Stella Cretek

Recent Articles

A Dem Bones Fairytale: The Scribe
A Dem Bones Fairytale

The Scribe

High on a hill in a tower built of bones, the Scribe etches tales on the boulders themselves. Stella offers a creepy tale for your Halloween pleasure.

The Queen who demanded seven inches: A Dem Bones fairy tale
The Queen who demanded seven inches

A Dem Bones fairy tale

It was known that while the ladies of the court collected rubies and pearls, the Queen was given to collecting…sausages.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: Why the Badger bristles
A Dem Bones Fairytale

Why the Badger bristles

Snug in his underground sett, the Badger couldn’t help but notice the rumbling of thousands of boot-clad feet as they shook the ground above his abode...

A Dem Bones Fairytale: A Guy Named Pea
A Dem Bones Fairytale

A Guy Named Pea

I met him online -- "Pea@pickapea.com." Figuring he’d be just right for a Princess like me, I decided to give it a shot.

The Chocolate-Covered Crone: A Dem Bones Fairytale
The Chocolate-Covered Crone

A Dem Bones Fairytale

She dared to peek over the edge of the vat and tumble in. A few gulps and she was coated from head to toe. But beneath the chocolate crust, her heart beat on...

The Saga of Rita Sue LaDeux

The Saga of Rita Sue LaDeux

I alone know who swung that ax. I can see her now … her flaming red hair blowing in the wind.

Slotz on a Stick: The continuing tale
Slotz on a Stick

The continuing tale

Whether or not Tant was ever fingered for copping Slotz -- along with fifty or more innocent citizens --is not a matter of record.

Dem Bones Fairytale: Saga of Slotz Supreme, pt. 1
Dem Bones Fairytale

Saga of Slotz Supreme, pt. 1

Neither apple, orange, peach nor pear; the Slotz somewhat resembled a bowling pin, only smaller. But truth tell, they made The Valley famous.

The Maid and the Straw: a Dem Bones fairytale
The Maid and the Straw

a Dem Bones fairytale

Maybe it wasn’t such a good deal to be inside of Domesville, but it was too late to turn and run.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: The Baker and the Mixer
A Dem Bones Fairytale

The Baker and the Mixer

The truth behind this floury tale may never be known. Except to the Cruller clan, and they’re not talking…

A Dem Bones Fairytale: The water tower
A Dem Bones Fairytale

The water tower

When Lorene leapt into space, few guessed it was her final fling…

A Dem Bones Fairytale: The girl who trod on a meatloaf
A Dem Bones Fairytale

The girl who trod on a meatloaf

Learn from Esmeralda, why don't you. Had you minded your manners and not dishonored the meatloaf, you’d still be up there among the living.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: A date to die for
A Dem Bones Fairytale

A date to die for

Another Saturday night in Nodaway Valley as Doris plans an evening Rod will never forget.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: The prince who despised broccoli
A Dem Bones Fairytale

The prince who despised broccoli

It was known throughout the land that the favorite color of HRH Prince Narcissus Q. VonFabulous was green ... as in a stalk of broccoli. Not that he ate the stuff. It was the color that turned him on.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: Bottoms up
A Dem Bones Fairytale

Bottoms up

Thousands of bare butts turned upward toward the moon. Read on for the truth behind this strange ritual.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: Your feet’s too big
A Dem Bones Fairytale

Your feet’s too big

The Valley's FootLong proved to Stella and others that you've got to use what you don't want to lose.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: Basking in a Batesville
A Dem Bones Fairytale

Basking in a Batesville

A casket isn’t just a casket anymore, or so says Stella in a letter to her cousin Bitsy.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: Farley’s Folly
A Dem Bones Fairytale

Farley’s Folly

Stella chronicles the frolic and fluff that led to one man's demise. Whoopie Pies -- to call them pies is to err.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: Mean Street USA
A Dem Bones Fairytale

Mean Street USA

Stella lets no grass grow under her feet, even amid the aimlessly stoic.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: Body by Ladonna
A Dem Bones Fairytale

Body by Ladonna

Ladonna would miss Billy Mays’ black beard, puffy paunch, and his in-her-face sandpaper voice rasping from the television. In Ladonna’s heart his clean, pure flame would burn forever.

A Dem Bones Fairytale: Stairway to the Stars
A Dem Bones Fairytale

Stairway to the Stars

My name is Molly Dooley. Perhaps you remember my Ma, Polly Dooley, the famed Follies Showgirl, one of a dozen who slept their way to fame and fortune in the '20s. Ma told me she was born in Paris, on the altar of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Of course I have no proof that she was actually born in Paris, and being that there are many cities and towns bearing that name, for all I know, it could have been Paris, Illinois.

A Dem Bones fairytale: Peg O’ My Leg
A Dem Bones fairytale

Peg O’ My Leg

Valley folks assumed she’d been born with one leg (poor Peg! unfortunate child!). She let them go on thinking so, because a birthing accident was way more glamorous than what really happened when she was three and wandered on two sturdy legs straight into the jaws of her Pa’s yellow and green Deluxe #313 John […]

A Dem Bones fairytale: The Reunion
A Dem Bones fairytale

The Reunion

Travelers in the area often report that upon entering Porkopolis, it is impossible to tell “what is and what isn’t.” Goose didn’t know the cause of this peculiar sense of confusion. It was easy to point fingers at the ever-present mists hovering over Nodaway Valley, the failing eyesight and upside down memories of the locals, […]

A Dem Bones fairytale: The Reunion, cont’d
A Dem Bones fairytale

The Reunion, cont’d

As he navigated through the masses of sagging arms and lagging butts and bottle-glass spectacles askew on generic faces assembled for the festivities, Goose felt woozy and disoriented. He was having trouble focusing on folks talking about the house down the road, east a bit, where eight sleeping were felled by an axe. Just across […]

A Dem Bones Fairytale:  The Bluebird of Happiness
A Dem Bones Fairytale

The Bluebird of Happiness

Stella pens the ultimate poison letter to the love of her life. But does she really mean goodbye this time?

