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Derk Hansen: A Life in the Landscape

Sep. 19, 2012
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Born in a German basement during an air raid in 1942, artist Derk Hansen later immigrated to America. His art has evolved from his diverse life experiences: window stylist, art restorer, art gallery owner, photographer, cameraman, film editor, chuck wagon chef and oil painter. And these descriptions only hint at the versatility of Hansen, who makes a trip this weekend to Milwaukee’s Landmarks Gallery.

The exhibition “Derk Hansen: Minnesota Landscape Artist” displays years of creative experience gleaned from Hansen’s unique opportunities. After painting on black velvet in the 1970s, he shifted to scenes of the American West, which he researched while working on a cattle ranch every spring and fall during his mid-adult years.

These wildlife paintings, along with miniature still-life images, occupy a prominent space in Hansen’s small studio adjacent to his home in Woodbury, Minn. His delicate artworks hang only a few steps from his barn, the residence of his horse, Sassy. Hansen’s Milwaukee show will feature some 15 small paintings of Red Wing, Minn., La Crosse, Wis., the Mississippi River Valley and Balsam Lake country.

Hansen’s detailed, luminous oils reveal inspiration from Thomas Moran, one of the premier painters of the American landscape in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At his cabin, Hansen works when it’s quiet and serene—and his oils evoke the contentment he experiences when painting his home territory. As Hansen explains, “I try to reflect that we can’t control nature, only adjust to it.”

Landmarks Gallery hosts Hansen’s exhibition and reception noon-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21-22. Hansen will create a miniature painting on site.

Art Happenings


Gallery Grand @ GAC

604 N. Water St.

Works by 25 local artists, including J. Karl Bogartte, Philo Kassner and Harvey Taylor, are on display at Gallery Grand. A 4:30-7:30 p.m. reception takes place Thursday, Sept. 20, with a gallery talk at 6 p.m.

“The Carol Show”

Dominion Gallery

804 E. Wright St.

This underground art gallery presents art by Carol Curley and photography by Milwaukee’s beloved Francis Ford. An opening reception featuring Dead Man’s Carnival begins 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21.


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