Milwaukee), Joanna Poehlmann (Milwaukee), Karl Priebe (1914–1976), Rafael Francisco Salas (Ripon), T.L. Solien (Madison), Simon Sparrow (1925–2000), Fred Stonehouse (Milwaukee), Lynn Tomaszewski (Milwaukee), Tom Uttech (Madison), Jason Vaughn (LaCrosse), Michael Veliquette (Madison), and Jason S. Yi (Milwaukee).

Our gratitude is extended to The Frank G. and Frieda K. Brotz Family 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.