Dem Bones: What’s In Your Yard? Part 3: Resting Buns in the Sun
Dem Bones

What’s In Your Yard? Part 3

In part two of “What’s In Your Yard?” I included uber-artist Jeff Koons (who once was a guard at Chicago’s Art Institute) and an image of his much-praised “Balloon Dog.” It costs way more (millions more) than a concrete doggie from a garden center, but is it more fun because it’s bigger and heavily hyped by the powers that guide specific artists to stardom? Is it any secret that Koons has an entire staff just to pump his name?

Dem Bones: What’s In Your Yard?
Dem Bones

What’s In Your Yard?

Anyway, all of this set me wondering: is a modest pink flamingo less or more interesting than one of the gigantic art sculptures visible along N. Lakeshore Drive? You know … the ones that shout “Look! I’m art!” I can envision a gigantic gnome in a conical hat standing near Wisconsin Ave., can’t you? If you go to Burns Park on Prospect Avenue, there is a Beverly Pepper sculpture some claim resembles a giant spade.

Dem Bones: Flamingo Flap
Dem Bones

Flamingo Flap

Stella's been up all night wondering why we can't stop decorating our lawns with weird junk. Flamingos are one thing, but the Virgin Mary in a bathtub?

O Boy: A fairytale of jelly and betrayal
O Boy

A fairytale of jelly and betrayal

My name is Henry O. Lundstrom, and I regret to say I’m spending my last moments on earth upside down in a big batch of dough.

Around Town with Bones: Fluff Me, Stuff Me
Around Town with Bones

Fluff Me, Stuff Me

Stella takes on Whoopie Pies, Fluffernutter sandwiches and urban chickens.

Around town with Bones – 4/22/09

Around town with Bones – 4/22/09

Don't miss it: Michelle Grabner’s show wraps up soon at Green Gallery East. It’s entitled “Black Circle Paintings: Metalpoint Drawings and Monoprints”, and is a collaborative piece twixt Ms.Grabner and spouse Brad Killam.

Around Town With Bones: Gallery Night & Day April 2009
Around Town With Bones

Gallery Night & Day April 2009

There’s no pulling punches when Milwaukee Magazine editor Bruce Murphy writes his weekly “Murphy’s Law” column. A recent one gave a full and lucid explanation about the Janet Zweig saga, i.e., how ideas for that particular public sculpture evolved and where (more or less) the project is going, if anywhere. I laugh when writers “take […]

Around town with Bones – 4/8

Around town with Bones – 4/8

I can’t figure out why any artist in their right mind would complain “there’s nothing new” in Milwaukee. Balls! I just saw two great Peter Barrickman paintings at Green Gallery, plus at GGWest, the most minimalist piece of art I’ve ever seen: a slender slice of wood painted white and propped in a corner of […]

What Would Jesus Say?

What Would Jesus Say?

While we’re on the subject of nudes at MAM, and continuing the idea that picking on “Standing Woman” is sexist, here are a few males to consider:  Torso of a Male Athlete: Marble. Missing head, arms, one leg and part of another. Some of the penis is gone missing too, but not all of it.  Male […]

Around Town With Bones

Around Town With Bones

Milwaukee’s icon, Bob Watt, is 84! And who deserves it more than this Beat poet and painter/sculptor? I mean, it’s an honor to live long enough to be dissed by Pegi Taylor, local art nay-sayer. Jimmy Von Milwaukee hosted a party at his loft (complete with performance art and poetry) for Watt, and down from Manitowoc […]

Pierre Renee

Pierre Renee

Give Me a Break Wake up all you elitists! While you are enjoying a pizza at Riverfront Pizzeria on Erie Street, look around at the photographs and see if you can figure out who “Pierre Renee” is… ask your waitperson about the work on the walls, most of it in the small rooms adjacent to […]

Peepers

Peepers

So get busy already. You have until Sunday, April 5th to do your Marshmallow Peep Show project and take it to the Sugar Maple smoke-free bar at 441 E. Lincoln Avenue in trendy Bay View. No entry fee; no jury, so hurry. Be there from 2-6pm. No self-respecting serious artists need show their faces, but […]

Blarney Stoned

Blarney Stoned

Oh Bridget where be ye? And who be ye? A Sheehan, Moran, Sullivan? Do you really expect me to find your gravesite with such slim pickins? No birth certificate, only the date (1849) you arrived on these shores, bound from Inch Bridge in Ireland, perhaps married (to John Moriarty, laborer), ten years your senior. A […]

The New Mar-Ho?

The New Mar-Ho?

Floor Two in the Marshall Building is getting crowded! Step of the elevator and directly in front of your face is Catherine Davidson’s gallery, and around the corner from that is Gallery 218. Down the hall and to the right is a space Stella hears is going to be the new gallery space for the […]

Stonewalled

Stonewalled

John Riepenhoff of Green Gallery fame, kindly send me a folder of jpeg images for a proposal he and his collaborators submitted for the Lincoln Park space. Here is an exact quote from Mr. Riepenhoff: “Attached is our proposal, they didn’t ask for budget and had limited space for description and slides on the first […]

An Artist’s Statement (How to Write One)

An Artist’s Statement (How to Write One)

I was just a little kid when I picked up my first ever crayola and made a mark on paper. Oh, it was exciting to realize I too could be an artist. In kindergarten I won an award for the best drawing of a single line. My family was very poor and so we had […]

In the Dick of Time

In the Dick of Time

This whole media flap about the ‘Tosa mom who objects to (among other things) MAM’s “Standing Woman” sculpture, weighs in too heavily on the side of tits and ass, i.e. the bodacious breasts and the lusty bottom on the woman standing tall. Odd isn’t it, that no mention has been made of the penises, of […]

Big Decks, Little Decks

Big Decks, Little Decks

You show me yours. I’ll show you mine. Tom Bamberger’s feature article in the February issue of Milwaukee Magazine is posted online via the magazine. Titled “The Peter Principle,” it’s a review of architect Peter Renner’s BreakWater on North Franklin Place. It’s a fair enough article. Renner lost it completely when his office circulated a […]

