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.
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.
The Skrauss (c) 2013
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.
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
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.
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.