An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere

Archive for April, 2012

Sheer Groovy Outrage, The Skrauss

I could be really ticked at myself for missing The Skrauss’ gallery installation last fall or his Master’s thesis project this past winter; or I could be beside myself for not getting in line four hours early to catch Skrauss’ big screen debut in the Milwaukee Film Fest short The Wheel, or I could just be happy The Skrauss self-publishes a video blog now.

With MFA nearly under his belt (or pillow) Skrauss lately indulges himself mastering other gifts besides his obvious talents in painting and illustration. A hearty appetite for spoken prose and an unearthed alacrity for video production makes Skrauss an unlikely multi-media super hero on a plane with The Tick.

I got a chance to share a choice exchange with Skrauss, a few verses of quilled mental banter.

LS Trolley: So you’ve just got done selling out, with your big bad MFA, if you haven’t repressed it all already tell me about your work you’ve just completed… Time told with actions, a pity when words conjure, just a sound can provoke the wits of the ages, in envy do we begin again, do we find our way again?

The Skrauss: I am your master as of December and only later will master, in November, Fine art. Remember this footnote: I burn midnight’s embers toil for the F in the above designation. Then without hesitation I’ll move through Tomorrow’s history and obliterate the Art World. You’ll see, here in Milwaukee headlines read: “The Skräuss Decimates Modulation, Mighty-and_High Mediation. Unchains imagination. Adulation!”

Self-production: the new sustenance…

via The Skrauss Speaks, You Listen, Youtube

LST: The floor approaches my feet with ease, I stop so my fingers can curse the cursor, I will not point, worth your bid?

The Skrauss: I make it your bidzniz, my bids. They this: I snap my fingers, I prime the pump, I squirt some Lysol on my tongue. My life jumps not lingers. It leaps from the box, unsprung and breaking hinges.

LST: With freedom the mind wanders, how is it best served?

The Skrauss: Work out your freedom with fear and trembling. Take the fork in the road, make an absurd turn. Deny the mind mumbling, spiritus Mundi, the Cistern Chapel and
and her resigned grumbling.

LST: What else have you been up to, what’s next, lets just define art while we are at it. Feel free to drift off into some poetics. Tell me about your dabbling with the power of words and video images, as much as you have with traditional visual art mediums and technique… sort of in line with what seems to be distilling from your video blog…

The Skrauss: I’ve moved from comics to paintings to sculpture to video. I’m utterly time-based. A cartoonist hastening through the democratic matrix; that you call youtube and all of its individual moments beautiful and hideo. Next up, a schematic for the “Milwaukee2 Epic Cycle.” An info graphic, a map.

Formerly words did all the work cultivating culture, codifying our clamoring, the noise of civilization’s hammering. Then America mixed, from engraving’s catalyst, words and pictures creating comic’s first scriptures. I contradict high-brow strictures.

LST: Typical artist, can’t decide what talent to batter people with next… That’s good news, I wasn’t sure Milwaukee was even going to make ‘epic’ status before people stopped using that term… tell me why I’m going to the like this ‘Milwaukee2 Epic Cycle’ or did you just make that up? Growing in the time between now and when, places when just out of reach enough to keep exerting… exhorting…

The Skrauss: Milwaukee’s been epic since the first cataleptic foot down in the root, but we’re all separate, suff’ring like puffer fish, with our minds in the box, blinds drawn, buffering. The Milwaukee2 Epic Cycle, unicycle, 9 reels of treacle dubbed by Hitchcock, with Ed Wood on ballaleika. It’s a pocket full of rockets, a gun at a bottle fight, a nun rolling down a hill at night going, “Grey, grey, grey, spectrum!”

The M2 EC squared, cubed, hypercubed, I declare, it’s a package of delights a fountain of fireworks gurgling out your nightlight. A novel told out of order in the least efficient form or media possible. It’s inaccessible. It’s painting, comics, poetry, films. It’s all my whims, lassoed, hog-tied. Scarier than Grimm, I’m coming from mythology just like Icarus, just like a satirist. I’m a Chestertonian paradox. Milwaukee2 stuffs the ballot box, but rolls a harmonium.

LST: Hit me again…

The Skrauss: …Ectoplasmic retorting! Bend the rules of blues and create the sound of the screws in the clockwork. Accept it all, no matter how lame, cheesy, hackneyed, or corny. God is in the strings. Why not show them? We’re not rabbits in hats, we’re the kings, we go anywhere. One step. One step at a time…

The Skrauss recently smashed a couple of Milwaukee art venues over Spring Gallery Night, UWM’s Peck School of the Arts Annual Kenilworth Open Studios and outlet in development Orcanine Abbey.

If you’re in the mood for some disorienting audio/visual stimulation check-out Skrauss’s video blog The Skrauss Speaks, You Listen, which is pretty much poised to put Hulu Plus out of business. In print, Skrauss dabbles in poetry and other artistic and not so artistic muses on Phooey Gun Fight. In the mean time, let Skrauss demystify one of Milwaukee’s favorite holidays for you.

