Mirroring the image of a seasoned Olde World guild craftsman’s workshop, a studio space exudes consummate attention to detail. Jars and wooden vessels store troves of pens, like scaled-down silos stuffed full. Straight edges and obscure stencils of great variety each have their place, arranged meticulously.
Tiling the tables and walls, the flourishing offspring of Nick Ludwig’s utensils have qualities expected from a currency mint engraver’s plate, a preciseness however rendered only with ink and a small metal sprocket as a stencil guide.
Ludwig’s designs each spiral from a vertex with mathematical symmetry of natures order, as curved structures radiate with his discretion for line and complementary pigment. Fanning out, each petal-like appendage has a main color fill. The final touches of texture are given with a sensitively graded cross-hatch, channeling folk stories and wisdom centuries old.
Ludwig shares a 1st floor studio space with several artists at the Hide House. Bay View Gallery Night is tonight from 5p to 10p.
In the undergrowth of the Hide House, creative spores germinate in a first floor alcove, a respite for a few recent MIAD products. Spring Gallery Night in Milwaukee gave them a chance to showcase their toils, carving dedicated display space into sections for each studio mate’s work. Bay View Gallery Night may prove more of a debutant dinner party.
One wall stood out. Sparse and drained, outlines of a horses’ head vaguely pressed against the art paper’s surface. Other mammalian taxidermy busts stuck to the wall as well. The strokes appear once over and the chosen colors contrast muted purple shades adjacent to white. Why do I like these? Maybe the concept? Tegan Andrich has conjured these images as game hunter would aim, fire, kill, lop off a trophies head, stuff and mount it, on a wall.
Another of Andrich’s paintings, braced over the canvas stretcher bars, holds a large format. Loosely defined, the composition’s meticulous figurative themes finish craggy, defining the outermost edges sometimes with a blur of paint. The center-most portions of the painting render blindness, conspicuously possessing a subtle and thoughtful wash.
Searching for a reference in Andrich’s work to an art movement, led me to Dee Ferris, a cagey contemporary artist in the UK. A now defunct indie art mag Under/Current had one of the only early written reviews out there of Ferris’s work. A exceedingly well-composed critique by Yannis Tsitsovits suggested a possible stylistic answer, a Russian literary device: ostranenie.
Bay View Gallery Night runs tomorrow at various locations through out Bay View including the Hide House.
The full blown quakes shaking the current discourse surrounding Niki Johnson’s Eggs Benedict, reached me as a mere tremor aftershock, a rumor of spectacular occurrence. I witnessed the aftermath of Johnson’s creatively seismic work during the day session of Gallery Night Spring 2013. Astounded, I expected to like the piece not to have my afternoon taken over by it.
Debra Brehmer, gladly spending some time with her patrons, candidly observed of Johnson’s piece a quality indescribably awe inspiring, a gestalt nearly impossible to render in contemporary art. Brehmer, Portrait Society Gallery’s Director, profoundly noted that the weaving technique Johnson used to ensnare Pope Benedict’s image mimics fine needle point work made so often from women’s hands; an irony for a woman’s craft to have created an irreverent iconic reference to an institution women have been so systematically subjugated within.
Depending on which side of Eggs Benedict pedestal display you approach from, you either feel duped or immediately captured. The portrait’s verso is exposed, revealing the tied medial regions and exposed openings of the many contraceptives. They are so carefully secured on the wire grid, in appearance, sloppy and awkward with no semblance of the intended likeness; a vestige of the personal made uncomfortably public. This window into Johnson’s artistic process demystifies the piece’s craft work, increasing its power.
Eggs Benedict by Niki Johnson on display at the Portrait Society Gallery, 2013
I stood with a couple hand fulls of people for much longer than you may traditionally imbibe an artwork, contemplating whether on a metaphysical level the Catholic church could oppose condoms as a mere object if not used for a contraceptive. Upon further deliberation, given that the portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict referenced in Eggs Benedict originates from a group of press photos associated with his now infamous statement that condoms help spread AIDS in Africa, and the unequivocal prohibition of contraceptives of all forms in Catholic dogma, it is absolutely impossible to parse the medium from the message. In fact, in no more certain terms could the adage “The medium is the message” hold true.
The stage of Eggs Benedict will always be heightened by Pope Benedict’s historic resignation, an eerie stroke fate for Niki Johnson. I sincerely hope they meet someday in some realm. Johnson has put Eggs Benedict up for auction, with proceeds going to benefit AIDS research. The opening bid came in at $20 thousand.
Johnson’s Eggs Benedict secures a moment in art history for Milwaukee; the Portrait Society Gallery serving as the vessel to bring this piece into the art world internationally; April 19, 2013 its semi-official first public opening.
Eggs Benedict remains on display at the Portrait Society Gallery through July 28th, Thursday – Saturday 12 noon to 5p. It will join a series of Niki Johnson’s work opening June 6, 2013 entitled Sourcebook: Martha Wilson and MKE.
Breaking in its newly reconfigured space, the Portrait Society Gallery’s latest opening went easy as a Saturday afternoon whistle Friday night at the Marshall Building. At least that’s the way feels when you just get to be one of the many enthused patrons.
An Enclave, Rarified
For several years prior, the Portrait Society’s raw 5th floor space stitched a hallway of individual offices into a quiet cave of high quality, highly focused artistic subject matter. Pieces hung in PSG’s noncontiguous display areas, for you to find. No longer the case, the space and its work now finds you.
