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Sketching Mathilde

Mathilde Franziska Anneke

Feminist Activist, Writer, News Publisher, Educator

My second selection for the MATC "Portrait of Milwaukee Progress" project is an interesting gal who moved to Milwaukee in the mid 19th century, and started the first feminist journal in the US. Above is a preliminary sketch for Mathilde's portrait and following are some high points I learned about her remarkable life.

Mathilde Franziska Anneke (1817–1884) German-born, Mathilde married Fritz Anneke in 1847 and settled in Cologne, Germany. Together they founded a newspaper for the working class promoting socialist ideals. Fritz's political activism resulted in a prison sentence, during which time Mathilde single-handedly edited, managed and printed the paper. Eventually, the paper got shut down by authorities, and the Annekes emigrated to Milwaukee. In 1852, Mathilde went on to start the first feminist journal published by a woman in America, the Deutsche Frauen-Zeitung, and began a close collaboration with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. An eloquent speaker, she lobbied in Washington for women’s rights, and was a vocal opponent of slavery in America. In 1869 Mathilde Anneke became vice president of the National Woman's Suffrage Association, and later she founded a school for girls in Milwaukee, which she ran until her death on November 25, 1884. 

If you'd like to read more about Mathilde, following are some links:

The Family Farm small

MATC community arts commission

Well, this is cool news! A couple weeks ago I was informed that I was selected (along with 13 other local artists) to create a piece for the community arts project at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). This week - I also found out that they would like to buy one of my recent works for the same installation! So TWO pieces will be installed at MATC this summer. Yahoo!

The piece they are purchasing (shown above) is a recent work, a compilation of portraits of multiple generations of my mother's family in Medford, Wisconsin, called "The Family Farm."

They have also commissioned me to create a new piece, which is in production now. My concept is a series of portraits of historic Milwaukeeans of note - people who have made significant contributions to the social fabric of our city. I am still working on the final selection but contenders include Josette Vieau Juneau, Lloyd Barbee, Father James Groppi, Golda Meir, Vel Phillips, Charles Whitnall, Mayor Frank Zeidler and others.

I will be working on that piece, working title "Portrait of Milwaukee" over the next few months and the unveiling is currently scheduled for August 2021.

Yay! Thank you to MATC!!

More posts on this topic


"Remember the day..." Installed in Shorewood

The Shorewood murals have been installed - yay!

A few months ago I was chosen along with 10 other local artists be part of a beautification project for the Village of Shorewood in Wisconsin. The concept, called "Signaling History" was organized by the Public Art Shorewood committee, and focused on decorating the metal utility boxes located at each intersection with a traffic light. The commission required that each work should incorporate the history of Shorewood, but otherwise the artists were free to create whatever they wanted. We were all provided access to the local historical society and archives to research Shorewood history.

Since my work of recent years has been inspired by antique family snapshots, the idea of incorporating photos of previous Shorewood generations dovetailed nicely into my area of interest. The corner I was working on is the site of two Shorewood elementary schools - Atwater Elementary Public School and St Robert's Parish and Grade School. My brother and I attended St Roberts, so I was very excited for my work to be installed on this corner.

At the historical society, I found a number of inspirational images. I took photos of at least 100 images, and when I got home I compiled several of those to arrive at the final composition. What made the cut were two class photos of Atwater school children from the 1950s plus an adorable photo of a young boy with his teacher that became the focal point of the piece.

The drawings are not meant to be portraits of specific people. My intent in using old photos as inspiration is to capture a particular time and/or place and to elicit a feeling or mood. I often will make changes to further this affectation. For this piece, I put some of the children in school uniforms and I also added some children of color to the design. These details are not true to the historical photos I was working from, but I wanted to be inclusive of the children of both schools and to also reflect the multicultural nature of Shorewood's current population. To place the composition on this specific corner of Shorewood, I added sketches of both of the schools into the background.

The signal box I was assigned had two flat adjacent sides so I decided to create a continuous composition that wrapped around the corner. In order to draw the eye from one side to the next, I added a device of colorful balloons blowing in the wind. I did the entire project in a digital format, from my iPad. This is a new technique I've been developing which worked perfectly for this project since the final murals were to be digitally printed onto  substrate and then adhered to the utility boxes for installation.

The final work is meant to elicit the celebratory and nostalgic feelings of being a young student on the last day of school. The work is entitled "Remember the day...". Below are a few site photos.

A big thank you to Diane Buck who told me about this project, to the Village of Shorewood, Public Art Shorewood and the Shorewood Historical society. And an extra special thanks to Confluence Graphics in Shorewood - the printers and installers of the murals. The color turned out just as I'd envisioned it, and the join at the corner is barely perceptible. Awesome job!

For those who live in the area and would like to view this piece in person, it is located on the southwest corner of Maryland Avenue and Capitol Drive, in Shorewood, Wisconsin. And don't forget to drive through the village and check out the other artists' work as well. Each intersection with traffic lights now has a mural installed on the utility box! 😀


Milwaukee Bucks permanent art collection at the Fiserv Forum

Wow - what a day!

