Stella Cretek

Around town with Bones – 4/22/09

By - Apr 22nd, 2009 07:43 am
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Michelle Grabner @ Green Gallery

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.

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After studying a crushed soda can with a monkey painted on its side, made by Faythe Levine when she was located in a small gallery in Riverwest, I recalled interviewing her years back in a white house directly across from the Polish Falcon Bowl. She eventually moved her show to Bay View to operate her own combination gallery space and retail shop. But all good things come to an end, and her navigation of the Paper Boat Boutique on S. Howell ends soon as well. It will be missed.

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In my little sitting room is “Drip,” a Peter Barrickman painting I bought a few weeks ago.
A modernist take in shades of 50s-era pink and gray, it features a simple image of a hi-fi speaker with cords a drooping. It’s perfect and admired each and every day. Most appropriately, it was admired as I read John Updike’s slender book of poems, several of which talk about all those oldies like Doris Day and the plop plop beat of Doo-Wop. The building I live in is a modernist structure, and fortunately I convinced the condo board that the exterior lobby should have, instead of ducks and geese airborne in a garish painting,  something that would compliment the architecture. Douglas Holst, an artist formerly of Milwaukee and now in grad school out east, was hired a few years ago to do just that. His great work is visible from Prospect Avenue (at 1522 On The Lake).

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Actually, I have a great collection of work by Wisconsin-based artists. That doesn’t mean a thing, except that it more or less keeps the stimulus within the state. Among my beauties are two photographs by Kevin Miyazaki, a photograph by Johny Shimon & Julie Lindemann, a Jimmy VonMilwaukee sculpture, a light fixture by Harvey Opgenorth, a Nick Frank tondo (After Morandi), etc., etc. Oh yeah, and a Rudy Rotter drawing, and most soon to come here to live, a small drawing by Jean Roberts Guiquierre. It will join a painting by her that I bought a decade ago…was it at the old Hermetic Gallery in Riverwest, the one run by Nick Frank? What goes round comes round and the cream rises to the top and, with a few exceptions, the Haggerty exhibit showcasing the best of Wisconsin-based artists is pretty much on target.

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I graduated from Carroll College (now Carroll University), and so a big part of my collection of art from Wisconsin-based artists is enshrined on campus in Shattuck Hall. The first piece of art I ever bought was a superb black/white photograph of a young man smoking…by Tom Bamberger. Unfortunately, someone stole it from the hallowed halls in Shattuck. At least they have excellent taste. To this I add my extreme disappointment to see Tom sucked into the silly online “conversation” about how Milwaukee Magazine allegedly beats up on MJS’ Mary Louise Schumacher. The usual suspects joined in the absurd dialogue, which allegedly will eventually lead to a healthy dialogue about the arts. I doubt it. Mostly it will be lip service with no enriching results.

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Well, judging from the junk exhibited during last week’s Gallery Night & Day (with a few exceptions, but 99% of the “art” was atrocious), perhaps the conversation should begin with what’s going on with college-level art instruction. Ask yourself: should universities be grinding out endless acres of artists? And is arts criticism something we need? Isn’t everyone a critic? No, everyone isn’t. They are the windbags of the world. On the upside, Michelle Grabner, as well as being a talented artist herself, writes beautifully for the monthly ArtForum mag. She critiques without being breathless and silly, and whether or not you agree with them they are intelligent and well-written. “Critics” here could take a cue from her.

Categories: Dem Bones

0 thoughts on “Around town with Bones – 4/22/09”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Doug Holst gave me an amazing painting of skinny inverted triangles in greens and blues just hours before he left for Albany. It’s the centerpiece of my very modest collection of art by friends that have come in and out of my life, and it’s absolutely precious to me. Just further proof that art is what moves you and means something to you, and not about hype, “brand name”, what matches your couch, or an “investment.”

    Any Gallery Night standouts, Stella?

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