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A Fitting Tribute

Gifts made in honor of Johanna “Jo” Rosengarten Garfield add innovative prints to the Chazen’s permanent collection.

Leslie J. Garfield ’53 recently made two gifts in honor of his wife Johanna “Jo” Rosengarten Garfield, who passed away on August 5, 2021. The two met at UW–Madison in 1950 and were married for more than 60 years.

Johanna (l) and Leslie (r) Garfield are seen with Bucky Badger at the Fifth Birthday Party for the Chazen Building

Johanna (l) and Leslie (r) Garfield are seen with Bucky Badger at a celebration marking the Chazen Building’s fifth anniversary.

Leslie’s generous contributions have made possible the purchase of six prints from the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at the Columbia University School of the Arts for the Chazen’s permanent collection. Remaining funds from the purchase will further support the Chazen by helping to purchase additional prints.

Leslie and Johanna Garfield shared a passion for print collecting, and together they built an exceptional collection of modern and contemporary prints. Leslie’s recommendation that the Chazen acquire prints by John Walker and Korakrit Arunanondchai reflects both his deep knowledge of printmaking history and an awareness of printmaking’s continued evolution in the twenty-first century.

The prints by Walker relate to a body of work contemplating the ecosystem of coastal Maine, where the artist lives and works. Walker chose woodcut—the earliest method of printing images—to create expressive, abstract interpretations of the seacoast that are raw and emotional rather than picturesque. Visual elements recur across the three prints, yet the images differ. Together the woodcuts narrate a story about continuity and change in the natural world.

The three prints by Arunanondchai are quite different. They relate to videos and performances that the Thai artist created between 2014 and 2017. Rather than using a single printmaking method, Arunanondchai integrated digitally printed video stills, screen printing, and unconventional materials. In There’s a word I’m trying to remember for a feeling I’m about to have (A distracted path towards extinction), pieces of bleached denim, a cut photograph, and a piece of faux fur, have been collaged to the surface of a digital inkjet print. The flat, glossy photograph of a weathered hand appears to be holding and feeling the thick fur. Arunanondchai’s juxtaposition of tactile materials with digitally generated images evokes his multimedia installations addressing the complexity of our digital age, marked by the hybridization of physical and virtual experience.

“These gifts continue to strengthen the impact that Leslie and Jo Garfield have had on the museum’s collection, as outstanding examples of their unerring eye for quality and innovation,” said Chazen director Amy Gilman. “I cannot think of a better way to honor Jo’s incredible intellect, generosity, and ability for storytelling than these works.”

The Garfields have provided many years of service on the Chazen’s Advisory Council, for which Leslie continues to serve, and have given tremendous support to the museum over the years. The Leslie and Johanna Garfield Galleries, named in recognition of their generous gift towards the museum’s 2011 expansion, can be found on the second floor of the Chazen building and serves as a main space for rotating exhibitions.