A handbook of current exhibitions
Looking for interesting art in and out of the mainstream museum shows? Milwaukee’s got galleries aplenty, a plethora of art styles, local and international artists, showing all sorts of mediums from drawings to furniture. Best of all, gallery-hopping can make for a fun afternoon of art browsing without admission charges (except for some museums, as listed below). Here’s a selection of current Eastside and Downtown-area shows for your viewing pleasure.
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
Jon Michael Route: For the Love of Metal
June 17-August 23, 2009
2220 N. Terrace Avenue
Open Wed.-Sun., 1 pm – 5 pm
Call for admission prices: 414-271-3656
Mary Ellen Heus, On the Wing, 2008, on view in Threaded Metaphors at the Charles Allis Art Museum. Photo by Kat Murrell.
Threaded Metaphors: Text and Textiles Part III: On The Edge
May 13 – July 26, 2009
1801 N. Prospect Avenue
Open Wed.-Sun., 1 pm – 5 pm
Call for admission prices: 414-278-8295
The full title is actually longer than the show. Threaded Metaphors is a group effort between six fiber artists and six poets; the raison d’être (or reason for being, in a fancy way) is purposefully contrived inspiration.
A poet blindly chooses a textile work, and writes a poem. A fiber artist chooses a poem, and creates a work based on the text. The crossover of text and textile is an interesting approach, but risks coming off as a purely creative exercise rather than a personally driven process and project. This is a comparatively diminutive installation, only occupying one wall in the Margaret Rahill Great Hall. The textiles and poems seem to jostle each other for space and visual dominance, the stark squares of the mounted poems seeming at odds with the pliability of the textile pieces.
Landscape paintings seem to have been a favored subject of Allis’s, but for all the small-scale drama in their blazing sunsets, bucolic pastures, and choppy seas, they are filled with decorum. Some famous on view include the English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1888), French artist Rosa Bonheur (1822-1890) who was especially well-known for her paintings of animals, and a wonderful pair of paintings by Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910), hung high at the top of the stairs. If you’ve also seen the American Originals show at the Milwaukee Art Museum, you can take another look at one of The Eight, represented by a lively Everett Shinn (American, 1876-1953) pastel, also upstairs.
You can also make the rounds at the Allis’s sister institution, the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, housed in an airy Italianate villa with a 16th-century style garden cascading down the bluff overlooking the lake. Along with a discounted admission to Villa Terrace, there is a special three-museum pass ($11, available at any of the museums) that will get you into these two aforementioned institutions, plus the always interesting Pabst Mansion (2000 W. Wisconsin Avenue, www.pabstmansion.com). This stately old home, built in the Flemish Renaissance revival style and completed in 1892, features furnished rooms in period style with a rich array of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts, plus the fabulous ambiance of turn-of-the-century opulence throughout.
Roy Staab: Four Seasons/Four Corners
Opening Friday, July 10, 6-9pm
2155 N. Prospect Avenue
Wed. and Fri.-Sun., 12 pm – 5 pm, Thurs., 12pm-8pm
Left: Nick Lowe, Hand Drawn Grid, Brown, 2009. Courtesy of Nick Lowe and The Green Gallery, Milwaukee.
Right: Mike Williams, Field, 2009. Courtesy of Mike Williams and The Green Gallery, Milwaukee.
If God Could Draw: Nick Lowe and Mike Williams
(N)icholas (F)rank (S)elects: Drawings from the Hermetic Gallery
June 20-July 26, 2009
1500 N. Farwell Avenue
Thurs., 4 pm – 8 pm; Fri.-Sun., 2 pm – 6 pm
A title like If God Could Draw smacks of hubris. It’s a suggestion that could compel one to prepare for linear finesse on the scale of a Michelangelo or Raphael. Psych! This has much more to do with irony and cheek in the fast lines and nudge-nudge scatological humor of Mike Williams, and acquiescence to obsession in the minimalism-gone-awry tendencies of Nick Lowe.
Williams is a Brooklyn-based artist, and Lowe hails from Los Angeles. Both created works on paper specifically for this show and appeared together at the opening reception for a draw-off, a series of three-minute works produced based on audience suggestion, the results of which are also available in the gallery.
Lowe will have none of that figurative stuff, thank-you-very-much. Structure occupies his attention and an impulse for minimalism in the stark geometries of the grid. But a little is never enough. Grids waver, slant, and expand, freehand marker lines vary in tone and color, revealing imperfections and decisions. There is only a passing pretense to beauty or the precision of a Piet Mondrian, and the tendency to wander from the straight-and-narrow takes over.
In the back gallery, there is a small selection of other pieces on view, a teaser for an upcoming Hermetic Collection show at the Green Gallery slated for early 2010. Drawings are the order of the day here as well, but refinement and delicate lines prevail in these compact, succinct works.
Wisconsin Artists Showcase
April 17 – July 21, 209
1024 E. State Street
Tues.-Fri., 11 am – 5:30 pm; Sat., 11 am – 5 pm
1119 E. Knapp Street, Milwaukee
Open Tues.-Sat., 11 am – 4 pm
DOWNTOWN / THIRD WARD / FIFTH WARD
Great Impressions 2: An exhibition of Modern and contemporary prints
May 15 – July 11, 2009
759 N. Water Street
Open Tues. – Fri., 10 am – 6 pm; Sat., 10 am – 4 pm
Chuck Weber, Paris in the Rain, on view in Everything French. Image courtesy of DeLind Gallery of Fine Art.
