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The Art of JoAnna Poehlmann

Viewing the distinguished art of esteemed Milwaukee native JoAnna Poehlmann is a delight to the senses with her new, multi-faceted exhibit entitled Fin/Feather/Fungi/Frog/etc. The exhibit is on display in our Art Gallery, located on the second floor of Schlitz Audubon’s Visitor Center, through February 29. This collection of Joanna’s colorful and brilliantly conceived work is a treat for all art lovers.   

JoAnna creates artwork in a wide array of styles, with most focusing on varied aspects of nature. She makes graphite drawings, etchings, lithographs, watercolor, mixed media sculptures, and artist books. Most of the work is centered on the beauty and humor she observes in the natural world, drawing heavily from the history of art and literature.  

Photo: Robb Quinn

The Art in Joanna’s Exhibit  

When visitors view Fin/Feather/Fungi/Frog/etc., they will immediately be struck by its breadth, diversity, and playfulness. Walking into the Art Gallery, viewers are greeted by an assemblage of over 100 pieces, which looks like a cabinet of wonders. The first pieces encountered are taxidermy animals, birds, and insects from JoAnna’s collection. These specimens, with their respectful, beautiful style of display, reveal JoAnna’s love of nature. Their titles contain thematic elements and plays on words, which appear throughout JoAnna’s art.  

Onward into the gallery, highly detailed drawings, etchings, and paintings evoke a sense of delight with their colorful and original compositions. There are pieces that pay homage to Old Masters, such as Albrecht Dürer, as well as contemporary artists like Frida Kahlo. These art masters are portrayed with images of nature-themed objects, adding a touch of color that complements the overall work. Much of this art is enhanced by the whimsical addition of literary notes.  

Viewers will see detailed feathers, both drawn and real, sometimes within the same piece. Glorious sketches and drawings of fish and frogs abound, and images of fungi sit alongside preserved examples of real mushrooms, displayed in creative splendor. A wonderful addition to these pieces is their scientific notes, like a naturalist’s journal honoring the natural world. The details that appear in these works are awe-inspiring.  

JoAnna Poehlmann says of the exhibit, “The focus of ‘Fin/Feather/Fungi/Frog/etc.’ mirrors some of the endless variety and subject matter in Nature that I try to reflect and express for others to experience. Schlitz Audubon seemed the perfect place to share my vision and I am very grateful for this opportunity.” 

History of Joanna Poehlmann’s Art     

JoAnna has been creating nature-inspired art for over 60 years. As a child she was inspired by explorations of the fields and forests near Three Lakes in northern Wisconsin, where her family had a summer cottage. Joanna was discovered to be an artist by her first-grade teacher, so her parents kindly enrolled her at the Milwaukee Art Institute to study. She continued her formal education at the Layton School of Art, Marquette University, and the University of Wisconsin, all in Milwaukee. Her work is displayed nationally and internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Milwaukee Art Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among others.  

Most of the pieces in the exhibit are available for sale and a portion of all purchases will be donated to Schlitz Audubon. Her book, Now and Then, is available for purchase in our Nature Store.