Formerly, a plain-old door threshold lead to an makeshift office, slash 1 of 3 dedicated display areas, slash storage closet. The PSG said f-it and removed the entire corner of the hallway, replacing it with a very attractive, skillfully made glass entry way.
Inside they adjusted an interior wall to create a tangible but quaint division between three contiguous display areas, one capitalizing on existing exposed brick that will never get old. Studio lighting added, and action! A polished gallery space to suit the already exquisitely polished curating taste of PSG’s Debra Brehmer.
Viewing the Latest
Now showing at the Portrait Society Gallery, several exhibitors dual traditional photographic exposure techniques against those renegade ones. With Natural History ,Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lotham display series of enhanced silhouettes that retain some of the human subjects’ physical facial features and impose on to them others.
Nicholas Grider , in co-artistic display with the Portrait Society, delves into vintage photographic styles compiling a series of family mantle pieces and adding to them contemporary aesthetic appeal.
Taking center display space, with their installation Decay Utopia Decay, having used an oversized DIY camera and an improvised enlarger to muster 30×36 inch cyanotype exposures, hardcore photography virtuosos J. Shimon and J. Lindemann, draw out ambiguous and mysteriously staged photo frames that dramatically convey 15 thousand word statements.
The Portrait Society Gallery’s latest installments hit the wall November 9 and will hang there until January 5, 2013. The Portrait Society Gallery opens to the public Friday thru Sunday, 12 to 5pm, on the 5th floor of the Marshall Building in the Third Ward.
It’s her first, but highly unlikely that it’s her last. Nadia Smale has an art show coming up at Orcanine Abbey this Friday night titled Reincarnation. She has moxie and a proclivity for making cool stuff, as all artists do, with an eye for aesthetic and guts to take chances. How can you blame her? She’s not yet turned 18. Getting a few moments of pre-show reflection,artist and mentor Akua Oladunjoye shares this guest interview with Nadia for Local Trolley.
Akua Oladunjoye for Local Trolley: Thank you Nadia for welcoming this interview! It is a pleasure to sit down with you and hear your thoughts on your first upcoming art show: Reincarnation.
LT: Let’s dive right in. Why “Reincarnation” what does this word mean to you?
Nadia Smale: Everything needs a new start in life. People, art, music… why not it is a new generation.
LT: Did you ever think you would have this opportunity?
NS: It’s something I’ve always wanted. Down the line my first art [school] choice is MIAD. A special lady who was working with me took me to Milwaukee and I fell in love with the east side and saw their gallery and that was what I wanted [wink, wink], to have a show and be a part of their gallery.
LT: How long have you been doing art?
NS: Since kindergarten. It was required throughout elementary, middle and high school. I fell in love with it, that’s all.
LT: what motivates and inspires you to do art?
NS: I think of family members, friends, my cat and Akua who tags me along. My grandfather, dad and sometimes my mom inspire me to do art. My grandfather was a drawer. My dad likes to look at it and my mom thinks she is an artist, haaaa! I sent my dad a picture on his phone and that made me smile.
LT: Has art saved you?
NS: Yes, a lot. I had to keep a journal in school and when I wanted to write nasty things I didn’t. I would draw what I felt instead.
LT: What is your most enjoyable material to work with?
NS: Charcoal, it’s crazy but fun to work with. If it doesn’t work the way you plan it turns into something else. I enjoy that.
LT: What is the most difficult material you have ever worked with so far?
NS: Metal, when working on the metal rose it took a long time. Had to sketch it out then I worked with tin to make the petals using exotic curves, and I had to get the stem right. It took 3 months every day working on it to get it just right.
LT: What is your least favorite material to work with?
NS: Don’t have one, I wanted to get rid of a glass bowl [I made] that my mom has, but she loves it. I like working with all the mediums.
LT: You talked about your favorite bands and musicians, how do they, if at all, influence you and your art?
NS: Skrillex and other musicians can make the sounds flow in your body and you want to move, to take whatever is in your hand a paint brush or whatever and create, like water moving slowly when you actually do it, its maybe crazy just like you really are when you are listening.
LT: Is there something you want to add?
NS: I love doing art every single day, I create even if I am doodling in class. I like the tool in my hand, the smudges it’s life and nothing without it. Architecture, walls, roofs, food is culinary art outside the world everything is made of its own creation that’s what I like and want to do. That’s how I start something that matters… you know art.
Reincarnation, An Art Benefit for Jagged Edges by Nadia Smale opens Friday, October 26th at 6p in the Orcanine Abbey, 1718 N 1st Street, Studio 5N2. Free to the public, but donations are welcome to support Nadia’s pursuit of art education. There will also be a silent auction. Reincarnation is a participating exhibit of Tap the Potential, a series of art exhibitions to raise disability awareness.
In the Frederick Layton Gallery, propped up on a small shelf a couple of well-worn sketch books atypically invite peering. They appear weightless, floating with the levity of their contents. Next to them, a 11×17 or so framed movie style poster reads The Peeling, in thin modern san serif script, set on a putrid green gradient background ascending to off-tan.
As if chosen from a casting call staged in Danaya Khartcheko’s sketch book, a particularly oxymoron-ironic character plucked from an audition line of seductive to absurd beta anime illustrations poses shyly in the center of the poster, thick spiraled horns draping downward like pig tails, big innocent eyes gaping. It’s Twiggy. She’s the star of Khartcheko‘s animated mini-drama playing on a nearby flat screen.
