Cedarburg Art Museum features Prints and Sculptures by Paul Yank



Samantha Michalski, Curator

Cedarburg Art Museum

W63N675 Washington Ave.

Cedarburg, WI 53012



Paul Yank, Totem Eagle, monotype, 30 x 22”. Courtesy of the Cedarburg Art Museum.

Cedarburg, Wisconsin – A new exhibition called “Paul Yank: His Genius, Sculpture and Prints” will feature a selection of Paul Yank’s prolific oeuvre, representing his high level of expertise in both sculpture and printmaking from May 18 to September 24, 2023 at the Cedarburg Art Museum.

Renowned Cedarburg artist Paul J. Yank (1931 – 2020) left an incredible legacy as a beloved mentor, talented printmaker, and master sculptor. His ability to think and create three-dimensionally was where his true genius lived. Yank’s early career was dominated by large-scale sculptural creations while in his late career, the artist focused on printmaking and used it as a vehicle to continue realizing his three-dimensional inspirations. His unique approach to printmaking, drawing, and painting was always sculptural in nature. In this exhibition, a selection of Yank’s prolific oeuvre will be featured, representing his high level of expertise in both sculpture and printmaking. 

Yank was encouraged throughout his early life to pursue a career in the arts. During his formative years in catholic school, he created artworks that drew the attention of the nuns, so much so that they began to ask him to draw for projects that increased in complexity and importance as he got older. This encouragement was what he needed to put a more conventional career path to the side. He received a BFA from the progressive Layton School of Art (later known as the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design or MIAD) in 1958. With this artistic groundwork, he would later study sculpture at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and when he entered the U.S. Marine Corps, he studied bridge engineering while also studying art at the Kyoto University in Japan for three and a half years. His years as a student stirred his imagination and instilled a deep interest in other cultures, giving him a foundation to explore multiple art mediums.

Upon receiving his degree in 1958, Yank was selected in a national competition for an artist-in-residence at Milwaukee’s natural history museum, known today as the Milwaukee Public Museum. During his seven years there, he studied cultural anthropology while designing and building figural sculptures for the Native American, African, and Old Milwaukee departments. By the mid-1960s, Yank had transitioned his avocation to his full-time career and began making large scale sculptures, fountains, and wall reliefs to fulfill commissions for corporate, public, and private venues.

Yank moved his family to Cedarburg in 1966, purchasing the former Weber Brewery building complex for use as a larger studio space. It was there he created the most significant pieces of his career and helped create a community that encouraged artistic expression and growth. Over the years, Yank enhanced Cedarburg’s reputation as an artist colony when he transformed the 1840s stone building into a welding and printmaking studio, gallery space for local artists, and an educational center for instructional classes in sculpture, painting, drawing, life drawing, and printmaking. In the early 1970s, he helped establish the Firehouse Fine Arts Association which later became known as the Wisconsin Fine Arts Association and subsequently as the Ozaukee Art Center when it moved to the historic Washington School and then to Yank’s brewery complex. Up until his death, Yank continued to be a mentor, shared his university-quality presses, and instructed artists in various types of printmaking.

Paul Yank, Untitled (Clothed Figure), welded steel with stained glass, 82 x 26 x 26”. Courtesy of the Cedarburg Art Museum.

Paul Yank had an innate genius. Nothing was ever an accident, but was the result of natural talent, experience, and curiosity. This exhibition exemplifies Yank’s masterful creation of compositional complexity whether it be with an intricate design of metal and stained glass or stratified monoprints with such depth that it challenges the definition of traditional monoprinting.

The prints and sculptures of Yank’s later years, as represented in this exhibition, regularly pay homage to his experiences and influences with an openness and regard for cultures beyond Wisconsin. Yank’s subject matter derives from a variety of world cultures and religions as informed by his cultural anthropological studies, found appreciation of the indigenous and ancient culture of Japan, and world travels.

Explore Yank’s genius from May 18 to September 24, 2023. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 20 from 3 to 5:30pm and will be open to the public. Paul Yank’s daughter, Karen Yank will be speaking at 3:30pm. This exhibition is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and Wisconsin Arts Board.

The Cedarburg Art Museum welcomes visitors Thursday-Saturday, 10am – 4pm, and Sunday, 12 – 4pm.

Visit Cedarburgartmuseum.org for more information.

Published by Artdose Magazine

Founded in 2013, Artdose Magazine LLC is an independent print and digital art magazine committed to connecting and supporting the visual arts in the Midwest. Published by Frank Juárez, the magazine is premised on the belief that we all share common goals of introducing, engaging, and offering diverse art experiences. Artdose Magazine LLC appears in print as a bi-annual art magazine, through a weekly art e-newsletter and on Instagram and Facebook. About Frank Juárez Frank Juárez is an award winning art educator, artist, publisher, art coach, and former gallery director living and working in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.. Organizing local and regional art exhibitions, community art events, facilitating presentations, supporting artists through professional development workshops, use of social media and networking has placed him in the forefront of advancing and promoting local artists and attracting regional and national artists to collaborate, network and exhibit in Wisconsin.

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