BreakWater Controversy

BreakWater Controversy

This just in: Milwaukee Magazine has put the full text of The Peter Principle online. It can be found: http://www.milwaukeemagazine.com/currentIssue/full_feature_story.asp?NewMessageID=24464 Dear Dem Bones readers: Here’s Architect Peter Renner’s response to Tom Bamberger’s article (The Peter Principle/Milwaukee Magazine/February 2009). From Milwaukee Magazine, “The Peter Principle,” February 2009: The BreakWater doesn’t have a sense of itself. It’s […]

Worlds Beyond

Worlds Beyond

Fare thee well, friend of those seeking something worth reading. Word came today that you departed earth on January 27. Perhaps the essence of you is speeding toward Mars, of which you wrote so eloquently in the December 2008 issue of National Geographic. In describing the various science fiction writers who wondered about Mars, your […]

The Bad & The Beautiful

The Bad & The Beautiful

The orangey-pinkish jpeg in my prior posting, was sent to me by Jimmy Von Milwaukee. That’s him standing in the background looking guilty. Perhaps. The piñata in the foreground is his take on performance artist Pegi Taylor. The two have been firing rubber bullets at each other recently. Some of them have bounced around on […]

This just in…

This just in…

This just in from Jimmy Von Milwaukee…

Finally.

Finally.

Finally. You can track down susceptibletoimages.wordpress.com/ Kat Murrell, former co-owner (with Deb Brehmer) of the Portrait Gallery, is flying solo, and if her initial outing is any indication, this is the place to go for well-written info on what’s going on in art. Move over Art City and make room for a smartly designed win-win. […]

Gift Ideas for 2009

Gift Ideas for 2009

Stumped about what to get your fave artist in 2009? Some ideas from Stella…. Nutcrackers: Jimmy Von Milwaukee is hardly ever around these days, but in days past, he’s been notable for his crafty events, which sometimes featured his outrageous nutcrackers, to wit, figures resembling former Mayor Norquist, Marilyn What’s-Her-Name, and uh oh, Mother Teresa. […]

Marcus Aurelius Redux

Marcus Aurelius Redux

The first blog I wrote for VS was way back in April of ’08. Titled “Marcus Aurelius Online,” I’ve revived it with new answers to old questions. While ruling Rome, Marcus Aurelius Antonius wrote Meditations, setting down rules for living written in Greek. Stoic to the end (his end came in AD 180), Marcus Aurelius […]

Stella, Old Broad

Stella, Old Broad

I found this image on the AIG website. Posted in the portfolio of former Shepherd Express designer, James Klobier, is a “Portrait of Stella.” I don’t remember wearing pearls, but hey, I’ll take what I can get, old puss and all. Kloiber left for NYC recently to pursue more design opportunities. When first we met, […]

Not Junk

Not Junk

Big Big Bang for Small Small Bucks, well you can’t beat it. Nicholas Frank is one of many artists exhibiting at Dean Jensen Gallery in a show designed to keep art moving when all else seems constipated in today’s art market. December 5th is the be-there date at the Water Street Gallery. Lots of Wisconsin-based […]

Waswo India

Waswo India

Concerned about my former Milwaukee friends, Waswo X. Waswo and his partner Tommy, I emailed them in India to see if they were safe during the terrorist attacks in their adopted country. The two moved there several years ago and we’ve kept in touch. Waswo has shaped an excellent career as a photographer/writer in India, […]

Visual Arts Picks, December 2008

Visual Arts Picks, December 2008

Getting back to nature needn’t mean you’re a tree-hugger determined to save the earth. That said, in this season of ho-ho overkill, perhaps you’re in need of respite in the realm of visual arts. Start with the December 3 lecture (Art, Ecology and Social Change) by New York artist Betsy Damon. Its part of the […]

Roofin’ The Green

Roofin’ The Green

That’s a guy named Dieter in the foreground. His buddies are working on the flat white roof of the soon-to-be Green Gallery East at 15th & Farwell. Missed filmmaker/writer Mark Borchardt’s event at Green West (on Center St.).

MIke Brenner & Hair

MIke Brenner & Hair

This just in from Mike, along with a new-ish jpeg of his pate topped in pink. Yes, he’s still working on his MBA and emails that “The Decider” slot in The Onion will be mostly minimal and mostly previews. It’s hard to imagine him being minimal isn’t it, but certainly not hard to imagine him […]

Jimminy Crickets

Jimminy Crickets

Some things to consider: Walk. Run. Crawl. Cricket Toes is a new local site with a bit of this and a bit of that, fun and interesting, and so far, devoid of mouthy rants. Go to www.emergeartzine.com, a new quarterly (next issue is January 09) mag showcasing artists from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa […]

Breaking News!

Breaking News!

Jimmy Von Milwaukee is, yes he is, hosting his annual Xmas Craft event on December 20th. The site is yet to be announced, but he reveals participants will include the ever-faithful Julie Lindemann & Johny Shimon and perhaps a special showing of Milwaukee’s maker of sculptures fashioned from trash…Mike “Ringo” White. “Ringo was in to […]

Nohl Rap

Nohl Rap

The gender issue surrounding the annual Nohl Fellowships is a dead issue, but if you must beat it to death, you may as well ask how many racial minorities made the cut? Anyone with disabilities? How about old folks like me? Perhaps fewer women than men applied for the fellowships? You’re chasing your tails folks. […]

Stella’s 2008 Awards for Best & Worst Sculpture

Stella’s 2008 Awards for Best & Worst Sculpture

Best: Milwaukee has hunks of stuff that pass for “art,” but the east lobby of the historic Shorecrest Hotel shelters a bronze worth considering. “Fisherboy Dancing the Tarantella” (Francisque Joseph Duret) is allegedly the only true copy of the original 1832 beauty enshrined in the Louvre. With his six-pack abs, earrings and elegant torso defining […]

Hit by an Opgenorth?

Hit by an Opgenorth?

