Brian Jacobson
Summer Portraits

Get on board the Art Bus

By - Aug 3rd, 2011 04:00 am

Gallery Night during summer in the city is not for the faint of heart.  Aside from the parking issues and crowded, hot stairwells of the Marshall Building, there are so many worthy participants across the metro area that getting around can be taxing.

But the intrepid Art Bus, brainchild of the ART Milwaukee consortium, makes the experience into something else altogether.  For a price, the mass transportation itinerary includes wine and beer service, live music by Roxie Beane, and plenty of amusing stops.

The evening began at the Iron Horse Hotel near dusk, as the setting sun came streaming through the bar where Charles Dwyer and Jerry Pfeil dominate the hallways with mixed media and paintings.

The first stop is in the retail space turned gallery-bar known as BYO Studio, along KK near Lincoln . The long space optimizes areas for artwork which can be enjoyed underneath a giant, almost undersea chandelier. Several of the artists work in abstract, containing movement as much as mood, which is good since BYO often opens up the backroom space for dance events.

Tripping up and down 1st (or Water St. depending on the span), we twice passed Art Milwaukee’s latest wall mural project near 1st and Pittsburgh, outside the Studio MKE southern wall. An ongoing project by the Couto Brothers, it’s a colorful and indigenous-laden work.

The next stop was of course in the Third Ward, dropping us off right in front of the Marshall Building.  In the near 90 minutes that you are there, it is hard to buzz through floors 5 through sub-1 to tour multiple galleries on each level.

While much of the exciting or dangerous works were in these small stops, the place of note for myself was Blutstein Brondino Fine Arts.  With as much space as the others in the building, they have plastered the walls with art — notably as an auction house on one hand and gallery on another. They look to be a powerful entry into the scene as the gallery model worldwide is changing.

I didn’t make it through too many other buildings in this stop, but mostly because I walked over to Big Frank’s Wiener Wagon for a worthy hot dog.

The bus, now burning on the inside with blue rope lights and tipsy patrons, steamed ahead to Riverwest and Art Bar — which became an unofficial checkpoint for spectators at the Riverwest 24 Hour Bike Race that night. The lively spaces contained “Earthbound” 2-D works by Organic Inspirations. Outside, amusingly were a few neighbor artists conducting their craft outside the adjacent bar and swore they didn’t know it was Gallery Night.

Refreshed, the bus trudged towards Redline Milwaukee and the height of the Iron Printmaker battle, where several teams of strictly non-artists attempted to make quick works on a theme, all the while conforming to a random hinderance (blindfolded, T-Rex arms, hopping or dancing).  The completed art was then humorously (but deftly) judged by Marc Tasman, Rick Sankowitz, and Mim Czarnik — with a team named the Milwaukee Turners taking home the prize.

We chronicled all of this in a full-length slideshow below, or you can visit the Flickr set here.



Categories: Art, Photo Gallery

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