Judith Ann Moriarty

Wisconsin Artists Capture Nature

By - Jun 4th, 2010 04:00 am
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Photo by Young ran Zhu

With copious quantities of oil gurgling into the Gulf of Mexico and BP trying to capture it, doesn’t this seem like the perfect moment for the Coalition of Photographic Arts (CoPA) to bring on their juried show, Wisconsin Artists Capture Nature?  (By the way, did anyone get a shot of the 350-pound black bear seen cruising Kewaskum over Memorial Day weekend? A natural wonder driven to distraction by the rampant development bordering the eastern edge of Kettle Moraine.)

Anyway, as I speed along the paved trail to the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield, I wonder what will be on the walls in the Ploch Art Gallery. Will the work from the members be fresh and uncontrived? Breathtaking and majestic?

Behind me is a considerable carbon footprint, and ahead of me, dare I ask … will there be photos of fluffy animals interspersed with Technicolor beaches and gnarly windswept vistas?

I can cruise National Geographic or Hallmark cards for that.

Photo by Geri Laehn

I arrive at Brookfield’s Mitchell Park, set on a large expanse of flat marshy field bordered with a mixed hardwood forest. The Wilson Center welcomes me in, and I find myself in the middle of executive director Jonathan Winkle’s tour-around-talk, which included much for their Hidden River Art Festival, to be held Sept. 17-19.

Dead ahead is a soaring fireplace, and clinging to its face is Streaming, sculptor Susan Falkman’s splendid carved limestone installation.

In October, more of her works, much smaller, will be exhibited on the first floor of this two-story venue. If you visit lovely Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park, you’ll find more of her marble sculptures lining the sidewalk on the south entry of the blowsy main building. If you get lucky, you may see an excellent small art exhibit installed in the modest original garden building.

But wait, this review was to be about CoPA.

I did peruse the works which are hung in the Ploch Gallery, which  isn’t really a gallery, but a winding wall space on the second-floor balcony area overlooking the main entry floor. I was able to get in on a pre-preview earlier this week, so at that point the labels weren’t in place and the show was still under a bit of construction. The media reception was last night, and tonight is the grand opening. I heard the executive director remark that the Ploch would show the work of artists from Wisconsin, but if that’s the case they’re going to be needing a real gallery rather than what looks like a leftover wall space in my opinion.

The visual art component of this still young venue is a bit weak at this stage, but I’m hopeful.

Photo by Bob Israel

Generally, the show was what I would expect from an event titled Wisconsin Artists Capture Nature. Floral Fireworks, a hugely orange burst of color, more or less dominated one wall much to the delight (I would surmise) of artist Marcia Getto. A particularly handsome horizontal photograph on the north wall was ruined by what appeared to be dirt that had sifted down on the inside of the glass. I was shocked that it was hung in such condition. Steve Yeo’s birds are quite right in their understated elegance, and Yong-ran Zhu is on track in a kind of Ansel Adams way.

I saw nothing fresh or innovative, by which I mean innovative in the way that Wisconsin photographer Tom Bamberger is innovative. His landscapes are the absolute end, and anyone aspiring to landscape photography should study him carefully. Bamberger “gets” what natural is.

Does any of this critiquing matter? Not when artists gather in the summer to toast each other in the confines of the promising Sharon Lynne Wilson venue, which is a nice addition to an area blasted with strip malls and industrial parks. My opinion of this show will be but one of many, but I’m experienced enough to say that this particular effort was mediocre.

Oh by the way, Motown’s The Temptations will be at the Wilson on Saturday around 5:30 p.m. Doo-wop, doo-wop.

“Wisconsin Artists Capture Nature” will be shown June 4–July 30 at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center in Brookfield.

Ms. Moriarty, the former editor/publisher of Art Muscle magazine, has been an arts reviewer for over two decades. Her articles have appeared in Milwaukee Magazine, The Shepherd Express, Info and (more frequently) at urbanmilwaukeedial.com.


Categories: Art

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