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. An asteroid? No, it’s a piece of art by Harvey Opgenorth. In my office is a hanging light fixture designed by Harvey. Fashioned from an upside down Eames fiberglass chair, it rocks. The light not the chair. So does Harvey. About this sculpture. It will be part of the […]

A Poem As Lovely As A Tree

A Poem As Lovely As A Tree

The economic crash has hit the world big time, and the world of art is no exception. I found quite a bit of comfort at Dean Jensen Gallery where Joan Backes’ work is on display until November 22. Stroll to the back of the long narrow space and stand in front of her video, “Oak […]

Cheese or Pepperoni?

Cheese or Pepperoni?

Just kidding. The former pizza joint on 15th & Farwell (east side of street) will reopen in mid-January ’09, not as another pizza or tattoo parlor, but as Green Gallery East, brought to you steaming hot by gallerist/artist Riepenhoff who knows how to serve up a satisfying slice of art. The debut event will feature […]

Here Pussy, Pussy

Here Pussy, Pussy

Gene Evans made the AV section of the Onion’s August 21-27 edition. You may recall he’s the co-proprietor of Luckystar Studio, formerly of Vliet St. Bridget Griffith Evans, the far nicer and more talented of the two, is moving with her grouchy spouse to a new location on Mitchell St., where they will concentrate on […]

‘Memba This?

‘Memba This?

Possibly the last remaining Art Muscle t-shirt in M’waukee? Born at 9th & National in the days when we had a great big beautiful art publication, this shirt is from “Fruit Of The Loom.” At one time, AM’s shirt inventory included long-sleeved versions. Art Muscle also sold pocket protectors, buttons and coffee mugs, and oh […]

You Say Potato, I Say Potatoe

You Say Potato, I Say Potatoe

A few years ago when Whole Foods sprung up on the west end of North Avenue, their PR person put out a call for local artists. What this usually means when a new business materializes, is that artists are expected to hang their work for free. It’s a kind of art-as-wallpaper concept. Anyway, Mike Brenner […]

Blog Meat

Blog Meat

In continuing an explanation about the meat of blogs, I’ve been re-reading the November issue of the Atlantic, specifically, Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog.” There’s more online at www.theatlantic.com/blogging. The secret seems to be links, Duh. I’ve been clueless. The other big deal clue is “if you don’t paddle, you’re dead in the blog waters.” […]

Artsy

Artsy

www.artsyschmartsy.com Go there, then pick up the forthcoming (soon!) issue of INFO magazine, for a feature about artsy, a chap who wears cheaters and is learning about art. Interviewed by Judith Ann Moriarty in her digs overlooking splendid Milwaukee, Schmartsy reveals himself fully. Let Stella hear if you like it. As I write, susceptibletoimages.com seems […]

Blogging For Naught?

Blogging For Naught?

Maybe I don’t get it, don’t quite understand blogging and the point of it. The November Atlantic has a fine feature (Why I Blog), which explains the author’s take on blogging. I still don’t get it, even though he calls it “writing out loud,” and seems to think it beats regular writing with editors breathing […]

Shameless Shirt-Tailing

Shameless Shirt-Tailing

I’m going to be in Kansas City in December and plan to stroll over to the Kansas City Art Institute to see “Political Persuasion” Street Posters for Barack Obama.” The posters are from the private collection of a professor at the Institute. It’s near the splendid Nelson Gallery of Art (with a splendid new addition […]

The Big Louse (Pl. lice)

The Big Louse (Pl. lice)

I’m not going to give the louse who commented to my “Big Snooze” blog much space except to say thank heavens for the “Details” section that allowed me to track down the perpetrator. The lousy comments had nothing to do with my blog content (about a day at the Milwaukee Ballet), but instead was a […]

November Fifth

November Fifth

Up in the morning; out on the trail. Actually Prospect Avenue was the former route of Sauk Indians, but yesterday, November 4, 2008, it’s treked by people headed to the Charles Allis Museum to vote. By 7:30AM, I turn around and head home because no way am I fighting that line. The sun was splendid, […]

Sometimes A Donut Is Just A Donut

Sometimes A Donut Is Just A Donut

This morning on my way to Schwartz on Downer, I stopped in at the Obama headquarters and helped myself to a plain old unfrosted old-fashioned donut. The workers were busy firing up the troops for the final days of the world’s longest presidential election. On the north wall, a large portrait of Obama (resembling a […]

Pea Green

Pea Green

With apologies to Edward Lear (1812 – 1888), author of The Owl and the Pussy-Cat. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea In a beautiful pea-green boat They took some honey, and plenty of money Wrapped in a five-pound note… Revised version pre-election 2008: Sarah and John went to sea In a beautiful Republican […]

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I have three basic rules for reviewing art. They address the content, the craftsmanship, and the consistency of the work. Making art does not involve “magic,” nor does writing about it. What’s needed is an experienced eye, clear thinking, and, unless you are some kind of whiz kid, long hours. Computers are great tools, but […]

Stranger in a strange land

Stranger in a strange land

By Judith Ann Moriarty Now – January 11, 2009 I’m bound to the past. I approach the very idea of “interactive” art with a wary eye. To view a painting, sculpture or photograph is a personal event shaped by my education in the arts and my philosophy of what art is. I enjoy being pleased […]

Act on these

Act on these

Last month a new publication (Alt-) landed on the scene, fueled by a new generation of local artists getting the word out about what they’re up to. The beat continues with a goodly number of small energetic galleries testing their mettle, not the least of which is the Armoury Gallery in the Fortress building. You […]

The Big O

The Big O

No, not that one. Or the other O’s either. I’m talking here about the O that counts on Tuesday, November 4th. You’ll be setting your watches, clocks, and other timepieces back one hour on November 2, which means you’ll have an extra hour before casting your vote two days later. It’s almost over, all the […]

The Big Snooze

The Big Snooze

It’s Sunday, October 26 (Halloween weekend) and I’m sitting in Box H at the Marcus Center, waiting for the curtain to open and reveal the Milwaukee Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty. My watch says 1:30 pm, which means I’ll be missing my afternoon nap. My seat is so comfy that I could sneak in a few ZZZZs, […]

