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

Visual Arts

Alternate Resolution, Hide House, Philip Atilano

  
Painted canvases quietly commanded a foyer wall in what used to be a tannery docking bay, now the entry way of Hide House Building 9.

  
Philip Atilano, stands at a table solo across from the works. There are not many people at the Hide House edition of Bay View Gallery Night, at least not in Building 9 anymore.

  
A muralist and exhibit designer by trade, Atilano admits that painting in this format is a relatively new foray. A metal putty knife scoops and spreads florescent and pastel acyrlic into place. It sticks in angular patches, guided by line. In other works, splashes of contrasting colors highlight and make knowN their abstract intentions.

Munching dramatically, these works keep you looking. Philip Atilano measure his aesthetic with specific gravity.


In the Realm of Innocents: An Exhibition of Mysticism and Lore, Walker’s Point Center for the Arts

A Guest Contributor Review by Helene Fischman

The artists in the current exhibit at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts approach mythological/ethereal/religious themes with both irony and sentimentality hidden in their works. “In the Realm of Innocents” takes us on a heterotopian journey through fairytale iconography. Each artist musters distinct painting techniques and passions one might expect only from an occult fanatic. While all the artists are worthy of mention, I will highlight two which lingered in my thoughts long after I left the building – Gina Litherland and Andrea Guzzeta.

Nether in Ether

Gina Litherland’s paintings are slick and elegant, your eyes slide across their smooth varnished surface. She captures moments, stopping the clock at pivotal watersheds as though she tore out an illustrated Gothic fantasy from her imagination. Litherland’s ornate and detailed strokes, hold a touch of Byzantine human awkwardness. Like Guido of Siena’s Enthroned Madonna, her two-dimensional beings struggle to fill out their three-dimensional destinies, perhaps only a day dream separates them. She creates tension in her piece with tight over-rendered brush strokes. Her persistent technique lays conspicuously visible as though she’s wrapping paint around the limbs of her subjects; their skin encasing them, a restrictive contraption attempting with futility to confine their energy.

Tea Leaf Reading exalts physical characteristics, her chosen archetype: thin and pale-complected. She poses two elegant, lean bodies next to one another. One woman looks over the other’s shoulder, both peeking into an oracular teacup.The posture of the primary figure appears physically strained, neck and wrist bent past human comfort, creating unease for an empathic viewer – I could feel my shoulders tense up when following that impossible curve with my eyes. Yet, behind the women, the air looks chemically fluid. It seems ready to spill and mix the background colors into an active wallpaper, a canvas for a bird in flight. Litherland’s visual composition reads as an extemporaneous chromatic explosion, betraying the painting’s initial stillness.

The perceptible intimacy shared between the women subjects of Tea Leaf Reading remains covert. In a cooperative gaze, they focus on the porcelain tea cup’s scattered leaf pattern, indicating their future. Their relationship seems intentional yet ambiguous. They have a strong likeness. Could they be sisters, perhaps mother and daughter?

My third thought is death. Their gaunt complexions can’t be separated from the possibility of an afterlife, or after-death. Are witnessing a doppelganger? They are, after all, doused in a bluish-purple haze which could serve as an allusion to post-mortem existence; the sighting of her twin, the doppelganger, possibly an omen of death? Perhaps we are seeing a woman foretelling her own demise. A goat accompanies the women, and a bird symbolizes a sacred unknown like a tarot card. The goat perhaps represents new beginnings, the bird… intuition?

In Litherland’s uncanny atmospheres, you are drawn into the environment in a true, haptic sense.  Her world begets authenticity, she lures you to suspend your disbelief – really go there – and then find yourself thrust back into your own life pondering the space between free-will and fantasy.

Bound in Angles

Andrea Guzzetta’s paintings send dizzying geometrical visual rhythms wrapped in a kaleidoscope of hues through your pupils. She works in allegory as though her canvas, beneath its top layer of gesso, hides a worn palimpsest scratched with medieval tales of life and death.