Ripe Banana, opposite Twiggy in The Peeling, menacing, intensely yellow and obese, sits onerously on a table grimacing and grumbling. I’m fighting hard to continue discerning the plot, I think I am hallucinating at this point, but as I recall a powerful dandy of a man chose Ripe Banana as an ingredient for his next dessert. Twiggy, taken by the dandy’s influence, must do the peeling honors while the he engages in other worldly fancies.
Compelled and ready for action, Twiggy maintains her demure temperament a few unsuspecting moments before springing to the table, confronting Ripe Banana with a swift chomp to the skin. In the end, picking its own time to go, Ripe Banana gets peeled, smelly and wasted.
Short and enjoyable, Khartchenko’s animated piece falls somewhere between National Film Board of Canada and Tim Burton stylistically and tells a dark but humorous story accompanied by rhythms from The Scissors Sisters, proving traditional animation techniques are well worth staying around. Series in the making? Let’s hope so.
The closing of MIAD’s 2012 Juried Senior Thesis Exhibition coincided with the 25th Anniversary of Gallery Night in Milwaukee.
Glancing out the window while commuting down 35th Street, in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor, you might imagine yourself a red blood cell floating through plaque crusted arteries. The decay of weathered brick one-story machine shops, once churning with activity, appear largely abandoned and vacant. Some shops are now schools or churches, some shops maintained their industrial roots and continue machining, building and manufacturing. One shop in particular, Vanguard Sculpture Services, consummates ingenuity found in the neighborhood’s traditions and the creativity of craft and art culture smelting in Milwaukee’s niche scenes.
In the Guild
Since 1996 in the Vanguard space and for many years before that, Vanguard’s proprietor Mike Nolte has cast bronze sculptures ranging in size from house cat to adult human and beyond. His recent winter Gallery Night exhibit opening entitled Founders highlights his artisan craft, forging sculpture artists’ work into permanent fixtures of life expression. Inaugurating the new Vanguard Gallery space extraordinary bronze cast pieces, formed by nearly 20 different artists, pose virtually immortal on pedestals and rappel from Vanguard Gallery‘s walls. Among them a large spider gently claws the wall, and a cubist inspired cat prowls.
A Few Among the Sculptors
Bernard Roberts, Bountifully Shaped
Cindy Rust Saiia, Coded Panes
Don Rambadt, Flying Fairly
Care Ekpo, Of Topics Less Known
William Zweifel, Woven Glass
Laura Priebe, Fossils of the Present
David Aschenbrener, Fire and Ice
Charlotte Darling Diehl, A Mother’s Love
Art as Labor
Nolte offered tours of his bronze casting shop in conjunction with Vanguard Gallery’s recent installation opening. Explaining his modern application of the ancient lost-wax technique that brings bronze sculptures into being, Nolte’s overview revealed the tremendously time intensive process lending to the relatively high value bronze sculptures have given the relatively low value of the metal itself. Essentially, the bronze-smith replicates stone or clay reference sculptures, provided by the artist, using several successive molds made from plastic, plaster and wax before reaching the final stage of pouring liquid bronze into the ceramic cast.
“Freezing” at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, the bronze form eventually cools to room temperature and can be handled. Larger sculptures are cast in pieces and must be welded together strategically like a 3-D puzzle. Nolte, in this final stage, may spend thousands of hours grinding and filing the sculpture’s welds and rough spots until every surface lays immaculately smooth. Color can be added to the bronze using the Patina process. The finished bronze is fired again to remove any moisture from the metal. Applying an extremely thin wax coating, adds a refined finish to the final product.
Bronze about Town
Vanguard’s work stands tall all over Milwaukee and the Country. Some of Nolte’s more famous works include the Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown Minneapolis and the George Stephen (founder of Weber Grills) statue. His works can also be seen about town, notably casts of Gwendolyn Gillen’s ducks on the Milwaukee River bridge on Wisconsin Avenue, and less notably, the placards on the Walnut Street Bridge noting Halyard Park’s namesakes Wilbur and Ardie Halyard.
Milwaukee goes to DC
If you missed the State of the Union address last night the 30th Street Corridor, maybe one of Milwaukee’s most promising areas for development, made our fair city proud. The train manufacturer Talgo would have solidly anchored the Corridor with a long term commitment to occupy the Century City development (the former A.O. Smith site) until Wisconsin’s current Governor, in one of his first ill-advised acts, nixed State support of a Talgo‘s relocation to Milwaukee.
Despite this set back, President Obama pointed out in the SOTU (minute 11:30 if you search the video) that another of the Corridor’s residents, Masterlock, recently returned to full production capacity. Masterlock makes quality U-Locks for all you bikers out there, and they are made in Milwaukee. The good press is certainly welcome news for the 30th Street Corridor BID Executive Director Gloria Stearns, who has noted that in addition to manufacturing, her interests include attracting talent from the creative arts sector to the Corridor to compliment businesses like Vanguard and efforts such as IN:SITE.
Vanguard Gallery’s current installation Founders runs until February 17th. The closing reception will feature a live bronze pouring demonstration.
Vanguard casting extends services to HAAT project, Taki S. Raton, Milwaukee Courier
Getting on the elevator, I dodge a man dressed in chef’s garb pushing an overloaded cart of kitchen wares headed for Chin’s Restaurant. Journeying through the Third Ward’s Marshall Building up five floors to the Portrait Society Gallery space, you realize that part of enjoying any art destination comes with the trip there. Places that make you work a bit to arrive conjure much more moxie.