Step Right Up

Step Right Up

As one of the 2007 recipients of a Mary Nohl Fellowship, Colin Matthes hit the jackpot. The 30-year-old scored again when the spacious inova/Kenilworth gallery was recently enlarged to accommodate the awardees’ efforts. Though a few of the exhibits are politically understated, Matthes’ War Fair: Occupation Games for Citzens and Non-Combatants scores mightily in this […]

Bee Bomb

Bee Bomb

Nicole Hauser, the lively staff person at Tory Folliard Gallery searched high and low for the right guy. Last year she married him, “him” being Racine-based sculptor Bill Reid, the focus of a November 2008 feature in Milwaukee Home Magazine. Actually, he was right under her nose all the time….as a regular exhibitor at Folliard […]

A Dead Rodent Plus Two Carrots

A Dead Rodent Plus Two Carrots

What’s small and elegant and depicts a rodent, and in another work, two carrots? I first saw these paintings by the late John Wilde (1919-2006), at the Tory Folliard Gallery. Sandwiched between another Wilde (a green pepper), the terrific surrealist trio knocked me out. Let’s start with the painting of the rodent, and beyond that, […]

Sludge Suckers

Sludge Suckers

Early this morning, the day after the third Presidential debate, my phone rang. On the other end an aggressive recorded voice, informed me that Obama consorts with terrorists, i.e. Bill Ayers. The voice did not identify itself as being aligned with any particular group. I slammed down the phone in disgust. How much lower can […]

The Flip Side of Life

The Flip Side of Life

I’m wondering what would be revealed if the small town where I spent (until 1951) the first fifteen years of my life, had its skin peeled off? When I speak of “skin,” I’m talking about churches, schools, farms, and various other signifiers of the good life in rural America. Until we moved to Kansas City […]

Chocolate & Wurst

Chocolate & Wurst

You know things are bad when a small bank coyly titled “Main Street” collapses. It’s almost as if that maudlin flick A Wonderful Life is suddenly and forever no longer available for viewing. You know things are bad when Laura Bush starts shopping for a new house in Big D, perhaps figuring the old shack […]

Astronaut Artist

Astronaut Artist

My son was about six or seven when Alan Bean blasted off in November 1969, piloting the lunar module of Apollo 12: Destination, moon. Bean became the fourth person to trod there. At age 76, he’s alive and well, and recently had an exhibit of his artworks at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum […]

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

I didn’t watch the second Presidential debate. McCain vs. Obama. Obama vs. McCain. I turned off the latest television report on the bailout fiasco, and tuned instead to the 1967 flick, The Graduate, which was airing on TCM. A few years ago, my son told me it was the movie that defined his era. In […]

BAAAAAAA!

BAAAAAAA!

The American taxpayers are about to be shorn. I’m not entirely unacquainted with the shearing of sheep, having observed the process on my aunt’s sheep ranch in South Dakota, a long time ago, in the days before our government began substituting citizens for sheep. There are a few basic rules for a good shearing: citizens […]

Flat Broke and Burned Out

Flat Broke and Burned Out

Instead of watching the first presidential debate, I opted to hop into bed with a copy of Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow, the first in his “The Sea of Fertility” cycle of four novels. It takes place in 1912 Tokyo and is basically a tale about two cultures: the traditional vs. the non-traditional. The author is […]

An Adieu to Delfs

An Adieu to Delfs

Twelve years ago when Andreas Delfs became Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, I was assigned to interview him. We met at the Performing Arts Center (now the Marcus Center), and my hands were shaking as I set up my trusty recorder. In came Maestro Delfs wearing blue jeans with a baby blue sweater […]

Visual Arts Picks

Visual Arts Picks

On Thursday, September 4, a video tribute dedicated to the victims of September 11, 2001 aired at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. It prompted a visibly upset MSNBC commentator, Keith Olbermann, to apologize for its insensitivity. A week later, he was yanked as anchor for the November 4 election coverage. “Razor blades. Pocketknives. […]

Inside McCain’s brain

Inside McCain’s brain

Hope burns eternal, and in an effort to be unbiased in this election year, I picked up the October Atlantic and began reading a lengthy page 40 feature titled “The Wars of John McCain.” The cover featured a headshot of the Senator from Arizona. Something in his eyes looked “sincere,” but I grew up during […]

Totally unexpected

Totally unexpected

Urban Outfitters on floor one of the artsy Kenilworth building has the right idea when it comes to marketing. Check out the street art Mao stencils on the exterior of north face, then walk a few steps west and consider Amy M. Scokza’s cut paper display in the window. A few more steps and you […]

Moose lodge

Moose lodge

This has been a strange year. I’ve started writing a weekly column (City Mouse) for my old Iowa hometown newspaper, The Villisca Review. I grew up there in a berg (population now 1,000) nestled between two branches of the Nodaway River, in the valley known as Nodaway. The paper has been publishing for 150 years, […]

Humping for Obama

Humping for Obama

Saturday, September 13: I’ve just returned from the afternoon opening of Obama’s campaign headquarters at 534 West National Avenue in Walker’s Point. It was a homecoming of sorts as I used to live in a funky building adjacent to La Perla at 5th & National and later, worked at Art Muscle Magazine at 10th & […]

Mad for Donald Man

Mad for Donald Man

I’m in love with Mad Men. It’s my era, the age of nipped in waists, crinoline petticoats and Merry Widow waist-cinchers, and well, yes, rubber girdles that steamed up at the drive-in movies. These were actually pure rubber and they came packaged in long tubes of silver and (I think) pink. Getting out of them […]

Run Dick Run

Run Dick Run

Jane: Run Dick Run. Dick: I’m running. Jane: It’s hot! Dick: Arizona isn’t Alaska. Jane: Look Dick Look! Naked people hiding in the sage brush! Dick: Where? Jane: Over there stupid. Dick: No one important. Job seekers I guess. Jane: Run Dick Run. Dick: There’s a big line of soldiers up ahead. Jane: Their arms […]

Shimmy like jelly on a plate

Shimmy like jelly on a plate

Last Saturday evening, September 5, I found myself in the ballroom of the Tripoli Shrine Temple at 3000 W. Wisconsin. It was my first visit to the 1928 structure built to resemble the Taj Mahal, and the parking lot was filling fast when I swung into the guarded space and walked through the south entrance […]

Ups & Downs

Ups & Downs

Mary Louise Schumacher, the art critic for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, beat everyone to the punch with her announcement of Nick Frank’s appointment as the “permanent” curator of Inova. “Permanent” is a rather risky word to use in the world of art, but after serving for several years as Inova’s “interim” curator, at least it […]

Do Rags Make the Woman?

