Center News

The Artwork of James Steeno and May Klisch

The work of two Milwaukee-based artists who create nature and Center-inspired art will be shown in our Mezzanine Gallery from May 23 through July 26. May Klisch and James Steeno come together to display works that reveal their passions for color, natural landscapes, wildlife, and birds.

The Hidden World Found in Everyday Places

James Steeno loves the flora and fauna of Wisconsin. He takes much of his inspiration from common, everyday scenes and places in which he can find a new world hidden in plain sight. For James, creating art is a meditation. It’s like having a conversation in which lines and colors replace words to become a watercolor painting. Nature is a key element in his work. The Center inspires many of his nature pieces, which include birds, trees, and dragonflies. “My watercolors and sketches arise from a constant desire to be with nature,” James said.

He is an independent artist/illustrator and creative entrepreneur who participates in a variety of art shows, fairs and painting competitions around the state. James appreciates the humbling nature of painting in watercolor, as water tends to flow and create unexpected outcomes. “Those same unpredicted results are also the charm and magic of watercolor painting,” James said.

James respects the Center’s mission, especially the connection to John James Audubon. “I am jealous of the time when one could be an ornithologist, naturalist, explorer, and painter,” James said. He loves to imagine the adventure of exploring the American landscape of the 1800s.

Whimsical Watercolors

May Klisch is inspired by the beauties of nature. She is interested in the relationships, emotions, and spirit behind the places and things she depicts. Her work is whimsical, as well as ethereal and earthy. May paints in watercolors and oils, and likes to represent scenes of birds, animals, and landscapes. She also paints still life, portraiture, and figures. “My work is largely representational, with watercolors emulating Master Charles Reid’s loose style and oils tending towards realism,” May said. In 2018, May’s work was displayed at the Red Line Studio for “Contemporary Landscapes.” She has also been in all three Swan Day MKE shows.

“I began my watercolor—and art—journey by drawing a bird.  Birds of prey, especially owls, are a favorite subject, as are untamed landscapes,” May said. Another subject she likes to paint deals with ironies. Her concern with the future of the natural world is sometimes evident in her work. She describes one of her recent compositions as, “an irony for the viewer to unravel about the destiny of wildlife and our hand in stemming its depletion as a reaction of our future,” May said.

Both artists have painted wildlife scenes of the Center, as well as our raptors. Some of their work is available in our Nature Store. Their gallery artwork will also be available for purchase. The artists will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Center.

This exhibit will take place May 23 through July 26. The gallery is open during the Center’s regular business hours and is located on the second-floor mezzanine, which is wheelchair accessible via the elevator.