Kat Murrell

A powerful “Quiet” at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts

By - Jul 29th, 2011 04:00 am
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Melanie Pankau's "Fluctuations" series at WPCA

Melanie Pankau, “Fluctuations” Series (2010) .Graphite on drafting film, 72″ x 144”. Photos courtesy of WPCA.

Standing in front of Melanie Pankau’s Fluctuations series, curator Josie Osborne reflected on the three enormous works – each 12 feet of drafting film curved into a parabola, hanging from the ceiling on translucent lines. They are, as Osborne described, “a powerful voice for quiet.”

“Quiet” is also the name of the exhibition at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, opening on Friday, July 29. Walking with Osborne through the exhibition of works by Pankau, Tyler Meuninck, and Kevin Giese on a gray and rainy morning was a study in contrast between the flat tone of the sky and pavement outside, and the gentle buoyancy of soft, natural colors and textures inside.

A sense of imminent completion was palpable as final adjustments to lighting and other details were underway. We paused to admire Pankau’s work, fully arranged and luminously spotlighted.

Osborne revealed that there were originally going to be more than the three works in this compact room, but adding additional pieces started to feel crowded. It seems a good decision. After all, the aim of the exhibition is not necessarily to show as much work as possible, but to connect these pieces with a feeling, or as she writes in the exhibition essay, to “offer the viewer an opportunity for a quiet, contemplative experience far from the madness of the world outside.”

One doesn’t feel much quietude at a supermarket, for example. But here, there is space for contemplation, for breathing.

The front gallery charms with a variety of two- and three-dimensional pieces. Tyler Meuninck’s paintings follow a path that treads reassuringly between abstraction and recognizable forms. The edges of shapes are brushy, softening up the industrial landscape that lies at the heart of the reference points to reality. Meuninck relocated to Milwaukee from Indianapolis, and in the current climate, it’s all too easy to see these as a sort of industrial Midwestern wasteland of lost and abandoned potential. The hazy shapes anesthetize this somber view.

The lasting nature of a Midwestern landscape forms the raw material for Kevin Giese’s work. Giese is a skilled woodworker, and as noted by Osborne, “fine craft has always been an important part of his work.” A slender, serpentine carving perches along a wall, and inside the hollowed concave are delicate stones, reclaimed as a byproduct of Army Corps of Engineers projects on the Mississippi River. Geise collects them by sifting through sand and dirt. The making of his art is a meticulous, careful process, as is the installation.

It takes a moment to realize, but the 14-foot reeds of Teacher, Teacher that reach the gallery ceiling seem to be supported by nothing, so natural do they seem in their upright, strong stalks.

Kevin Giese's "Teacher, Teacher" on view at WPCA

Kevin Giese, “Teacher Teacher” (2011) . Joined reeds and wood.

Despite its name, the concept of Quiet is not a meek one. Osborne notes that quietude is something different than silence, and shapes this exhibition as one that is rejuvenating, that is “without urgency.” There is a lot of chaos in the world, a lot of tension that swirls around us. Whether it is anxiety that touches from near or afar, this exhibition is an excellent antidote. Or at least, a reprieve.

Quiet opens July 29 and remains on view through September 3, 2011 at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts (839 S. 5th Street). This exhibition is funded in part by the Cream City Foundation’s Joseph R. Pabst LGBT Infrastructure Fund.

0 thoughts on “A powerful “Quiet” at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kat: elegant words about elegant art. Geise’s work never calls attention to itself…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I can’t wait to see this exhibition!

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