Do Rags Make the Woman?

My first dance demanded a special dress…long, lavish, and designed to fit a movie star like Rita Hayworth. It was nowhere near Cindy McCain’s controversial pumped up pumpkin-colored princess ensemble she wore at the Republican convention. Ah no, the dress of my dreams cost nowhere near the estimated $300,000 Cindy frock, but in all fairness, […]

Gripe list

Gripe list

I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum today, specifically to re-see Unmasked & Anonymous in the Koss Gallery. As I passed the Gilbert & George show, it was in the process of being taken down. While roaming the galleries I decided to make a mental list of the irritating stuff that is cluttering the glorious Calatrava […]

Farwell goes Atomic

Farwell goes Atomic

Monster Mash

Monster Mash

There’s a major battle gathering fury on Prospect Avenue. New Land Enterprises is trying to push through a condo tower on the site of the historic Goll Mansion, which NLE guy, Boris Gokhman, purchased several years ago. One of the area residents said it would include a tall obelisk on the east end, not unlike […]

Grunt green, pea green, etc.

Grunt green, pea green, etc.

It isn’t easy being green. Check out the paint job on the parking garage on the east side of Downer Avenue. You know the one we mean. The one that’s big ugly and THERE. The addition of green paint laid on in confusing configurations is a bit like putting lipstick on a pig. Further south […]

Beneath The Gold Sticker

Beneath The Gold Sticker

September: this is the month when writers, editors and sometimes readers in massive polls are asked to pick winners from the tsunami of venues, programming and promising stars careening toward the shore. I have to say it reminds me of scratching off a gold sticker, a sticker that perhaps conceals THE winning number, which you […]

Bag it and ship it back to the sculptor…

Bag it and ship it back to the sculptor…

…Gerald Sawyer, who maybe is hiding in the bushes considering a career change. We’re talking about the Bronze Fonz. Last year, I did some online research seeking images of this artist’s work and it took only a few minutes to determine he must surely be a graduate of the Hallmark School of Sappy Sculpture. Okay, […]

Developing News: Update
Developing News

Update

Bridget Griffith Evans and Gene Evans move more often than a roofer in a tornado. Honest. Their final exhibit at Luckystar happens August 22 from 6-10pm. It’s appropriately titled the “Monsters of Metal,” and the ever-mobile proprietors claim it’s their final show at the Vliet street address before they hit the road in 2009, traveling […]

An Alternative to Grilling Brats

An Alternative to Grilling Brats

This may be the finest exhibit anywhere. It’s happening NOW in the Koss Gallery at the Milwaukee Art Museum. “Unmasked & Anonymous: Shimon & Lindemann Consider Portraiture,” was previewed by this writer for the Shepherd Express. Adding to the event, are works by various photographers, including Francis Ford and Stanley Ryan Jones of Milwaukee-based fame. […]

Guilt Free Bones

Guilt Free Bones

I finally got around to visiting the Gilbert & George show at MAM’s Baker/Rowland Galleries. It was coordinated by Chief Curator Joe Ketner, who will be moving on shortly before G&G moves out on September 1. Anyway, I decided to see the show after visiting with Dean Jensen, who runs a Water Street venue bearing […]

Guilt Feelings

Guilt Feelings

Recently I attended an art closing and heard people mention that they hadn’t been to see the Gilbert & George show at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Their voices were tinged with “guilt,” as if the G&G was something they should be interested in, but aren’t. I know the feeling. Years ago (25 more or less), […]

At a Moment’s Notice: Photographs by John Heymann
At a Moment’s Notice

Photographs by John Heymann

At a Moment’s Notice: Photographs by John Heymann Charles Allis Museum August 6 – September 21 Opening Reception: Wednesday, August 6, 5:30 – 8:30 pm John Heymann, “Lantern, Antelope Canyon, Arizona.” 1999. What a month for admirers of fine photography! The Milwaukee Art Museum unveils a major exhibition August 14 – Unmasked and Anonymous – […]

I Went To A Garden Party

I Went To A Garden Party

Fred Stonehouse has been around town long enough to have gained quite a bit of fame, both local and national. In fact, Madonna, a taste-maker if there ever was one, owns his quirky paintings, and wow, Sheryl Crowe snapped up his entire exhibit at the recent Jazz Festival in the Big Easy. Stoney has a […]

Earning Chops

Earning Chops

Back in the heady days when “outsider” (a term I dislike) art was hot, painter Fred Stonehouse was a big star, particularly at the Dean Jensen Gallery, and later, at the Tory Folliard Gallery. Gee whiz, Madonna bought at least one of his quirky paintings! Stonehouse just kept doing his thing and never let it […]

Twombly Tale

Twombly Tale

Cy Twombly, “Untitled” (1967) There it hangs in Gallery 18 at the Milwaukee Art Museum: Cy Twombly’s “Untitled” (1967). I first saw it three decades ago, and it’s still a thrill. It’s been moved here and there over the years, most recently during the re-hanging of the contemporary galleries. I had a moment of panic […]

Great Architecture

Great Architecture

In 2005, the eight-story 1927 Ambassador Hotel at 2308 W. Wisconsin Avenue had a twelve-million dollar fix, a “lift” inside and out. The Art Deco building certainly deserved help. In fact, prior to the sensitive re-do, it had become infamous as a hangout for serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who allegedly murdered one of his victims […]

