Treasures of the Tocovava | Travel | Chicago Reader

Treasures of the Tocovava 

These Parts

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These pictures from the permanent collection of the Tocovava, formerly known as the Stockton Art Museum, are on exhibit through June 19 at the C'est Pour Moi coffeehouse, 30 N. Whittaker in New Buffalo, Michigan. The shop is open daily 8 AM to 7 PM unless business is slow. Curator Joe Puleo, who wrote the commentary here, holds regular hours as manager, though he'd prefer visits before 5. Catalogs with tipped-in color plates of these and other works from the collection are available by special order for $15. Call 269-612-2120 or e-mail for more.

Portrait of Paulo Friere

Marcos Boffa


Acrylic on canvas

The Continuing Education Program of the Stockton Public School System Purchase

This dramatic and monumental portrait conveys not so much the personality of Boffa's subject as the high ideals of his office. Paulo Friere was the director of the Department of Education and Culture in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil, where he democratized the Brazilian electorate by setting up adult literacy courses. For that act the militaristic government jailed him. After his release he came to America, where he was surprised to find similar repression and exclusion in the educational system. In Portrait of Paulo Friere Boffa reveals his skill in handling textures, with the representation of bright thoughts (colors) through the forehead and the captivating brushstrokes of the beard.

Smiling Horse

Bernice Horton


Acrylic on canvas panel

Hospice of Marion County Inc. Purchase

Part of Horton's "Countryside" series, Smiling Horse has many elements of Horton's mature style. The way the horse seems to regard the spectator--an effect engineered by the high viewpoint and lack of balancing elements in the background (breaking with Horton's earlier techniques borrowed from Caravaggio)--is spectacular, and fits neatly within the tradition of equestrian portraits. Other devices that enhance the piece are the eccentric coloring, the flat lighting, and the rather disquieting lack of energy in the countenance of the horse.

Popolla's Mother

C. Popolla


Acrylic on canvas

On loan from Marty Smart Productions

When the industrialist Richard Lester Wonder wanted to commission a portrait of his wife he looked no further than his stepson, C. Popolla, whom he hoped to placate with a handsome payment. The effect is severe, undignified, and hostile, a vicious comment on a union that Popolla scorned. Popolla was chased off the estate, and for the remainder of his life he was estranged from his mother and stepfather.

The Absinthe Sniffer

Anonymous Busch


Acrylic on canvas panel

Gift of Dorothy Potter

This is the only work definitively attributed to Busch, and so reflects the style and preoccupations considered characteristic of him. Liquor store owner Dorothy Potter keeps the painting in her apartment at the Cloisters of the Riverhead. The figure illustrates one of the seven deadly sins, exuding the appropriate self-loathing and composed with a sense of the fantastic.

Little Tea Cup

Wally Fuchs


Acrylic on canvas panel

Goodwill Industries Purchase

The enigmatic and strange fantasies that infuse the work of Wally Fuchs did nothing to damage his reputation during his lifetime. Various attempts have been made to relate these hallucinations to the realities of his own day. Some of the sexually charged visions have been related to Fuchs's matutinal architecture, at least in theory. But the most promising line has been to recognize many of his paintings as illustrations of proverbs: for instance, Little Tea Cup recalls the proverb "Pleasure is as fragile as porcelain."

St. Elizabeth as a Child

Fr. Victor


Acrylic on canvas

Donated by the Fraternal Order of Police

The influence of 15th-century Netherlandish painting is clearly evident in this work bearing the signature of Fr. Victor, particularly in the rigid pose and sorrowful expression of Saint Elizabeth. The buttons, numbering ten, are thought to be a hint at the age of the sitter. Or a reminder of the Ten Commandments.

Perseus and Andromeda (After Velazquez)

Chesebro the Younger


Acrylic on canvas

Victor Petraukas Purchase

General Membership Fund

In the manner of Velazquez, who in The Topers set ordinary folk beside Bacchus, here Chesebro the Younger puts Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, and Andromeda, the daughter of the vain and stupid Cassiopeia, in the context of the 20th century. Chesebro is saying, simply, that love, no matter how godly, will face uncounted and oftentimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles before arriving at "Happily Ever After." This picture is uplifting particularly for equating heroic love with the love of an ordinary American couple. Note also the strength of the lenses in the eyeglasses, no doubt a reminder that "Love Is Blind."


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