In January 2016, I received a note from landscape architect Nancy Aten, who was scanning works by Milwaukee artist Gertrude Kundman Erskine to be included in Erskine’s archive, when she came upon 8x10 photographs of a series of six works that especially caught her attention.
"They look like paintings on canvas," she said. "They look like they might be murals for a school."
I then posted this article on Jan. 11, 2016 asking readers if they could identify the location of the works. Just yesterday, Sept. 21, Aten wrote to let me know the works had been identified. Therefore, I've adapted this post to reflect the new scholarship, so read on to find out where they were located...
In 1955, the Milwaukee Sentinel called Erskine – whose nickname was Tula – a, "versatile, purposeful, slender, red-haired Milwaukee artist who is intensely meticulous and thorough in everything she does whether it be housekeeping (!), painting, sculptoring, doing research into art techniques and media or into botany, sewing her own clothes, carrying out her duties as board member for the Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors Society and as publicity chairman for the Audubon Society of Wisconsin."
Erskine, a Washington High School grad, had regularly shown her work at the Milwaukee Art Institute, art competitions at the Wisconsin Salon and State Fair and at art museums as far-flung as Syracuse, N.Y.
There were no notes attached that would identify the works Aten found – which are owned by the Urban Ecology Center – nor where they might have been painted, nor their dimensions.
"They were tucked in an old portfolio, and have glue marks on the back like they were once pasted in," she said. "The portfolio is really loosely arranged, so it's hard to attribute chronology, but they were with other items that I would guess makes them circa 1930s or early ‘40s."
Aten believed the style of the works also fits with that time frame based on what she knows about the timeline of Erskine’s caree…Read more...