Judith Ann Moriarty

MARN Mentors exhibit at Gallerie M

By - Jun 24th, 2011 04:00 am
Artist Fahimeh Vahdat in front of her censored painting

Artist Fahimeh Vahdat stands veiled with her censored painting. Photo Art Elkon

The third Milwaukee Artists Resource Network Mentor exhibition opened June 17 in the InterContinental Hotel’s Gallerie M with the requisite reception and a nice smattering of the local art community and its supporters in attendance. Pairing local mentors with local mentees, the point of the non-profit’s efforts is to give each emerging artist a chance to exhibit alongside an experienced mentor while learning how to present work in a professional manner.

M is a swell little gallery (slick and modern), a few steps up from the main lobby, but when I arrived on June 21 (after reading a press release regarding the event), I was surprised to see the work hanging without labels or information of any kind. Four days into an announced exhibition, and no labels?

Leah Schreiber's "Sensation of Turning"

Leah Schreiber’s “Sensation of Turning”

So I returned for their reception on Thursday, June 23. The adventure caught fire as I studied mentee Leah Schreiber’s “Sensation of Turning,” a re-imagining of filmstrips depicting organs of balance, culled from a 1918 medical textbook. The artist saw me taking notes and introduced herself, then took me to her mentor Fahimeh Vahdat’s piece, a vertical flush of blood-red netting hung like a curtain over a drawing. Unfortunately, the drawing wasn’t visible as the powers that be required that it turn its back on the audience. Vahdat, an Iranian deeply concerned with all rights (but in this work, the rights of Iranian women), made lemonade out of lemons when she spoke to the packed gallery about social concerns and the role of artists. She then positioned herself in front of her work and stood with her back to the audience for 15 minutes. It was interesting to observe who continued to mill about, and who stood still and silent, possibly wondering what to do. If I decided to stroll across the gallery during her minutes of homage, for example, would I be turning my back on Iran?  It did occur to me that Vahdat perhaps created a drawing that she knew would be objectionable to the hotel. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Because of the hotel’s objections, her work gained a kind of instant fame. I saw a few folks trying to catch a glimpse of the “offensive” drawing, which was in reality a form drawing of a nude woman, arms up in supplication, a symbol of the oppression faced by women in Iran.

There were grumblings in the gallery about names misspelled in the handsome catalog and someone told me the request for label information didn’t even reach the artists until well after the announced opening date. But glitches aside (non-profits are frequently understaffed), it’s a show worth visiting. When mentor/sculptor Richard Taylor introduced me to his mentee, Beata Chrzanowska, they were standing in front of her small wire sculpture. and a video wherein the sculpture is teased into moving to music. I was charmed. Taylor credited his mentee with formulating the ideas, a very generous gesture on the part of an artist whose monumental sculptures grace our town. Ms. Chrzanowska flashed a tattoo on her left arm…. an inked image of a geometric sculpture.

Beata Chrzanowska's tattoo

Beata’s tattoo

The exhibition closes July 17.

Marn Mentor Exhibit
Gallerie M
139 E. Kilbourn Ave

Categories: Art

0 thoughts on “MARN Mentors exhibit at Gallerie M”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m surprised her drawing was controversial. A nude is not new and her pieces are not lewd, they’re evocative. They’re beautiful in their pathos. I don’t know the details, of who objected to what, but I’m surprised.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good review. I’m not surprised in the least that Vahdat’s installation had mixed reviews. Beata and Leah’s works were the best!

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