Freedom Fighters

Freedom Fighters

I’m glad I held off visiting Gilbert & George. The perfect moment to see it at the Milwaukee Art Museum arrived on a splendid July 3. Driving south on Lincoln Memorial Drive, I noticed how every inch of green space was packed with folks waiting for the Big Bang. Words flooded my mind as I […]

Twenty Five Tons of Nothing

Twenty Five Tons of Nothing

When California artist David Middlebrook’s 25 ton sculpture, “Tip”, was installed in Gordon Park several years ago, the reception for the clumsy white thing was underwhelming. When “Stratiformis” was installed in Catalano Park, the reception was underwhelming. Of course, the folks responsible for bringing this stuff to Milwaukee took issue with the barrage of criticism. […]

Deep Doo-doo

Deep Doo-doo

Until this year, it never occurred to me that, as a journalist who writes about art, I should also be a journalist who never ever collects art. The opinions about the rights and/or wrongs seem to whirl around the possibility that some art critics expect to be gifted with art from the persons they have […]

Public Not

Public Not

The small Iowa town I grew up in had not one piece of public art. And still doesn’t, unless you count the town square’s small granite memorial dedicated to Veterans, and a black and white fiberglass porker standing proud on the rim of town. It’s refreshing to go back for reunions and not have public […]

Half-Baked (Why presidential candidates should clean their plates)

Half-Baked (Why presidential candidates should clean their plates)

When Barack Obama exited a Pennsylvania diner, he left behind a plate with a half-eaten waffle and a bit of sausage. Too bad he didn’t clean his plate by stuffing his face, as a waitperson snapped up the detritus and bagged the contents (including the silverware), the result being that it showed up on Ebay, […]

Born to be free

Born to be free

Free the Galazan 5! Inova/Kenilworth June 13 – July 27 Opening reception: Friday, June 13, 6 – 9pm Gene Galazan left Milwaukee years ago and fled to Arizona. I remember him from the way back days when he and his artist spouse were active participants in Milwaukee art events, so I was intrigued to learn […]

Gotcha!

Gotcha!

You’ve got to love folks who get “snookered.” Even those who get snookered into buying fake works of art. Who would have thought that the thousands of visitors flooding the Art Institute of Chicago to worship Paul Gauguin’s “The Faun” were actually adoring a fake made by a family of fakes (the Greenhalgh family) holed-up […]

A stitch in time

A stitch in time

Woodland Pattern Book Center Devotion to Thread 720 E. Locust St., Milwaukee Now – June 13 Reception: Saturday May 31, 5-9pm, with a Gallery Talk at 7 pm Photos by Faythe Levine Woodland Pattern has long been a mainstay of the Riverwest neighborhood, and over the years, it has extended its reach to include the […]

Fest me

Fest me

Fest Me Milwaukee is in the grips of “Festivalism,” a word coined by Peter Schjeldahl (art critic for the New Yorker magazine) after surviving the Venice Biennale in 1999. “The drill is ambulatory consumption,” he quips, “a little of this, a little of that.” As I write, Memorial Day weekend’s Kite Fest unfolds below my […]

The truth of the matter

The truth of the matter

As a kid I believed everything I read was true, especially the Bible (the Old Testament was particularly frightening), and odd as it may seem, tales from True Confessions magazine, a publication forbidden in my Midwestern childhood home. Fortunately, my best friend lived across the street in the shadow of the Presbyterian Church, and when […]

Milwaukee sinks

Milwaukee sinks

Milwaukee has some awful public art (revolting!), and some successful public art. (sublime!) Well, we aren’t the only cities suffering from bad public art. Google “Bad Public Art” and you’ll get my drift. The Art Newspaper reports that “statues in Britain are Revolting – and so are we.” They call it an “epidemic of Frankenstein […]

Southwestern Chief

Southwestern Chief

There is nothing finer than riding snug in the belly of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief as it slices a wedge near Ft. Madison, Iowa, crosses the glittering Mississippi, and begins its crawl through Illinois, where the land is mostly flat. The Chief, bound for Chicago, often gives way to freight trains, but that’s okay. It gives […]

Before da show

Before da show

Milwaukee International Polish Falcons Beer Hall 801 E. Clarke Street, Riverwest Friday May 16 (5-9pm) Saturday May 17 (Noon-9pm) It’s Thursday, 1 pm, May 15. Tomorrow at 5 pm, the doors open to reveal the Milwaukee International art fair. I’m standing in the middle of the chaos at the Polish Falcons Beer Hall at 801 […]

Body Heat

Body Heat

The Milwaukee Public Museum opened Body Worlds on January 18, positioning it as a limited engagement. According to their website, it’s the most highly attended touring exhibition in the world, and promises, in a P.T. Barnum kind of pitch, that you’ll “see the human body like never before.” Before visiting the 200 authentic organs, systems […]

What’s going on?

What’s going on?

Michael H. Lord is back in business, or at least it looks that way as the doors to his sort-of gallery space were open during spring Gallery Night and Day. Not that you need reminding, but Lord was sent packing to prison for various mistakes. Poet John Tyson is still incarcerated and will be for […]

Five on three

Five on three

The Armoury Gallery 1718 N. lst St. (3N3) Gallery hours: Fridays & Saturdays 1 – 5 Opening Reception: Friday, May 9, 7 – 10pm info@thearmourygallery.com Two decades have passed since I had a studio on floor five at the Fortress. I was painting BIG back then and recall lugging the results up and down the […]

The Herd

The Herd

For many years there’s been a bull (okay, it’s a herd) loose in Milwaukee. The herd snorts mightily, charges at those it deems “powerful,” — i.e. those with money, position, and/or those it views as snubbing art produced in Wisconsin. The allegations frequently target the prestigious Milwaukee Art Museum. It’s a wearisome tale that began […]

Marcus Aurelius Online

Marcus Aurelius Online

While ruling Rome, Marcus Aurelius Antonius (b. AD 121-D. AD 180) wrote Meditations. In the twelve books he set down rules written in Greek, rules for living. A Stoic among Stoics, actually he wrote them to himself. In the year 2008, I’m wondering how these famous admonitions and aphorisms would best serve the art community […]

