• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Phone 414.263.5001
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
readings & workshops
April 6 - Jun 27

Book Club: Readshops led by Karl Gartung

October 5 - Nov 24

Chain of Events: Tyanna Buie

readings & workshops
October 19

Language as a Playground

readings & workshops
October 20

Reading: Peter Markus

readings & workshops
October 22 - Dec 31

Welcome Home!: A Veterans Writing Group

readings & workshops
October 23

Reading and Book Launch: Kathie Giorgio

readings & workshops
October 24

Urban Echo Poets

readings & workshops
October 27


readings & workshops
October 30

Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice

readings & workshops
November 1

Reading and Screening: Trisha Low, Stephanie Young, and Zachary Epcar

film & video
November 3

It’s an Interlace: Five Videos by Barbara Hammer

readings & workshops
November 10 - Dec 8

Shifty Subjects and Unexpected Endings

November 10

Alternating Currents Live presents: The Transatlantic Bridge #2.2

special events
November 16

39th Anniversary Gala

November 17

Alternating Currents Live presents: Ernest Dawkins’ Boglifier Project

readings & workshops
November 21

Poetry Reading: Kimberly Blaeser & William Stobb

November 28


Archived exhibitions
May 27 May 27 - August 28


Between a Portrait and its Other

For Paul Vanderbilt

{guest curated by Debra Brehmer}


Opening reception: Friday, May 27 | 5-7 PM

Exhibition: May 27 to August 28, 2016

FREE and open to the public.

This summer, Woodland Pattern Book Center will explore the notion of personal collections and archives. Three prominent individuals—Joseph Pabst (activist philanthropist), Bryce Clark (owner of Cempazuchi restaurant) and Andy Kraushaar (Visual Materials Curator at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison)—present their unique photographic collections in Between a Portrait and its Other, an exhibition that explores the poetic imprint of vernacular archives via the legacy of Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992).


Paul Vanderbilt continues to influence the way we think about history through its artifacts. He worked from 1942 to 1945 with Roy Stryker at the Library of Congress, classifying over 200,000 photographs of tenant farmers and farm workers commissioned by the Farm Security Administration. When he moved to Madison in 1954 he worked as an archivist, curator, and field photographer for the Wisconsin Historical Society until retiring in 1972. Vanderbilt became known for the way he organized diverse photographic images into vaguely narrative panels that included one of his own landscape photographs. He also added a few lines of poetic, suggestive text to these panels. Rather than simply indexing and organizing historic materials, Vanderbilt plunged into the associative, sometimes dreamlike meanings that might emerge when images fall into unpredictable proximity.


After Vanderbilt died in 1992, his major book, Between the Landscape and its Other, was published in 1993. This exhibition, Between a Portrait and its Other, is a tribute to his passion for all things categorical as well as his artistic defiance of rigid systematic indexing.


The three collections being presented at Woodland Pattern have never been shown publicly.






Guest curator Debra Brehmer, owner of Portrait Society Gallery and an art writer who regularly contributes to the national publication Hyperallergic, was exposed to Paul Vanderbilt’s legacy during a recent exhibition of his work at the Wriston Art Center at Lawrence University in Appleton. The Archive as River: Paul Vanderbilt and Photography was a show that originated in 2014 at the James Watrous Gallery in Madison.


Joseph Pabst, a Milwaukee LGBT activist and philanthropist, collects turn-of-the century cabinet card portraits of men. Over 1000 historic photographic images attest to Pabst’s interest in documentation and the visual iconography of masculinity or what it means to ‘define’ as male. The cabinet card, introduced in the late 1860s, flourished until the early 1900s when the Real Photo Postcard replaced it in popularity. These photographs are mostly albumen prints, where the paper is coated with egg white and salt then dipped in silver nitrate and water for its photosensitivity. This was the most common printing process at the time. 


Bryce Clark, owner of Cempazuchi Restaurant on Brady Street since 1999, frequently travels to Latin American, bringing back new gastronomical influences for the restaurant. He developed an interest in Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico and began collecting retablos and ex-votos. His interest in collecting, however, stemmed from childhood when his grandfather would take him to auctions and flea markets. He found his first post-mortem photograph in a box of photos at the Princeton, WI flea market in the 1970s. When he later discovered the book Wisconsin Death Trip, written by PhD student Michael Lesy in 1973, Clark had found a context for this category of photography. (Lesy’s book was influenced by Paul Vanderbilt). Although Post-mortem photography might sound macabre was a common practice before cameras became widely accessible. Often, the post-mortem photograph may have been the only image ever taken of the subject.


Andy Kraushaar now holds the job that Paul Vanderbilt once occupied at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison. Besides tending this vast collection of visual material, Kraushaar maintains his own collections on the side. For many years, he has privately sought out the snapshot — the photographic dialect of everyday life, be it cyanotype, silver gelatin, Polaroid or photo-booth generated. Like Vanderbilt, he has developed innovative organization categories for his collection.


In addition, composer and filmmaker Ted Brusubardis was commissioned to augment the exhibition with a sound collage featuring excerpts from audio recordings of Paul Vanderbilt’s lectures as well as readings of some of his poetic fragments. Brusubardis' intention, by using repetition and some seemingly fragmented thoughts, was to underscore Vanderbilt's experimental, poetic, associative practice. 


Exhibition curator Debra Brehmer also initiated a project dealing with collecting and creating an archive called Pounds of Flesh. Hundreds of images of hands (friends and acquaintances) were collected over several years. The name of each person is on the back of the prints, with a list of participants on the wall. 


Pounds of Flesh is being presented as a fundraiser for Woodland Pattern. Any hand print can be purchased for $20, or you can commission a hand print. 


All proceeds will be donated to the bookstore. 


Made possible with generous support from