Closing soon at the Portrait Society Gallery, Jean Roberts Guequierre shares her masterfully brushed series Giotto’s Eyes. A small collection of illustrations and paintings, alluding to the work of seminal renaissance painter Giotto di Bondone, serenade the viewer in the Portrait Society Gallery‘s stillness. Especially true of Roberts Guequierre‘s work in oil, detail resounds in each composition with velvety fury, easily lost in cursory glances. Intent gazes bring you in contact with her subjects emotions, circumstances and purposes.
Full of Hue
In Giotto di Bondone’s pieces like many others dealing in Medieval and folk art subject matter, imagery and symbolism stands central to conveying meaning. Roberts Guequierre spares none of these artistic languages as some pieces in the Giotto’s Eyes exhibit remain curious even in their apparent explicitness. Meanwhile four of Roberts Guequierre‘s pieces in particular tell a complex tale(s) involving several reoccurring character presences veiling copious religious symbolism held within seemingly absurd people and scenarios.
Striking in manner, Roberts Guequierre capturing a tender interaction between companions leaves a notable tidbit buried for those with religious furor. The cheek to cheek moment seen in the painting setting an older man and woman mutually beloved, recreates the exact moment Anna whispers to Joachim that she conceived a child after being barren for 50 years. The child bears a familiar name, Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.
In Adjacent Galleries
Every Day presents photo montages prepared by 13 Milwaukee personalities, including recognizable names like Julia Taylor. Tasked with taking a series of photos during a 24 hour period over the course of a typical day, a variety of interpretations arise as vertical wall space supports groups photographic portraits.
Giotto’s Eyes displays until January 14th at the Portrait Society Gallery <(hours), a missed opportunity for serious art collectors when the closing passes. Every Day closes on the same date.
Portrait Society: Three shows change your outlook, by Kat Murrel, Third Coast Digest
Guequierre’s Beautiful ‘Eyes’ at Portrait Society Gallery by Judith Ann Moriarty, ExpressMilwaukee
Magicians coined the phrase the “hand is quicker than the eye”, with alacrity Jason Anthony LeRoy proves the hand may out quick the mind. Leaving his works’ presence then returning to stare again, starring once gives no guarantee of capturing all illusions trapped in LeRoy’s art. A theme of Gallery Night Fall Edition 2011 at the Studio Lounge, LeRoy joined a bivouac of artists employing variations on human and animal subjects.
Stretching over birch panel, intricate scenes rendered by LeRoy’s graphite and white chalk implements contrast and weave symbols, livings beings and foreign objects together. The edges blur, flashes of emotion appear in unlikely places. All together 5 large pieces fuse surreal and modern art principles with shades of pop and street art, a birthing of miraculous contemporary conceptions of lived experience.
Walking into Studio Lounge, large canvases covered in artistic expression offer salutations, bizarre and gripping. On the canvas lay familiar forms, a profile of a face, the appendage of an animal, a human body clothed. The forms meld together, a technique exquisitely conveyed by Jenie Gao. Featured on Gallery Night at Studio Lounge, Jenie Gao masterfully persuades her audiences to leave their realities’ and enter hers.
Abstract imagery clouds concrete themes, endangering a surface dweller’s faux pas: claiming a weirdness violation. Quite exceptional, and coherent if not only in craft, Jenie Gao‘s work displays detail in the details. Executing highly proportioned and realistic ink-based compositions, simultaneously in some pieces, Gao reaches for hard to attain anthropomorphic and polymorphic styles seemingly effortlessly.
Gao, also proficient in wood etching, scores exacting resolution in her images. Graphically depicting movement that captures the gravity of that exact moment, precisely, gives Jenie Gao’s work near photographic qualities. Gao’s current works on display at Studio Lounge highlight several pieces from her recent project Thresholds. Jenie Gao’s exhibition anchors Studio Lounges’s wall space until November 6th.
Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) opened it’s Beyond the Canvas exhibition at Zimmerman Architectural Studios Friday night. The work presented in Beyond the Canvas featured a cadre of artists taking inspiration from the rejuvenation of the Menomonee Valley.
Their expressions took on a variety of mediums ranging from water color, collage, to photography created En Plein Air. Photographer and digital artist Sara Risley, whose submission won 2nd place in her category, and visual artist Edmund Mathews’ work captures attention, along with many other excellent art pieces.
Zimmerman Architectural Studios provided a tremendous venue for MARN’s Gallery Night event co-sponsored by the Menomonee Valley Partners and Friends of the Hank Aaron State Trail. Vacant for several years, the expansive brontosaurus fossil of a building, just South of I-94, housed the Milwaukee’s Retort Building at the turn of the turn of the 20th century. The Retort Building operated a bank of coal furnaces capturing gas that circulated through underground pipelines into the City’s manually lit street lanterns, to illuminate the night. Reconstructed by Zimmerman in 2011, the restored Retort Building brings a spark the Valley.
If you missed it during Doors Open Milwaukee, the second night of Beyond the Canvas takes place tonight and features a silent auction of all the work on display. Zimmerman Studios offers a spectacular example of historic preservation on a grand scale, a futuristic trip back in time.
MARN’s Beyond the Canvas is tonight Saturday October 22nd, 5:00-8:00pm at Zimmerman Architectural Studios, 2122 West Mt. Vernon Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233.
(As a bonus you can peek in 4Seasons Skate Park on the way)
It still had that old musk that old mansions have. The rich wood finish absorbs aged air then initiates respiration of elegant atmosphere. Avenues West’s Brumder Mansion recently played host to an art soiree, lining-up contemporary artworks with steeped traditional pieces of the historic home’s permanent art collection. The artists exhibiting their techniques make up a short list of some of Milwaukee’s young and most talented visual artists.