Kevin Miyazki and the Whitney Biennial

Kevin Miyazki and the Whitney Biennial

The March 24, 2008 issue of The New Yorker Magazine has a cover illustration depicting a mug shot of a guy caught with his pants down. His jacket is brown, his tie is striped in red and white, and even though the image ends at his shoulders and ankles, just enough is revealed so you […]

Setting the stage

Setting the stage

Jeffrey M. Kenney is an employee of Katie Gingrass Gallery, and even though his artist statement reads “Jeffrey M. Kenney,” you can just call him “Jeff.” I saw two of his photographs recently when I stopped in to write a Shepherd Express review of an exhibition at Gingrass Gallery. They were not part of the […]

Wisconsin art and artists

Wisconsin art and artists

From March 27 – August 2008, the work of Milwaukee-based artist Santiago Cucullu will be installed in the Schroeder Galleria at the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is a long narrow space flooded with light from the west, and should work well with the large wall drawings constructed of sculptures, contact paper and watercolors. Please note […]

Welcome to Dem Bones

Welcome to Dem Bones

Hello — Stella Cretek here. You’ve landed at Dem Bones. Don’t let my upswept blonde ‘do and drooping cig fool you. It’s only a jpeg of a painting by a friend who is an exceptionally bad painter. Because this blog will attend primarily to art, I figured I’d start off with an example of what […]

Track back

Track back

Inova/Kenilworth Gallery 2155 N. Prospect Avenue Adelheid Mers & Indexical Frontiers Now – May 11, 2008 I almost decided not to review the new Inova/Kenilworth exhibition (now – May 11, 2008). The lengthy press release was exhausting, and I was somewhat confused by the information surrounding Chicago-based artist Adelheid Mers. According to the press release, […]

A trail well-traveled

A trail well-traveled

A Survey: Drawings & Paintings by John Wickenberg March 19 – May 18 Charles Allis Art Museum 1801 N. Prospect Avenue John Wickenberg studied under the guidance of another John (Wisconsin’s own John Wilde); the ghost of his late teacher, who died in 2006, lingers in A Survey: Drawings & Paintings by John Wickenberg (now […]

Knock out

Knock out

The Powerful Hand of George Bellows: Drawings from the Boston Public Library Milwaukee Art Museum Koss Gallery Now – March 23 The Milwaukee Art Museum’s spin for the George Bellows exhibition (now- March 23) goes like this: special rare drawings and lithographs, important chronicler of American life in the early twentieth century, highlights include scenes […]

The ultimate trip

The ultimate trip

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy, all for the love of you. (from “A Bicycle Built for Two”) Recently I watched Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) for the umpteenth time, and it’s as fascinating as it was 40 years ago — perhaps more so after the 2001 unveiling of […]

Saturday & Sunday

Saturday & Sunday

It’s Saturday, February 2 – Groundhog Day – and I’m at the Milwaukee Art Museum to cruise the newly configured contemporary galleries, where MAM’s Chief Curator Joe Ketner has shaped a fresh path to “seeing.” The elevator carries me upward from the heated garage (what a waste of energy!) to Windhover Hall, where preparations are […]

Less is more

Less is more

The Grandeur of God: Photographs by Don Doll, S.J. Haggerty Museum of Art (Marquette University) – 13th & Clybourn January 31 – April 13, 2008 The Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art on the campus of Marquette University is an old friend. I was there when it opened in 1984, and each spring and […]

The line forms here

The line forms here

The line: the beginning of possibilities, the basis of all art, begins at Inova/Kenilworth in an adventurous and well-balanced exhibit, which I reviewed in two prior features this week (Read part one and part two). If this prelude to spring forecasts what’s on the Kenilworth horizon, those who moan about our “dismal” art scene are […]

Further Considerations

Further Considerations

In part one of my look at the Inova/Kenilworth exhibition (now – March 14), I signed off with a few questions for the exhibit’s curator, Nicholas Frank. Because there has been controversy about the balance of men vs. women receiving Mary L. Nohl Fellowships, and because the current Inova/Kenilworth event features four women and one […]

Drawing Conclusions

Drawing Conclusions

Deb Sokolow: The Trouble with People You Don’t Know The Flight of Fake Tears: Large-Scale Narrative Drawing: Dominic McGill, Robyn O’Neil, Claire Pentecost, Amy Ruffo Peck School Of The Arts Institute of Visual Arts Inova/Kenilworth 2155 N. Prospect Ave. The Institute of Visual Arts in the splendid Inova/Kenilworth building welcomes their spring season with politics, […]

Romancing the seed?

Romancing the seed?

Seed Cycles: Works by Sally Kuzma Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum 2220 N. Terrace Avenue January 23 – April 6, 2008 Artist’s Talk: Sunday, February 24, 2 p.m. One would guess that the majority of visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Kew (near London), likely have little scientific interest in The Millennium Seed Bank […]

The riches of Ruin

The riches of Ruin

It’s impossible to ignore “Ruin,” an assemblage of 32 antique TV cabinets, stacked against the north wall on the main level of the Milwaukee Art Museum. The installation, by Nam June Paik, is part of Sensory Overload, a reinstallation of the contemporary art galleries which opens on January 24 and runs until 2009. Overload promises […]

Peep Show

Peep Show

Peep Show Brooks Barrow Gallery Marshall Building (lower level) 207 E. Buffalo Jan. 11 – Jan. 16 414-331-8635 brooksbarrowgallery.com When the invitation arrived to attend Peep Show, an exhibit of photographs by ten students of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee adjunct professor of photography Tom Bamberger, whose career includes impressive exhibits of his own work, plus a […]

A refreshing change

A refreshing change

Images courtesy Milwaukee Art Museum Chicago. Metzker, Ray K. American, b. 1931. 1958. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert A. Fine When I finally visited the Ramirez exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Baker-Rowland Galleries were jammed with students, oldsters and in-betweeners. I managed to snag MAM’s Executive Director David Gordon […]