Art is on display at 800 UBD Gallery
Photo by Russell Panczenko
One of the subjects of Russell Panczenko’s photographs was sculptor Tom Every in his studio in Cooksville, Wisconsin.

From curator to curator, Russell Panczenko follows his retirement last September as museum director of the Chazen Museum of Art with an exhibition of his own photographs.

Panczenko has mounted an exhibition of 60 photographs – images of buildings, portraits of artists at work in their studios and everyday objects – which will be presented from May 4 to September 28 at the 800 UBD gallery. The gallery is nestled inside the UW Hospital and Clinics Recruitment Building at University Bay Drive.

Joyce Bromley, docent at Chazen, invited Panczenko to start his photography at Gallery 800 UBD, where Bromley is the curator.

Originally from Germany and raised in Connecticut, Panczenko earned his doctorate in art history in Florence, Italy, and is an avid traveler. He says he’s been taking pictures since he was a teenager.

Panczenko says he treasured the autonomy he was given when he arrived in Madison in 1984 to work at Chazen, then known as the Elvehjem Museum of Art.

After 33 years there, Panczenko says leading the museum’s privately funded $43 million expansion is his greatest achievement and his legacy. The 86,000 square foot development opened in 2011 for storage and artwork preservation work.

Under Panczenko’s leadership, the museum nearly doubled the size of its collection from 12,000 to 21,000 pieces. As of February 2017, the Chazen — renowned for major donors Jerome A. and Simona Chazen — had Wisconsin’s second-largest art collection.

Panczenko says he has no interest in taking a position on the museum’s advisory board because he wants new director Amy Gilman to take up residence at the museum on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Gilman was named to Chazen’s position in September.

“I don’t know what Amy’s aesthetic vision is, but in terms of running an institution, she’s down to earth,” Panczenko says.

With the photographs he took during his travels around the world lining the floors, tables and walls of his home on campus, Panczenko says he spent hours deciding which images to include in the exhibit. and in what order.

Panczenko admits the process has proven that, retired or not, he will always be conservative.

Tamira Madsen is a Fitchburg-based writer.

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