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Posts tagged “art exhibition

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.

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Fine Line, BVGN, Hide House, Nick Ludwig

NickLudwig

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.


Portrait Society, Niki Johnson, Eggs Benedict

Benedict

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.

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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.


The Marshall Building, Gallery Night Spring 2013

Mashall Building

Rains drenched the week leading up to this spring’s Gallery Night in Milwaukee and a tornado warning. No worries there are plenty of great place to get stuck in the Third Ward tonight. Cohesion, would be the word that best describes what the Third Ward has achieved in the arts and entertainment lobe of its identity. A permanent scene has undoubtedly formed there to support the City’s high-end fine artists, its cornerstone sits on the intersection of Water and Buffalo Street at the Marshall Building.

Once an informal stash of professional artists and collectors, the building now supports an evolved and varied ecosystem of art and design disciplines.  Some are highly recognizable like Reginald Baylor/Plaid Tuba and the Portrait Society. Others like Katie Gingrass are synonymous with fine art galleries in Milwaukee. All of the residents of the Marshall Building deserve notoriety.

Look Who’s Looking

Spring Gallery Night 2013 at the Marshall Building will feature 26 studios and galleries spread about all 7 levels of the building, making it very nearly an informal Contemporary Art museum. One highly anticipated show in particular at the Portrait Society Gallery will feature Nikki Johnson’s Eggs Benedict, a pixelated portrait of Emeritus Pope Benedict made entirely of colored condoms.

Another effort to look forward to comes from recent resident Marlene Hecht Simmons who lower level gallery features her own original paintings ranging in style from pop to portrait to folk. Phil Saxon’s work is also displayed there, a mixed media set that distilled something potentially neo-movement-like.

Timothy Meyerring
appears to have quite an experience formulating in his first floor space Timo Gallery. If you don’t like his paintings which is really hard to do, there should be a little revelry to go with them to keep you engaged too.

From the Bottom Up

Gallery Night Spring 2013 kicks off tonight April 19, 2013. Most galleries are also open April 20 as well. Here are the who’s and where’s:

Lower Level
Milwaukee Potters Guild
Safi Studios
San Remy
Marlene Hecht Simmons

First Floor
Grava Gallery
Elaine Erickson Gallery
Grotta & Co.
Timo Gallery
Cranston
Katie Gingrass

Second Floor
Art Upstairs
Blustein Brondino Gallery
Ellen Reynolds
Gallery 218
Grey Matter
Sadler Gallery
The Fine Art Gallery

Third Floor
J. Nikolai Art
Red Narwahl
Too Much Metal

Forth Floor
Christine Plamann Photography
C. Harbeck Object Conservation

Fifth Floor
CR Davidson Art
Helga Robinson
Portrait Society Gallery

Six Floor
Reginald Baylor
Plaid Tuba


Coalition of Photographic Arts, Gallery Night Spring 2013

CoPA

In a wily move, the Coalition of Photographic Arts (CoPA) took over a traditional second floor office suite on upper Mason Street and turned it into a a multi-room gallery space for their 8th Annual Member’s Exhibition. CoPA, a contemporary photography guild, showcases and supports fine photographic arts of all styles.

IMG_0530

CoPA member Kelly Crandall expressed that CoPA exists to support the photographer community in the Milwaukee area, and although a membership organization, it is open to amateur and professional photographers. Crandall’s work for CoPA’s current exhibition focuses on landscape and street photography, much of her subject matter being people and architecture. With no less than 50 individual pieces on display from a couple dozen CoPA members, the photographic styles demonstrated encapsulate a wide variety of applications of the medium.

In this exhibition, classic portrait, landscape, and nature photographs accompany technologically driven examples of perspective, enhanced and digitally altered photography. Some less conventional styles like photographic canvas wraps can also be witnessed at the current CoPA exhibition. This will be truly one of the most diverse photography exhibitions around town.

CoPA’s Gallery Night opening is tomorrow night from 4p – 9p Friday, April 19 and Gallery Day 11a – 4p, April 20 on the 2nd floor of 600 East Mason St. The 8th Annual CoPA Member’s Exhibition will continue Thursdays through Saturdays 12p – 6p from April 24 – May 3, 2013.