In Blood Nectar, a square-based angular pattern transforms into a swirling spirograph set in a palette of hot pink and bright teal. Paired flowers and skulls weave in an unlikely harmony. The eye cannot help but follow, in allegro. The highly saturated colors of the piece overstimulate.

Guzetta captures you, and tosses you into a cavernous hole at the center of Blood Nectar. She paints an porthole entryway, dotted with butterflies and surrounded by clouds, suggesting a threshold into another universe beyond the canvas. She paints with confidence that entices you to jump in and breathe her fluorescent air.

Her choices make pairs of object and color. Pink skulls, initially shock the viewer and seem dialectically opposed. Catching my breath, I found these concerns resolved in a new visual language, a neon lexicon. Guzzetta convinces you there is a beyond, and tasks you to envision the extension of this deceptively colorful world beyond the canvas edge.

Generally, her aggressive and well-executed surrealist drawing style creates a framework for the imagination, a launch-pad for curiosity, a yearning for the potential of things.  Gravity is turned on its head as the viewer is pulled outwards, perhaps upwards, into an unknown plane. Through this play on physics she insists we revisit old stand-by definitions. We can no longer rely on the tried and true. In a mixture of color which calls up memories of birthday cake frosting and little girls ribbons, rendering imagery of both bones and blossoms, her quandary between life and death lifts its head and roars a mighty roar.

In the Realm of Innocents: An Exhibition of Mysticism and Lore (curated by Michael Flanagan and Kimberly Storage) is on display at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 839 South 5th Street Milwaukee, WI 53204, from January 30 – March 7, 2015. Other notable artists contributing to this exhibition are Jean Roberts Guequierre, Claire Stigliani, Kristen Ferrell, and Linnea Bergstrom.  For more information on the author of this article, visit: www.helenefischman.com.


One last thing 2013, The Skrauss, Subito Statua

SubitoStatua

Passers-by on the Riverwalk crossing at Wells Street, squint their gaze at the brownish human figure standing at ease, with arms bent at both elbows to let the most famous thumbs in history point to the sky. Everything’s Hey, OK.

For statues with notorious local reputations, the Bronze Fonze stands next to only the random Michael Jackson idol that was stuck in mid-pelvis thrust out side of Fulham FC’s stadium at Craven Cottage, London. Let’s face it, Fonze in the Happy Days… butter, today the Bronzie attracts its share of ridicule.

On one seemingly normal overcast morning, lurking an uncomfortable distance from the Fronze, another statue suddenly appeared. A seven-foot gangly clay figure glowered over the Fonze, disproportionately large hands’ pleading palms inward facing to its chest. It wore a blue suit. It stood on massive black booted feet. Someone had taken the ante up a notch higher than ever before.

Apparently, as the day went on people started to notice; as public art projects tend to be a hot button topic in this town. Having one appear in such a prominent location, with no public hearing, must have raised someone’s eyebrows.

A day later, Jim Stingl, known for scrounging up a scoop to post on JSOnline, sent out a plea on NewsWatch to get a bead on the goings on. Amazingly that yielded results in less than 24-hours.


via The Skrauss Speaks, You Listen on YouTube

Turns out a local artist The Skrauss, a recent MFA of UW-Milwaukee and long-time illustrator, has unmistakeable work. Jim Stingl somehow got a hold of Skrauss and pulled a few strained responses from him. A mysterious statue on the Riverwalk, makes a physical metaphor for random acts of love and outburst.

I suppose with a sketchy box van and 10-foot statue, pop-up public art is possible. The Skrauss has art that hangs on walls too, and sometimes cameos in indie films like The Wheel.

Related Posts
Sheer Groovy Outrage, The Skrauss, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1cv
Ascension into the Fiction, The Skrauss, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1wH

SubitoStatuaImg
The Skrauss (c) 2013


One last thing 2013, R.I.P Art vs. Craft

RIPArtvCraft

Milwaukee blew living colors all year in 2013, with our fine city earning a couple of major national honors including a somewhat dubious “Brainiest City” from The Atlantic, and most notably a spot on ArtPlace America’s top art places 2013 list. On this list, Milwaukee bumped elbows with Brooklyn and Manhattan, NY, Seattle, Portland, Dallas, LA, Philadelphia, and San Francisco and few other name brand cities. The recognition specifically gold-starred the Third Ward for its civic centrality, a harbor of the fine arts.

