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Press Release                                          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Racine, WI     September 11, 2009
The Racine Art Museum Presents
Career Survey of Ceramic Sculptor
Michael Lucero

Michael LuceroThe Racine Art Museum presents a career survey of the works of internationally recognized ceramic sculptor Michael Lucero. Collection Focus - Michael Lucero at RAM, open September 20, 2009 through January 17, 2010, is the third in an ongoing series of exhibitions that feature promised gifts and works already in RAM's permanent collection. This exhibition contains a total of 15 works by Lucero, of which eight are recognized as examples of his major sculptures.

Michael Lucero at RAM debuts 12 newly acquired Lucero pieces that have been donated within the past 18 months by six different collecting families from across the US. These new acquisitions would usually be presented in one of RAM's annual exhibitions of recent gifts. In this case, the arrival of so many works by one artist at the same time allowed the museum to curate a focused exhibition featuring his work. By combining these new gifts with works already in RAM's collection, the exhibition highlights Lucero's career development and aesthetic explorations in ceramics between 1983 and 2007.

Lucero usually works in series. He creates pieces using a specific form or method of working over a period of time before evolving into another way of depicting imagery. RAM's current representation of this artist's career includes a number of works from different series and the museum will continue to build on its documentation of Lucero's work.

Two early works from his Dreamers Series are examples of Lucero's thought process. These two sculptures are each a large-scale representational human head, resting on its side. The surfaces of these head forms are decorated with glaze paintings of the landscape-both real and imaginary, depicted in a dream-like way. Landscape imagery has been a major theme in Lucero's work for much of his career. The unpopulated arid landscape of the American southwest, the dense deserted forests of the Pacific Northwest and the varieties of flora and fauna that reside in North and Central America frequently appear in his work. Although Lucero is often categorized as a leading sculptor, his works are equally prized for the painterly quality of his glazed surfaces, which are often fully covered with elaborate paintings.

Lucero often combines images and forms from ancient and contemporary art and culture. Some of his figures recall the ceramics of ancient Aztec and Mayan art. At the same time, his imagery often references the work of 20th century artists including Constantin Brancusi, Sonia Delaunay and Marcel Duchamp. His blending of ancient and modern references illustrates the huge number of images and information available at our fingertips today. Lucero strategically places a bar code image on many of his sculptures. This reminds us of the intrusion of contemporary life on every experience. It also calls attention to the globalization and commodification of art and culture rapidly taking place today around the world because of access to communication, media, and international trade and travel.

In his Reclamation Series of the 1990s, Lucero combined fragmented portions of weathered figurative sculptures he found in antique stores and second hand shops into composite artworks. He incorporated found objects, ranging from stone garden statuary, carved and painted wooden sculptures, to painted cast concrete lawn ornaments and cast plaster reproductions. Once highly prized by their owners, these works are now often discarded as kitsch representations of bad taste. Lucero takes these cast-offs, many of whom are missing limbs or heads, and gives them a new life by replacing the missing portions with his own sculpted appendages. These works establish a witty dialogue between the salvaged everyday objects that form part of the sculpture and Lucero's handmade additions that elevate these discards to the realm of high art.

Born in Tracy, California in 1953, Michael Lucero received his BA degree from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. He completed his MFA at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he studied with Howard Kottler. Lucero received national recognition early in his career, while still in graduate school, for a series of large hanging figures made up of ceramic shards that were wired to pipe armatures. Lucero is a three-time recipient of National Endowment for the Arts grants. His work is included in numerous major private collections as well as important public collections such as the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The artist lives and works in New York State.

A collection study guide will be available, free to RAM members and with paid RAM admission. This guide will feature an essay on the significance of Lucero's work along with color images of some the pieces within RAM's permanent collection. The 20-page guide is also available for $5 plus shipping by calling the RAM Museum Store at 262.638.8200.

The presentation of this exhibition at the Racine Art Museum is made possible by:  Presenting Sponsors - Karen Johnson Boyd and William B. Boyd, RAM Society Members, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., The Hearst Foundation, Inc. and Windgate Charitable Foundation; Gold Sponsors - Racine United Arts Fund and Wisconsin Arts Board

Together, the two campuses of the Racine Art Museum, RAM in downtown Racine at 441 Main Street and the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts at 2519 Northwestern Avenue, seek to elevate the stature of contemporary crafts to that of fine art by exhibiting significant works in craft media with painting, sculpture and photography, while providing outstanding educational art programming.

Docent led contemporary craft and architectural tours of the museums are available. Both campuses of the Racine Art Museum, are open to the public Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm, and are closed Mondays, Federal holidays and Easter. RAM is open Sunday Noon - 5:00 pm, while Wustum is closed Sundays. An admission fee of $5 for adults, with reduced fees for students and seniors, applies at RAM. Admission to Wustum is free. Members are always admitted without charge to either campus.

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For more information or to request images, please contact:

Laura Gillespie
RAM Marketing Assistant
262.638.8300 x 114

Above: Michael Lucero, Anthropomorphic Male Teapot (New World Series), 1992, Glazed white earthenware, 18.5 x 12 x 8 inches, Racine Art Museum, The Donna Moog Collection, Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine, WI