Wisconsin Tavern League
September 2 - October 3, 2010
Over a period of 18 months, artist Carl Corey produced a series of 120 color photographs of Wisconsin taverns in various locales across the state. "Wisconsin Tavern League" is Corey's effort to document such sites as culturally important communal gathering places. His images are not just portraits of the people who own and frequent these establishments, but also of the taverns themselves, each one personalized with taxidermy specimens, hand-painted scenic murals, and the requisite pool tables and neon beer signs.
Corey observes: "Many of these bars are the only public gathering place in the rural communities they serve. These simple taverns offer the individual the valuable opportunity for face to face conversation and camaraderie, particularly as people become more physically isolated through the accelerated use of the Internet's social networking, mobile texting, Facebook, LinkedIn, gaming, and the rapid fire of email."
Will they endure? Corey cites an increasing number of small tavern closures as well as the spreading popularity of "mega" sports bars as evidence for their potential demise. If this is a trend, his series could be a last chance to witness the unique interiors of Wisconsin's beloved taverns as we know them today.
Born in Chicago in 1954, Carl Corey holds a BFA from Southern Illinois University and has been a practicing artist since 1979. His work has been exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, including recent shows in Seattle, Madison, Kansas City, and Hong Kong. Corey's award-winning photographs can be found in museum, corporate, and private collections, and will be featured in two forthcoming publications: A Portrait of the Wisconsin Tavern (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2011) and New York: A Photographer's City (Rizzoli, 2011). He lives in Wisconsin.