The Brumder Mansion, a storied residential structure once symbolic of the Brumder families’ status as one Milwaukee’s great legacies, today is home to a Bed and Breakfast still baring it’s builder’s name. In addition to hosting its patrons’ get-aways in supreme Victorian style, occasionally The Brumder Mansion shyly invites guests to special events like the upcoming series of dinner play performances in mid-September entitled Speak Easy of Murder.
On this warm late August night local artists presenting in the Milwaukee Artist Showcase at the Brumder Mansion, organized by Brittany Farina and Sara Risley, upstaged the regularly scheduled programming.
Shari Solheim’s photography affects a visceral response, using contrast and ambiguous focal points to accentuate the mysteries hidden in her frames. Presenting images revealing the Humanity of the Moment the Brumder Mansion’s Speak Easy accommodated Solhiem’s subjects in time frozen, mostly in black and white exposures. Solheim has a knack for the gritty, capturing heart felt candor and angst blurred against life’s thin veil of reality and mental anguish.
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Extraordinarily sized blooming flowers spanned several sprawling canvases. Digital design impressario and musician Mike Magestro lent artistic prowess to Brumder Mansion’s art night, sharing tragically emotional brush strokes that together formed viewing perspectives normally only created when holding a flower close, as if to gain the aroma.
Paintings of large flowers made famous by Georgia O’Keefe tended toward perfection. Magestro tends toward creating expressions, as the cycles and effort needed to open all the plant’s petals found their way into his finished works. Bringing cohesion to the pieces, layered backgrounds with vertical lines and blended hues leave the flowering forms unguided, yet subtly influenced.
Bringing business personas to life for a who’s who of local establishments (double-click on the Polaroid image, brilliant), Magestro founded MindSpike Design as full range graphic design and marketing information space. In the visual arts as well, Magestro demonstrates that his talent can find its way without getting lost.
BACK to COVER PAGE, Art Opulence, The Brumder Mansion
Local Trolley 2011 Honors!, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-13I
A Commentary Brightly
In the main foyer of the Brumder Mansion, Amanda Iglinski popped art creations, that would strike any alternative medium user’s fascination. Fluorescent tones combined, outlined by a glaze of black spray paint, the stenciled images gesture, wink, and pose for the canvas.
Iglinski dabbles in the absurd, depicting a mob boss brandishing a revolver pistol next to a large dusky purple daisy. Strangely, mob boss was my first impression of the subject of the piece. Iglinski’s piece, titled Budd Dwyer, actually references a still photograph taken just before the then Treasurer of Pennsylvania, shall we say, retired dramatically in January 1987 amid allegations of corruption. Digging deeper into Dwyer’s story, his looks deceive, and the episode in American history leaves plenty of room for interpreting its implications for our society (images associated with is story are very graphic).
Capturing other iconic semi-sociological themes with A Gentleman… and Lady of Guadalupe as a Robot, Iglinski presents work that more lightly scratches the grime off of the dirt caked window of our collective understanding, allowing viewers access to ironic commentary. Other pieces in Iglinski’s display of spray paint technique kept up with the visually interesting qualities of the other works, less attention to intentional statements.
A multi-deciplined portfolio of art complements Amanda Iglinski’s other endeavors, which include heavy civic involvement in the Milwaukee arts community and freelance commercial graphic design.
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Vibrant and playful portraits done by Brittany Farina, incarnate famous personages of past entertainment eras. Gray scale metallic tones, with bright accents on focal points like eyes or lips, give visual range to portrait subjects like young Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. In the Brumder Mansion’s lower level gallery, Farina’s work complimented well the historic mansion’s Victorian and roaring twenties influenced decor.
Testing the waters of morbid, other notable Farina compositions mutate human and animal forms, uniting them with under-worldly physiques possessing freakish coolness of silent film and vaudeville demeanor. Farina’s style befits stylized artistic visions conjured by illustrated motion pictures. Fixing your eyes upon her work, one might expect her drawings to suddenly animate.
A consumate art enthusiast, Brittany Farina regularly supports other local artists by featuring them on her Facebook artist’s page.
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With streaking complex patterns and distinct color palettes, Sara Risley experiments with unsuspecting motifs, splashing them with highly concentrated and intense tones. Risley’s creative work easily stands on its own, but also does well providing themes for promotional materials and other formats more deliberately aimed at communicating messages.
Risely recently began experimenting with motifs evoked by a recent exhibition entitled Things on a String, put on by Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN). Infusing the overarching concept driving Things on a String into her White Series, Risley’s knack for depicting rich textures springs forth. Aesthetically solvent, Risley’s stylistic investment in swatches and background choices build assets of unique artistic value, exercising her commitment to a hybrid technique.
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Expanding like a sponge with access to water, Milwaukee can’t help but ingest all the art it can get its dilated eyes upon. Gallery Night in Milwaukee is truly reaching major event status, even without complete buy-in from all of Milwaukee’s artistic strong holds.
Some of the Light, Blue Ant Gallery, Third Ward
Through the window of the beautiful Shade Shop Building on Milwaukee and St. Paul, black and white projections of President’s faces shine through a black drape. As a passer by you must go in.
Bryan Cera pulled all kind of crap, from all over the place for Some of the Lights, jury rigging an utter bastardization of multi-media consumer electronics, in the devastating can be used to describe a gorgeous person kind of way.
Some of the Light, Bryan Cera
Some computer device sits on a table with a two posable antenna protruding. It has a lime green screen with two half-inch vertical lines at the bottom left and right corners. A section at the top looks like it is ready to keep score. Could this be PONG! No, even better voice controlled PONG!
