Mission to M.A.R.S.
A few weeks ago, on my way into the office I stopped at the corner of 1st and Pittsburgh to inspect a metallic structure that was blinding me from across the street.
There were several wind-powered fans (the old school “watch your finger!” variety, rusty metal blades and all) strung up in a sort of grid. Beneath them, a large painted plywood sign read “WIND.”
Below that, a website: www.missionsmars.com.
My interest had been sufficiently piqued. I got to work and typed in the address, which lead me to the blog for M.A.R.S., aka the Milwaukee Art Reform Syndicate. What is this shadowy organization, and what are they doing with rusty fans in Walker’s Point? (The fans have since been removed, leaving that particular corner as depressingly empty and gravely as it was before.)
I found that it was a collaborative art organization of sorts, and that it hosted monthly themed art events encompassing a variety of media, somewhat on par with The Parachute Project.
Based in the historic Pritzlaff Building, M.A.R.S. began hosting events earlier this spring, inviting visual artists, clothing designers, gourmands and everything in between to get involoved.
Previous events invited participants to explore the human form, and concepts like meta-modernism via their medium of choice, resulting in large-scale interactive art, video and music, in an effort to engage viewers (or in this case, tasters, listeners, wearers…) and also promote local creativity.
I got in touch with Aaron Hoenisch and Ken Tousignant, M.A.R.S. founders and also co-owners of Invidia Design, a funky and eco-conscious design firm in Walker’s Point, to ask them a few questions about the arts group and this mysterious “WIND” event.
What exactly is M.A.R.S.?
Like many in the Milwaukee community, we were starving for a more interactive artistic experience. In our daily dealings with people in our industry, we felt there were not enough outlets or venues for artists — or creatives in general — to showcase their talents. The Milwaukee Art Reform Syndicate was created to fill that void.
By promoting and producing events that challenge the audience by pushing the limits of a typical “gallery” experience, M.A.R.S. collaborates with an expansive group of local creatives to promote the unity of art and life — “life is art.” Everything from culinary art to local business, to music and entertainment, fine art, sculpture — M.A.R.S. accesses all to deliver the best creative experience possible.
What is the theme for July?
On July 23 & 24, we are hosting WIND — an attempt to explore one of Earth’s most powerful natural forces. There will be fine arts (paintings and sculpture), live performance (dance, music and video installations), culinary and beverage artisans, and interior visual design. For this event, we have carefully chosen artists who have a specific passion for the theme and its artistic expression. That passion will be exhibited in a two-night event that will immerse participants in a unique expression of the force of wind.
For this event, M.A.R.S. has joined forces with BeGoodGoLocal.org, an organization, like M.A.R.S., committed to sustainability, promoting social justice and all good things local. On Friday, there will be a Progressive “PoGoLocal” Parade (yes, with pogo sticks) through the Third Ward beginning at Club Charlie’s at 6:30 p.m. and ending at the WIND event at the Pritzlaff around 9 p.m..
The purpose of the rally is to promote local business and raise awareness of all things good — all things local.
Design Within Reach, Live Artists Studio, Edelman Studios/RH Photography, Studio E.T., abstract artist Archie Andros, painter Brittany Eader, photographer David Schrimpf, Great Lakes Distillery, Project M Boutique, The Milwaukee Cupcake Company and many other local businesses are listed as participants for WIND.
Next month’s mission? String Theory, featuring 50 14-ft puppets. Let that sink in for a second.
The Milwaukee Art Syndicate’s WIND event takes place at the Pritzlaff Building on July 23 & 24 from 6-11 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information or to find out how you can get involved, check out M.A.R.S. online.