July 1 – 25, 2009
450 E. Mason Street
Mon.-Fri., 10 am – 6 pm; Sat., 10:30 am – 4 pm
The DeLind Gallery of Fine Art is filled with Everything French during the month of July, but there is something of an international crosscurrent at work as well. Paintings include contemporary Parisian scenes by Japanese artist Kazuki Yoshioka, French-themed compositions by Wisconsin artist Chuck Weber, as well as landscapes by French artists associated with the Barbizon school.
A good part of the current installation is devoted to vintage posters and prints. This old-school form of advertising is undeniably attractive, particularly the work of Jules Cheret (French, 1836-1932) and his women of flouncy dresses who charmingly float in spaces of nothingness. They’re beguiling, smiling models for a variety of drinks, nightclubs, small pleasures and necessities. These posters tend to operate on a large scale, an eyeful for an outdoor spectacle. One exceptionally lovely piece, very small and tucked away, is the subtly erotic and allegorical Cassan Fils by the art nouveau artist, Alphonse Mucha (Czech, 1860-1939).
What compels this flair for all things français? Bastille Days kicks off this weekend, and as the gallery is located in a prime position just down from the festival on Cathedral Square, the Francophile fun continues on at DeLind’s. The gallery has recently moved into a space adjoining the venerable George Watts & Sons (in business since 1870) at Mason and Jefferson Streets. This new location is more intimate, but nonetheless interesting, and retains its character as one of Milwaukee’s more art historical galleries, heavy on works from the nineteenth century and twentieth-century art that follows closely in that tradition.
Wisconsin artist Chuck Weber will create a painting on site Friday, July 10, from early afternoon until evening as part of the Everything French / Bastille Days celebrations.
Collecting and Creating Prints
June 6 – July 14, 2009
207 E. Buffalo Street, Marshall Building, 1st floor
Tues.-Fri., 10 am – 6 pm; Sat., 10:30 am – 5 pm
207 E. Buffalo Street, Marshall Building, 1st floor
Tues.-Fri., 10 am – 6 pm, Sat., 10 am – 4 pm
19th Anniversary Exhibition
207 E. Buffalo Street, Marshall Building, 2nd floor
Call for hours: 414-643-1732
Interior, Exterior: Home as Portrait
June 26 – August 14, 2009
207 E. Buffalo Street, Marshall Building, 5th floor
Fri. & Sat., 1 pm – 4 pm
Jeffrey Kenney, (clockwise from left): Mountain and Sea Study; In the Shadow of Mount Parascotopetl; Sea Study, on view in Abstract Perspectives. Photo by Kat Murrell.
July – September, 2009
241 N. Broadway, Milwaukee
Mon.-Sat., 10 am – 6 pm; Sun., 12 pm – 4 pm
Abstract forms are the order of the day at Katie Gingrass Gallery, but from a variety of approaches. Taking away the focus on people, places and things shifts attention to color, line, implied space and texture. The heavy impasto of munificently thick paint in Milwaukee artist David Schaefer’s Shell Mandala and the crisp incised lines of North Carolina artist Joel Urruty’s Red and Black set the tone. The selections from the 10 artists in this show are coolly sophisticated; they don’t push buttons, but are breezily conscious of their surface appeal.
Geometric forms abound, often softened through organic influences. Nashville artist Rusty Wolfe produces a trick of the eye in his panels where shapes mingle and cross on coarse-looking surfaces, which are actually lacquer-smooth to the touch. Furniture takes an interesting twist with Trenton Baylor’s Bush, a table and chair made from walnut and bronze. Their lively form is like a tree that wanted to be a spider.
The most unusual works are Jeffrey Kenney’s photographs and his multimedia piece, In the Shadow of Mount Parascotopetl, named after a story by H. G. Wells. It’s like summer vacation gone spooky, a beach house at the La Brea tar pits. Kenney works in all sorts of strange materials, and like actors on a stage his mediums leave behind their quotidian existences as household items, reveling in new roles and an odd, exciting world. Kenney has a talent for this; like a Cecil B. DeMille, he creates epic scenes, albeit on smaller scales. His oceanic photographs condense and capture seas, suggesting things vast and untamed yet … unreal. Is it live, or is it something else? You’ll have to see for yourself. Illusion and mystery reign on.
233 N. Milwaukee Street
Open Tues.-Fri., 11 am – 5 pm; Sat., 11 am – 4 pm
Jason Rohlf: Errant Compass
Joe Hameister: New Still-lifes
Through July 11
Regan Golden & Jennifer Harris: Decorative Directive
July 24-August 22, 2009
911 W. National Avenue
Open Tues.-Sat., 12 pm – 5 pm
Jump Cut Pop: Evans + Fukui + Hammond + Paolozzi + Rosler + Yokoo
July 22-Oct. 4, 2009
530 N. 13th Street, Marquette University
Open Mon.-Sat., 10 am – 4:30 pm; Thurs., 10 am – 8 pm; Sun., 10 am – 5 pm
Please note that the museum is closed for maintenance until July 15.
Wisconsin at Work: Thorsten Lindberg Paintings and Drawings from the MCHS Collection
April 17-August 14, 2009
1000 N. Broadway
Open Mon.-Fri., 9 am – 5 pm; Sat., 12 pm – 6 pm; Sun., 1 pm – 4 pm
Call for admission prices: 414-277-2300
June 6 – August 23, 2009
(Our review here)
Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey
April 16 – July 12, 2009
American Furniture / Googled
July 9 – October 11, 2009
700 N. Art Museum Drive
Tues.-Sun., 10 am – 5 pm; Thurs., 10 am – 8 pm
Call for admission prices: 414-224-3200