The Cuckoo Then, on Every Tree: Three Artists Celebrate Spring
May 16 – June 28
Portrait Society Gallery
207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 526
The word cuckold is derived from cuckoo. A song in Shakespeare describes spring as the time when, “the cuckoo then on every tree, mocks married men, for thus he sings: Cuckoo!”
It’s said that three birds in hand are worth three in a bush – or something like that. The Cuckoo Then, on Every Tree, is what you’ll see at the Portrait Society Gallery, 207 E. Buffalo St., May 16 – June 28, with an opening reception on Friday, May 16, in Suite 526 (5-9pm). Three artists define the season via trees, wee animals and birds. It’s been a grim winter, but the willows are greening along the Milwaukee River, the squirrels are scampering, and near my home a cardinal hopefully whistles for a mate. Get out your Crocs and toe-revealing sandals. Fire up the grill. We’ve survived yet another winter.
Trees are a turn-on for Slobodan Markovic (or “Bob” if you prefer), though why that is remains a mystery for this artist. It could be that with fewer and fewer trees populating the globe, memorializing the remaining ones defines his art. The same could be said of artist Michael Kasun – the bird guy – who, with Markovic, attended MIAD’s predecessor, The Milwaukee School of the Arts, in the late ‘70s.
Keiler Sensenbrenner paints small-scale images of animals, for example a majestic goat. Gallery owner Debra Brehmer describes Sensenbrenner’s style as fluid and painterly, “reminiscent of Courbet or Manet,” which is a fine thing for a goat to be. Or a squirrel. A teacher at DePaul University, she makes clothes to replace her commercially manufactured wardrobe when she’s not enlightening students or making art.
The third artist in the “Green” trio, Michael Kasun, began painting images of birds for the “mini” exhibit at the popular Art Bar in Riverwest. Half of his 4” x 5” (or 4”x 6”) gouache paintings in the Portrait Gallery show are of birds he has actually sighted. Kasun’s favorite spring spot for observing his feathered friends is at Perot State Park above Trempeleau, Wisconsin, and wisely, his winter spot is Florida’s Everglades. On his 2008 spring list of sightings are brown creepers, vireos, nuthatches and even tundra swans in Lake Michigan off of North Point. “The most unusual bird I’ve seen is the least bittern, an amazing small heron that looks like a feathered dinosaur or a collared lizard when it displays,” he says. Don’t ask if he has caged birds in his home, or he’ll tell you they should be “free agents on this earth,” though $50 – $80 will buy you a Kasun bird, forever captured in paint. For strictly sentimental reasons, I popped for a spunky bluejay – they were everywhere in the cornfields in the state of Iowa where I grew up.
So go ahead and admit you are sentimental. Should you have a particular tree, animal or bird you’d like portrayed, all three artists are available for commissions via the Portrait Society. Contact Gallery Director Debra Brehmer at 414-870-9930 for additional info. Regular gallery hours are 1-4pm, Fridays & Saturdays.