Those to antenna were actually microphones, calibrated to move the PONG paddles up the side of the screen in proportion the decibel level and length the note held in your voice. The object of the game is to return the ball to your opponent by positioning the paddle with sound. The microphones amplified grunts, hums, and ahhhs used to steady the paddle, absurdly audible.
A face sticks to the wall via illusion. A video projection of Cera is throw on a mold of a face from behind, a video recorded Cera talks in monotone non-sequiturs to whoever stands and stares.
You notice some one on the way to the exit, heading past two square plastic dishes holding water. Inverted cones rise above the dishes, a cord hangs back into each dish. A digitized wail blares out, a you look for a robotic recreation of WALL-E. The person heading for the exit back tracks in front of the dish apparatus, cueing the sound effects.
A motion sensor translates physical activity from objects in its range into audio frequencies. The sound bothers the water in the square dishes enough for a light to reflect shadows of concentric circles on the wall, commonly attributed to droplets returning to their source.
Turning 1 of 4 knobs, sections of face from various Presidents rotate in view. Video projected on black cloth, crown, nose and chin are mixed and matched from assorted portraits of our nation’s past and present Executives.
Dazed and Computed
Bryan Cera, artist and wizkid, may be cast in the real life documentary of TRON, completely accidentally, any day now. Some of the Light was one of Milwaukee’s best done freelance exhibits to date. Wanna see more from Bryan Cera look! O_O
Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) challenged its emerging artists to work vertically, in Friday night’s exhibition Things on a String. Roughly 35 designers worked with lengths of string that varied greatly in size, some dangling from the ceiling to the floor, others at a length reasonable for guests to reach the objects attached to the ends.
Confined to a surface area allowing minimal application of medium, affixing items of personal import brought meaning to fibers that normally need weaving, braiding or some type of hook and needle action to give them form.
Pieces that hung varied in theme. Beverage bottle caps and pull tabs, discarded bike parts, fabric and trinket fetishes covered string to make collages from miscellaneous materials. Other presentations were more playful, with objects inviting patrons to touch.
Art Without Boarders quotes exhibit curator Becky Tesch as wanting to do Things on a String to give artists a chance to re-center themselves with a light-hearted exercise. However, fearlessly string also tied up spiritual beliefs, unexpected emotions and personal struggles. Here are snippets of what gallery goers saw.
Adam Horwitz craftily arranged oblong spheroid shaped eggs from very thing filament thread, so from afar they appeared to hover off of the ground. We all know were eggs belong, but upon closer examination, the shell plays host to the bird bedding.
In a shredded tire, two stuffed toys propped as if on a yard swing sit perilously. In place of a chain, a seat belt hoists Albin Erhart’s representation off of ground level. Let’s hope everyone was okay.
A face of Buddha in bronze, surrounded by black threads and weighted by a deep red tassel pulls a black string taught, it’s pinned to the ceiling. Angela Smith channels her meditative energy through a low impact movement process called Nia. Calling for balance Angela Smith offers a Buddhist talisman.
Curator, Becky Tesch featured 12 works in Things on a String, some of which focused primarily on rendering bike parts indistinguishable from their designed purpose by force and, in the case of a multiple bike chains, by illusion.
David Tesch’s “things” were on strings but didn’t last long, as warm air heated the colored ice molds, recessed from their cups that caught the drips of melt, as gravity returned them to their vessels as liquid.
Finding the key to anything happens partly by chance but also by persistence. An interesting game, invented by Jessica Poor and Rob Hoffman, pushed the patience of its avian role players. Key seekers strenuously tried to find the key that unlocked each of two birdhouses containing a hidden messages inside.
A dream catcher hovered above for those who took Judy Debrosky’s instructions to lay on the floor and rest my head on a pillow and gaze up.
Several older generation recording devices unwound provided enough length for Laura Gorzek to symbolically part with memories held in place by cassette tape magnetized film.
Knotted into macrame cords, bobby pins peeked out of Maggie Sasso’s string set, creating pincers for holding.
MARN’s Things on a String is kid friendly and on display until August 13.
An hour jaunt up I-43 will land you in Sheboygan, WI, a stylish lakeside neighbor with maritime charm. John Michael Kohler (Gilded Age Wisconsin industrialist and famed namesake of fine toilet and faucet fixtures) felt Sheboygan, at population of 15,000, had too many people a decade into the 20th century to have room for his factory. Cuddled by a patch of forest a few miles away, Kohler, WI became the cradle of iron castings, guiding water through America’s homes and beyond.
The Kohler estate stayed active in Sheboygan and opened the John Michael Kohler Art Center 1967. Completely remodeled during the early 2000′s, the JMKAC greets visitors with a reclaimed historic facade of the town’s library, now serving as a gateway into JMKAC’s modest concrete sculpture garden.
Beasts of Burden
In the JMKAC gallery space, Animal Magnetism shows its last artwork selection in the exhibition entitled Animal Instinct: Allegory, Allusion and Anthropomorpism. Animal Instinct suspends tremendous visual interpretations of animals interacting in their natural habitat, with humans and the human imagination. Multiple artistic techniques and styles represented challenge the viewer’s reality often.
Several large John James Audubon encyclopedic depictions of North American wildlife, from the Milwaukee Art Museum collection, highlight the Animal Instinct installation. Although Audubon sat as a foremost anthropologist of his time, his work through today’s lens appears to project human anxiety on his subject matter. With this tendency, Audubon readily cohabits with the mostly impressionist and surrealist presentations currently found at JMKAC.