On Friday, August 24, 2018, the Milwaukee Bucks permanent art collection at the Fiserv Forum was unveiled. I was lucky enough to be one of the 32 artists chosen from nearly 1300 applicants to have my work included in the collection. The day started with a televised press conference where I had the chance to meet many of the other artists, after which our friends and families were invited to come and tour the arena.  Over the weekend, the public is invited to tour the space and they're expecting up to 40,000 people.

The Fiserv Forum, an elegant new feature in the Milwaukee skyline, seats more than 17,000. My work is hanging on the suite level, outside of Suite 04. There is also a book commemorating the art and the artists, which I've shared in the video below.

The work I created, called "The Girls  Team," measures 26" x 36" before framing, and the medium is watercolor on Ampersand Aquabord. This piece is part of the Discarded series of works that I've been developing over the last few years which takes inspiration from antique photography to tell a story. For "The Girls Team", I found inspiration in images of women's basketball teams from the last century. The background of the piece is a grouping of girl players from earlier eras, dressed in their uniforms, lined up for team photos. They overlook the subject, a young woman of today playing ball against boys, and giving them a real run for their money. I wanted to illustrate that the women who played before, paved the way for today's young women to not just play without the judgment, but to achieve levels in the field totally out of reach by earlier generations.

This is truly the honor of a lifetime. I am so thankful to be included - thank you to the Milwaukee Bucks and especially to the wonderful women at Sports and the Arts who put this whole thing together!

The video below is of me narrating as I page through the Milwaukee Bucks Art Collection's commemorative book.

Below are some images of the day, including a closer look at "The Girls Team".





Two Series live at Tease

I am very excited to announce a new one-woman show now live at Tease Salon (2222 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207). The team at Tease did a fantastic job posting the show - the quirky antiques and cool vibe at Tease really make my stuff look great!

For this show, I am presenting pieces from two very different series: 1) the Discarded series, representative watercolor works inspired by antique photography and 2) Strata+Sphere, multimedia abstract works inspired by my childhood in Milwaukee.

For those in the area, Tease takes part in Bay View Gallery Night and I will be there for the grand opening of this show the evening of June 3, 2016. Come one, come all!

Discarded Series

Strata + Sphere Series



Just won an award from Watercolor Artist Magazine

Super excited to share this news - I just found out that not only did I win an award in a national watercolor competition, I will also be published in the April 2015 issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine! Yippee!

Here is an excerpt from the email just received a few minutes ago:

Congratulations! It's my pleasure to inform you that you've won Honorable Mention in this year's Watermedia Showcase competition. As such, your painting, "Faded Chalkboard Memories," will be published in the April 2015 issue of Watercolor Artist.

"Faded Chalkboard Memories" is from my Discarded series - images inspired by vintage snapshots and photography that I find in antique stores.

I am over-the-moon!


One of my pieces was stolen

Ok - I was showing my work - 7 pieces - at a place that for privacy reasons I will not name. The show was over and I had planned to pick up the work on a agreed-upon day. The day before that however, I find out that one of my paintings had been stolen from the show.  !!!

The work that was stolen is pictured above. It's called All In, and it's part of my Discarded series. All the works in that series are based on old photographs that I've found in junk shops and antique stores.

Of course I was upset and freaked out - but also a little excited. Have I reached a new level in my art career? Work so good it's worth stealing? Well - I don't know about all that, but I couldn't help but feel a little complimented by the act of larceny. Is that weird?

The story ends well, I am happy to report. I got the painting back through the heroic acts of one lovely man who deduced who had stolen the painting and demanded it back on threat of pressing police charges.

My friend, I am forever in your debt. 😀

And for anyone interested in buying a piece with a past - please give me a call!



Three purchased from Discarded series

I had the delightful opportunity to meet in person a new collector of my work, D'Lynne Schade. I was extremely flattered to hear from her after she'd purchased "Sordid" from the Leigh Gallery - she'd contacted me to find out where she could see more of my work. I let her know I am showing at the Andersonville Galleria and she went and picked up two more paintings - "Reconsider" and "Last Regrets".

These three encaustic works are part of my "Discarded" series, inspired by vintage photography.

D'Lynne invited me to see the works hanging in her home and I am thrilled to report that my work hangs among many other impressive pieces. D'Lynne has a keen eye for compelling and important work and visiting her home is like a trip to a great gallery.

Thank you so much D'Lynne! They look fantastic in your home!


Encaustics and the discarded series

"Sordid" - encaustic on 10" x 10" cradled board, $250.00

As another branch of my "Discarded" series, I have been incorporating antique photography into encaustic works.

I have a fascination with antique photography. It's sad and intriguing to find old family snaps and formal shots for sale at junk shops and antique stores. I can spend ages sifting through these crumbling old pages from someone else's life.  I like the idea of giving them a new life by putting them into art pieces. I find these images so inspiring - precisely because I don't actually know the people in them. It affords each image the potential of infinite stories.

My newest iteration of this series is incorporating these images into encaustic works. Encaustic is painting with melted wax, and you can do image transfers, collage and carving into the wax to build your image. I used the image transfer method to create this series.

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