While most Milwaukeeans appreciate the Third Ward for what it represents, it only gives a taste of Milwaukee’s arts culture. The Milwaukee art-scape evolved pockets, hideouts, scenes, lone rangers, academies and even congregations as the twentieth century turned. In 2013, Milwaukee lost the matriarch of them all, Art vs. Craft.

Comet Tails

Though preceded by several notable others including Morning Glory Art Festival and Community Arts Festival (both held annually at the Marcus Center), and Lake Front Festival of the Arts, Art vs. Craft changed everything.

Art vs. Craft took the mainstream fine art culture, spritzed afternoons with your parents sharing blush wine and munching pretzels, and distilled it into an around the clock ordeal of melding kinesthetics and aesthetics during everyday life; a way of life. For those pumping their time, energy and life force into mastering age old craft skills into making things, Art vs. Craft became the annual venue to unveil them to peers and Milwaukee’s neat-thing enthusiasts.

Art vs. Craft founder Faythe Levine must be credited as one of the foremost creative minds Milwaukee has every seen, welding her creativity, ethics, and force of will together to essentially found a niche industry, still maintaining her integrity at all turns. In 2008, collaborating with Courtney Heimerl, Levine released the documentary Hand Made Nation, giving a more global view of the phenomenon taking place in Milwaukee. It was screened around the world, to international acclaim.

Veering to a more specific path of craft professions, Levine and Sam Macon released Sign Painters in early 2013, currently winding down a world tour, capping another immense undertaking.

Leaving the Nest

ArtvCraft

Art vs. Craft’s final event was hosted by the Harley-Davidson Museum on November 30, 2013. Although a juried craft fair, Art vs. Craft 2013 took up two full exhibition spaces at the HD Museum. Patrons gathered with Printmakers, collage artists, jewelry makers, toy makers, book binders, ceramic dish makers and many others with obscure craft proficiencies, to toast the closing of Levine’s seminal project.

As I browsed that day, obliviously staring over at one of the booths while walking, I almost ran full into someone. Sort of giving way noticing at the last second, I realized in an awe-struck moment that it was Faythe. We ended up just brushing arms. Dammit should have been paying attention, we could’ve met!

Art vs. Craft is survived by venues WMSE’s Buy Local Bazaar, Hovercraft, and Made in Milwaukee, and likely has many budding offspring.

20140105-171558.jpg


‘Tis Gift Season, Last Minute Shop Local

TisGiftSeason2013

The holiday gift buying crunch time has arrived with well timed seasonal snow and ice, but don’t let that stop you. If you haven’t wrapped all your gifts yet, there are some great local shopping options worthy of a browse. One of a kind clothing, accessories, and art make great gifts, lets face it everyone likes custom.

This weekend shops are popping up and store front proprietors will have their doors to greet you. If you prefer online, most of these local options can accommodate e-commerce as well.

Last Minute Shopping List Part 1

Zen Dragonfly, Last Ditch Effort, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1Mk
Handmade clothing and accessories by fashion house Zen Dragonfly, and hosting mini-craft fair Last Ditch Effort in Sherman Park Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 12p.

Madam Chino’s Look Nook, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1Mi
Madam Chino fashion house feature vintage and handmade fashion and accessories, pop up shop is open Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 12p.

Roots Underground Outfitters, Nice Gear, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1Mm
Urban fashion retailer Roots has custom fashion designs and independent brands from across the nation, their store is open regular business hours in Washington Heights.

Milrawkee Alt, Bubbler Studios, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1Mo
Prepare for fun, Milrawkee Alt has original Milwaukee themed art and gifts of all types, perfect for the MKE junky with a love for funky stuff to put on their walls, located in Bay View’s Hide House.