Do you know who you’re toasting on St. Patty’s Day?

via The Skrauss Speaks, You Listen, Youtube

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Going Once, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Mason Street storefronts got a new neighbor last September, and that neighbor has a little moxie too. Just a door down from the Delind Gallery of Fine Art, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers stage vintage, couture and fine art for auction.

Prepping for the Summer auction season, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers hosted an opening reception last Saturday and has several previews, of contemporary art and prints that will also on be on the block, planned for the coming week. Hindman’s auction stock includes work of contemporary giants Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, and some niche tastes with local ties that spotlight Francesco Spicuzza and work brushed by members of the Sister’s of St. Francis Assisi.

Controlled breathing may suite you well when entering the show room. Fragile and finely crafted furniture and housewares sit gingerly, made from precious and semi-precious metals, glass and porcelain. The array of rare items available through Leslie Hindman’s inventory even span ornately bound volumes of reference books and original manuscripts, and couture fashion (yes, original Christian Dior among the seams)

Although most of Leslie Hindman’s items price rather thick for the blood of common stock, many highly cherishable pieces fall well within the reach of a budding collector. Discerning taste catches quickly. As much about art as aesthetic, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ eye’s for design and decor prove contagious even for those who’s heels are a little worn, but have noses formed well enough to look down. Starring maybe be rude, but looking can create a quick and interesting stop on a leisurely early and stylish evening out in Eastown.

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers are based in Chicago, with Milwaukee as one of only four other offices in the United States. Previews of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers old, master, and contemporary art section, of the auction opening April 29th, commence April 25 and end May 1. Here’s what the full Spring and Summer auction schedule has in store.


Life of a Dive, Lo Cash Live

It hangs out on a block best known for the grizzly working-class pub Steny’s, smushed-up next to Fat Daddy’s. Making use of the sign design made famous by Southern used car lots, coin-sized dots spell “Lo Cash”,  shimmering flecks of silvery sunlight off the side of the building.

The interior decor although not brand-spanking new has yet accumulated the drinking hours to adequately absorb the savory juices that amply flow from the kitchen, a dive in the making. A neon sign couldn’t even bring it attention. Lo Cash Live keeps the low-key atmosphere of the 5th Ward strip, still adding flavor to recipe. Lo Cash Live is a Barbecue Joint, South by Mid-West.

The Fare

I sit down at a table near the wall with my dinner mate. Swinging into the tall seat I nod at Al Jarreau, who poses behind the glass of the frame that holds an old promo portrait. Other crooning singers from various eras and genres nudge corners with him. I’m hard on BBQ so I’m ready for disappointment. Nothing beats the backyard and down-home secrets that make it atop the briquette heated grill.

Lo Cash’s menu makes the right first impression, short, easy to read and to-the-point. Each main dish of either BBQ pork, chicken or brisket and comes with a side, picking from sweet corn, slaw, baked beans or macaroni and cheese (with is technically a vegetable south of the Mason-Dixon). Sandwiches of the same fill also for your fancy. The house adds variety with a fried shrimp po’ boy and a Wisconsin inspired option called Three Little Piggies: a brat patty with pulled pork and bacon, ‘tween a bun. Not one of the meals or sandwiches cost more than ten bucks.

Packing it In

I hone in the brisket meal, it’s even tough to cook-up outdoors. In fifteen minutes a sawed-off tin water pale comes out lined with red and white checked wax paper, table cloth inspired. On top of it, steaming slices of tender beef brisket lay naked, with a perfect amount of edge fat, and covered in vinegary BBQ sauce. The fork goes in, the brisket disappears, mighty delicious on a cool spring evening.

One added note, this 5th Ward diner will soon have the distinction of filling the void left by the closing of Sil’s Mini-Donuts on North Avenue. An appetizer called Corn Fritters comes out looking like a basket of traditional hushpuppies, however, sugared and thoroughly fried, the cornmeal balls come with a tub of molten butter sauce for dip. Goodness!

For Your Listening Pleasure

The food should draw you in and Lo Cash keeps the good times going with cover free live music. I got a fortunate treat hearing a solo set from Annie B who rocks lead for group Annie B and Vagabond Company. They actually just jammed the pre-game show with Icarus Down for the Bucks game Monday night.

Of hard Americana cast and heart made, sometimes mellow vocals belt from Annie B’s lips in front of her acoustic guitar on her two recorded albums Fancies of a Random Heart and a solo project The Kiwi Cafe, sounds well suited for live performance.

Lo Cash Live is located on 2nd and National and open serving great food and music daily.


Leather Bound, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Othello

Before the show, the house received preface that the cast had not run a full dress rehearsal of the second act. Ut oh… The action that ensued on stage warranted the hedge, however unneeded. Delving into the original play on race, The Rep’s Creative Director Mark Clements continues his reputation for fearless confrontation of theater’s most difficult subject matter with a singeing rendition of Shakespeare’s Othello. Clements leaves little doubt that he has done his part to keep The Rep’s seats warm.

