Fred Stonehouse – Marschmeister, now through February 4th. Don’t miss Fred’s first solo show in Milwaukee since 2003!
Here is Fred Stonehouse’s Marschmeister essay: ” My home is situated just beneath the foot of the Horicon Marsh; a vast wetlands in south central Wisconsin. This marsh, often referred to as the “Everglades of the North,” is an important rest stop for migrating ducks, geese, warblers and other birds. It is also home to great blue herons, egrets, redhead ducks and more than 200 other species. Deer, coyotes, raccoons and other mammals can easily be seen darting across the roads and down into the swampy cover of cattail marshes or oak bogs. Great Blue Herons glide by overhead, low, but just barely out of reach they cast their prehistoric shadows through the windshield of my passing car. I am not a naturalist, and have little knowledge of the marsh fauna beyond what I see in passing, but as I drive the roads skirting the marsh, I find my imagination running to fill the gaps between what is seen and what is unseen; between what is apparent and what is unknown to me of life in the marsh.
In this new body of work I have re-imagined the marsh as the center of a world in which primal dramas are played out. The marsh is a mysterious and murky zone where the intricacies of the human mind and personal psychologies are made manifest in a range of characters drawn, in part, from extant folklore and myth, but primarily from the waking dream of the marsh itself. The marsh is a place where the boundaries between water, earth and sky are blurred and merge into an atmospheric mélange that serves as an apt metaphor for the creative process.
In the marsh of my imagination the rules of logic and natural science are reborn as whimsy and invention. Here the mingling of bloodlines has resulted in new species that cross impenetrable boundaries. Separations between life and art have never been very clear, and while that fact has been used to foster no end of romantic clichés, it is a reality that artists recognize and embrace.
With this current series, entitled “Marschmeister”, it is my intention to communicate a dreamlike space where truth mingles with the psychological imperatives of the imagination and facts are twisted to suit the formal requirements of fiction. The title is an invention drawn partly from the term and popular liquor “Jaegermeister” which is one title for gamekeepers in Germany. “Marschmeister” is my term for the imaginary guardians or keepers of the marsh. The painting in the show titled “Marsh Buck” was one of the first pieces completed for this new body of work and it was derived directly from the “Jaegermeister” label. The label image, of a stag with a cross amidst its antlers, is a reference to the legend of St. Eustace, patron saint of hunters and woodsmen.
Some of the characters in this new series of paintings and drawings are clearly imaginary mythic hybrids or monsters. Others are almost believably described, straying only slightly from nature. My practice of mixing the fabulous with the mundane is one that satisfies the idiosyncratic demands of describing this alternate world.
Determining whether the “Marschmeister” is human, animal, or hybrid is ultimately unimportant. The masters of this world are conjured from a vision where all are equally liable, culpable, and responsible for its fate. ” ~Fred Stonehouse
Marschmeister catalog is available! Please contact Tory Folliard Gallery for details.