Animal Instinct also contains selection of excellent contemporary art pieces. Possessing similar affect to Audubon’s, George Boonrujy inks extraordinary illustrated portraits of animals. Rendering them absent of their habitat, Boonrujy, with or without intent, subtly personifies his impressions of animals surviving life. An artist with Wisconsin ties, Gina Litherland overtly weaves animal life into her graphic story telling. Through her chosen medium, improbable interactions with human beings take place that Litherland makes seem mundane.
In the adjacent gallery, Animal Magnetism transitions into the next JMKAC exhibit Hiding Places: Memory in the Arts. In addition to professional artists, Hiding Places notably calls attention to work of self-taught artists considered by medical standards psychologically impaired (or gifted). Capturing the ruminations of artist savants, Hiding Places allows entry into forbidden mental spaces of several contemporary artists.
New York artist William Powhida shares small pencil sketched faces of Everyone [Powihida has] Ever Met from Memory (that [Powhida] Can Remember). You might not care to know the guy that his female roommate brought around that he wanted to beat up, but surely some of the characters sketches that accompany his sketches will provide mild amusement. For ponder, Gregory Blackmon visually gives a Complete Musical Review of the Augmented Triad Chords, along with other illustrated lists of boats, planes, six-legged pests, and pit-bulls.
Several other mental feats, among others, positioned for view are the works of Mark Fox who kept lists of popular cereals and t.v. lineups and attempted to draw, cut and 3-D collage everything that he ever owned. Wisconsin native George Widener devised and meticulously illustrated a method of picking out dates falling on Friday, on which interesting things will happen. A host of additional mind-boggling Widener works address infamous dates in history, all oriented around numbers and thoughts chronicled in tiny penmanship covering every corner of the paper.
The John Michael Kohler Art Center (608 New York Avenue, Sheboygan) is not to be confused with the Kohler Design Center (the toilet museum). However, the Kohler folks made sure the bathrooms at JMKAC were pretty impressive too.
Significant, road construction prevents access to the JMKAC from 6th Street. Gain access to New York Ave from the downtown side, on 7th, where you can park complementary for 2 hours, and 25 cents an hour thereafter.
Jazz and classical compositions sung through the theatre space at the Alchemist in Bay View last Friday. Budding impresario and alto saxist Steve Gallam leads a small guild of musicians bent on reverberating their sound throughout Milwaukee, know as Milwaukee Area Artists and Composers (MACA). Original solo composition performances from Nathan Dill on violin, Mike Neumeyer on piano and Blake Manning on tenor sax messaged harmonies for the audience’s auditory pleasure. Ensemble performances featured the soloists, accompanied by Paul Westfahl on drums, presenting variations on Gallam’s original composition Ellen St. Theme . The Smiler Grogan Case added original pieces to the set, played by tenor saxist Austin Byrd, bassist Brad Karas, and Westfahl.
MACA also provides an outlet for artists with designs craving wall space. Work from local artist Jason Ludtke hung from The Alchemist’s gallery space. Visual artistry from Nic Buchel, Enrique Catalado, Nichole Doty, and Jeremy Dunn cameoed, not to be upstaged by special guest Ossacip P.
The MACA event filled a niche for The Alchemist Theatre’s Project Empty Space, an open call for performance and performance-related ideas. If agreeable to proprietors Aaron Koepec and Erica Case, two of Milwaukee’s most talented and bright young entrepreneurs, The Alchemist will host your project. Upcoming Project Empty Space events are an acting workshop moderated by Grace DeWolf on June 19 and a Bayview Treasure Hunt on July 17.
The Alchemist Theatre’s current production Fool for Love, written by Sam Shepard, runs from June 3rd to June 18th.
With significant inspiration present, growing an idea requires little space. Mark David Gray curator and resident artist of splashing new Studio 420b whips up his creative gumbo with this recipe. Born of a workspace less than 300 square feet, the gallery’s loosely carved and ample surface area now allows for nooks amenable to his artistic companions.
The raw and utilitarian stance of Studio 420b suits the theme of its current installation New Work. Adding intrigue to the theme, concrete floors hoist a sign proclaiming “All Hail Marx and Lennon” scribed in sharp-edged block letters emphasized with a profile portrait of the late John Lennon designed in pastels. It happens that one of the gallery’s artists is a Marx, Lindsay Marx.
A 50 times removed cousin of those other great Marx, using oil on canvas, Lindsay Marx explains her impressions of moments suspended by photography in the 1960′s. Her paintings adjust our perspective close enough to see the profoundness of mundanely human dramas beckoning attention, drowned out by the turmoil typically associated with the era of social change. Layering color tones, motifs, concepts and patterns, pictures of moments transform into paranormal events revealing unseen forces acting at that moment. Employing the same technique, other works divine the thoughts of the central subject matter. Exquisite, modest and sometimes eerie, Marx evokes all three with appreciated intent; nothing here perceived as weird for weird’s sake.
The World is a Marble
Perforating the main wall space, a series of small geometrically identical frames house intricately drafted illustrations by Sean Bodley. Having even the negative spaces amazingly formulated solely from strokes of a pen, Bodley demonstrates the art of constructing worlds on a fantastic scale. Glancing at craggy cliffs appearing inches tall you may notice minute human forms that, from their point-of-view, immediately and epically magnify everything around them to Grand Teton scale. Admittedly, Bodley relishes the fantasy genre brought mainstream by the Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy. Executing with marksman precision, Bodley charts detailed maps of places existing somewhere between Milwaukee that place Atreyu tried to save, and River Styx. Expressing interest in the fantasy genre’s friendliest format, one of Bodley’s artistic channels transmits his current work in an illustrated novel entitled Guardians of Gaia.
