Exploring Visual Arts across Madison
Apr 1, 2014
Not-So-Taxing Works at Hatch Art House
The deadline to file your individual tax returns is fourteen days away. If this sentence fills you with dread, you’ll appreciate how Steve Wirtz takes the serious papers associated with this annual task and turns them into something delightful.
The Wisconsin artist uses those documents to create trophy-like papier mâché sculptures, five of which are on display this month in a show called TAXidermy at Hatch Art House.
Hanging on the walls of the Willy Street gallery are the heads of a large red bear, a huge brown bull and three smaller jackelopes in white, blue and red. When examining them close up, you can see that old tax forms really do provide the basis of these works, which are also colored and coated with a glossy finish.
While the animal heads take the form of taxidermy trophies, they have a bold, playful presence. It’s clear Wirtz isn’t afraid to have fun with either taxes or hunting traditions.
He states, “Finishing my taxes for the year is like landing a big fish, or bagging a big game trophy. It’s an accomplishment.”
Wirtz also displays two deer trophies and three walleye made out of fencing wire. Adhered to the walls or hanging from the ceiling, respectively, these sculptures are like line drawings brought into three dimensions.
And Hatch has long showcased smaller papier mâché dogs by Wirtz. An ornery-looking French bulldog coated in navy, cornflower and white bears the message “Why so Blue?” while a smiling yellow lab is cleverly formed out of—what else?—yellow pages of a phone book.
TAXidermy runs through April 30 at Hatch Art House. For more information, visit hatcharthouse.com.