No Commentary

Whether viewed as a mirror or as reinforcement of prevailing sentiments on human social order in a western context, take it for what you will. Irrevocably, Othello transforms the Rep’s Resident Actors into rugged and utterly unrecognizable players mastering the stage, with guest actor Lindsay Smiling leading the way. All opportunity for liberties taken, aside from the script, Clements’ production of Othello runs whole hog for three hours tonging the audience’s ear with Shakespeare’s knack for intrigue and all things rhetorical, while shaking them with imaginative set design, special effects, and attention charming costumes, choreography and props.

Reactive Elements

Reaching the top early and often, although couple characters teeter over at times where subtly might have dutifully taken the place of contemporary comedic influences, the players deliver an entertaining performance while clearly having fun in their craft. Familiar faces cloak themselves in ample stage method and a few faces make new memories out of their scenes.

By intermission, although it didn’t register when referencing his previous roles, thriving beneath the veneer of Cassio (the venerable and unlikely pawn in Iago’s treachery) I finally notice Reese Madigan in great form, per usual. Lee Ernst duos as Brabantio, vitriol and father to Desdemona, and Montano the Venetian underboss in Cyprus.  Desdemona, played on a pedestal by Mattie Hawkinson, accepts the courtship of the Venetian war hero Othello (Lindsay Smiling), which would have been okay but he’s… well… “the Moor”.

Other Key Ingredients

The wedding of Desdemona and Othello doesn’t just enrage her father but also conjures the ire and envy of Rodrigo (Jonathan Wainwright), Desdemona’s secret admirer. In effort to get to Desdemona, Rodrigo unleashes Iago‘s (Gerard Neugent) socio-pathic predisposition on Othello, which in a course of unfortunate events wreaks havoc on the newly weds and all of the rest Venice, to the consternation of the Duke of Venice played like a true bad-ass by James Pickering.

As hero and foil, Smiling and Neugent charismatically pace the production fluidly and effortlessly on book, highlighting Shakespeare’s story with intonation and gesture; Smiling accepting his curtain call almost too humbly.

For the Less Patient

Don’t care for a bunch of fancy unintelligible iambic pentameter, Clements has you covered there too. His production crew built an extremely stimulating visual experience that encompasses everything you might imagine in a motorcycle club themed Shakespeare production, oh I guess I didn’t mention that part. Tooling up of for their summer exhibition Worn to Be Wild at the Harley-Davidson Museum, Harley-Davidson pitched in for some cool surprises pumping adrenaline fueled modernity into the production. Iron, leather, fire and skin provide a little garnish.

Othello’s cast of bandits includes seasoned actors Micheal Kroeker (Lodovicio) and Deborah Staples (Emilia), rising stars Melissa Graves (Bianca) and Alexander Pawlowski IV (Herald) and the Repertory Ensemble N’tasha Anders, Eva Balistrieri, Tyler Burnet, Cody Craven, Nathaniel French, John Jernigan, Eric Lynch, Thomas Novak, Elizabeth Telford, and Jenna Vik.

Othello chops the stage until May 6th opening Friday, April 6th at 8p, running daily except Tuesday with weekday and weekend matinees.


Political Reason, New Blood, Stamper II, Buckner

It’s election day for Milwaukee Alders, County Supervisors and other government offices, plus there’s a primary for the Republican candidate for the political office, terribly acronym-ed POTUS. Although I’m not and don’t care to be a source for political commentary, two candidates for Milwaukee County Supervisor today are worth noting both for their youth and potential to transform Milwaukee’s political landscape.

Sherman Renaissance

In the 5th District County Supervisor race, governing Sherman Park and parts of Washington Park, Russell Stamper II vies for Lee Holloway’s former seat. The Coggs’ aren’t the only family with a political legacy (Stamper happens to be running against Priscilla Coggs-Jones), Stamper II is the son of Milwaukee County Judge Russel Stamper Sr. A win for Stamper II would mark a new era for Milwaukee local politics, one in which the generation in Milwaukee that everyone points to as the source of its social problems, will have a leader emerge, taking to the time to work through the challenges of bringing an area with great potential to be a economic hub in Milwaukee to its full potential. Stamper II currently works as a Community Liaison with Social Development Commission.

Growing Industry

The County’s 7th District has a candidate rising out of Milwaukee Public Schools flag ship institution Rufus King to become an alum of Marquette University in Real Estate development. After working as an Assistant Project Manager for Milwaukee’s Scattered Sites III housing development initiative with WHEDA, Jermaine Buckner seeks to lead an oddly shaped County district in Milwaukee’s Northwest Side capturing part of the 35th Street Corridor and Granville Business District. His opponent Michael Mayo has been on the County Board for 18 years and I’ve never heard of him. I’m all for being behind the scenes but that type of visibility may get close to being under the stage.

One interesting thing about Buckner, despite the obvious fact that he has an engaging personality (that was apparent from a segment of a town hall listening session with candidates I saw on MATA over the weekend), it seems that he is aware that there is a cutting edge in economic development that centers on standards and compliance and is well on his way down the path of gaining the expertise and credentials to understand and manage public money, and building the relationships needed to support his agenda.

Election Day in Milwaukee is happening right now in Milwaukee if you haven’t voted already here’s how and here’s how to find your polling place.

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