Too busy settling the West or snatching what they could by guile or force, turn of the century rugged individuals had little time for art, unless they were making “Wanted” posters. Mark David Gray pays tribute to the period of settlement and gunslingers with several of his pieces currently covering Studio 420b walls. Ruddy sepia tones infuse age and subdued neon highlights kick pop appeal into visual renderings that pluck Teddy Roosevelt out of historical archives and place him into new contemporary interpretations. Bigger than the dimensions of the canvas that carries them, several of Gray’s precise works idolize the former President in an endearing but kindly mocking fashion. Others works more straight forward, do plain old justice to the man and the legend. Lacking remissness, Gray offers additional odes to other men or legends fitting the phonetic description “Marx” or “Lennon” for further ponder.
Treading a rare path, Gray’s serious demeanor betrays his engaging and open mind and manner; a mastermind behind a space that is truly hospitable to creativity. Milwaukee is fast going the way of “scenes”, yet here people come as they are, and work as they are. Through its atmosphere, Studio 420b takes the bit out of the mouth of being an artist. In the process, truly phenomenal art ferments.
Always enjoyable Gallery Night yielded a few notables during the winter 2011 edition. Originally posted to the Sane Artworks Blog January 26, 2011.
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Gallery Night Milwaukee: Green Gallery, Patricia Terry, Berkeley and other splashes
The winter edition of Gallery Night in Milwaukee took place Friday and Saturday this past weekend. I took the A.V. Club’s lead on a couple of art exploits seen on Friday night, but ended up off the trod path and left one destination on my to do list.
The Green Gallery is somewhere I’ve wanted to check out for a while. I heard of this space a couple of years ago, recognizing the name of creative mind Michelle Grabner in a promotional piece for the Green Gallery’s second installation Silverpoint Drawings with Guest Mobile. Keeping with Milwaukee’s good fortune, several classes of privileged but angsty local teenagers (myself included, more angsty than privileged), among others I’m sure, felt edified by her instruction and her work.
A Person of Color: a mostly orange exhibition is currently on display at the Green Gallery. It features a host of artists, mostly spry, hip, and trained with their works of mixed mediums staking out floor space and wall art hung low to make you exert some effort to take a gander. Aggressively, which I guess reflects the color swatches of orange employed here, several of the current pieces take deliberate stabs at your intelligence in overtly self-indulgent to fast approaching borderline cliché ways (making it quite possible that cliché is the new cool this spring).
At Cuvee Black Art made a seldom witnessed mainstream appearance in Milwaukee, expressed through several collages, paintings, and illustrations authored by Evelyn Patricia Terry, a founder of Milwaukee’s art presence. Best known for her paintings and printmaking, Terry’s Gallery Night work included a series of illustrations carrying wisdom laden captions. Words offered ranged from the philosophical “Opposites attract, but likes stay together” to the practical “I have much work to do”. The didactic intent of the Black Arts legacy resonated the gathering.
Art showed up in musical form at Bayview’s Sugar Maple, as the cooperative Milwaukee Area Composers and Artists (MAC&A) filled the sound stage with a couple Master’s thesis jazz compositions, featuring brass favorites tenor and baritone saxophone, trumpet, and lesser seen instrument the marimba. Instigated by local musician Steve Gallam, the set featured work by composition peers Blake Manning, and Mike Neumeyer. Ears out for these guys. Their scoring of original works with pen on parchment tinted paper and impromptu is well done; neither often shared with the public in an informal setting, both suitably hosted by Sugar Maple’s indy jazz inspired confines.
Speaking of jazz, a free benefit (donations accepted) for the legendary Berkeley Fudge will take place at 7:30p this Friday January 28, 2011, at The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Berkeley recently suffered a health setback and the arts community is doing their part to recognize his contributions to the Milwaukee scene. Berkeley resident musician at the Jazz Estate, he was on the bill in the summer 2009 and I missed him unfortunately.
I missed out on Studio 420b exhibitions that featured artists Leslie Peckham, Lindsey Marx, Steven Ruiz, Fred Kames and several others. Judging from previous work, this camp of artist should also be added to your watch list.
Gallery Night in Milwaukee comes around again with spring this time, April 15 and 16th 2011.
February’s installment of MAM After Dark kept it fun and snooty, truly befitting of the Calatrava. Although the recently opened Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition fills the main gallery space, providing the draw of a registered trademarked name, New York artist Chakaia Booker concluded her MAM co-starring role. The MAM atmosphere, ambient with disc jockeyed music courtesy of Radio Milwaukee, supported the closing of On Site: Chakaia Booker in the Baumgartner Galleria (back hallway leading to the War Memorial).
Booker’s sculptures, forged of tightly wrapped, sharply cut automobile tires and industrial screws, and some other secret bonding agents no doubt, evoked curiosity and anxiety in Quadracci Pavillion patrons. Fourteen unsung weeks on display, the unsettling creations of On Site stood poised on the floor, and perched on the walls presumably ready to strike at any moment.
It was not really an option to stand with your arms folded, gawking. Option one: karate stance with hands prone in an action grip. Option two: impulsively grabbing at the twining appendages. Option two tested, and a nipping from a security guard occurred from 18 feet.
There is not much one can do with old tires. No, I recant. You can contort them beyond recognition, and actually make people want to look at them. Conservation art with found industrial objects is a fine tradition indeed. On Site closed February 13, 2011.