Young Art Entrepreneur Thinks Big
Josh Hintz takes business approach to two galleries for emerging artists he runs.
In recent years, Milwaukee has seen a handful of young professionals, dubbed “art-preneurs,” who are opening galleries. Josh Hintz, 29, is among this ambitious group, but his approach is a little different.
Hintz certainly has the art credentials: he’s a graduate (in 2012) of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. But it was his work in the business world, as a store manager for Cousins Subs, that helped him gain the needed experience to run his galleries, he says.
Hintz’s idea was to think bigger, opening a bigger space that combines both exhibit space and studios for artists which gives them an affordable space to work and gives him regular rental income flowing into the business. Hintz also promises each of those artists a chance to be featured in at least two shows a year.
Hintz opened Var Gallery and Studios, a 5,800-square-foot-space at 634 S. 2nd St., in 2013, and then went even bigger in 2018 by opening a 20,000-square-foot space at 423 W. Pierce St. that’s called, a bit cheekily, Var West Gallery.
The idea is to create a gallery that is “comfortable and inviting, so anyone can walk in and not feel like they don’t belong,” Hintz says. While that’s the goal with both galleries, “the Var West building offered larger studio spaces and two potential gallery spaces to explore exhibiting national and international artists,” he notes.
Both galleries highlight a variety of artists, ranging “from contemporary to experimental contemporary,” Hintz adds. “We want to make sure to continue to focus and build on the symbiotic relationship between the emerging community in Milwaukee and the artists we bring in from around the world.”
Var Gallery regularly hosts open mic nights and performances by local musicians. Var West also features a full bar, serving coffee drinks, wine, beer and cocktails.
Hintz says his plans for both galleries include displaying work “that is challenging and relevant,” and continuing to represent a significant number of international artists. “I’d like to continue to build opportunity for them, as well as make Var a more active portal for art buyers in the community,” he says.
The gallery owner is bullish on the city’s art scene; he sees it as thriving and continuing to move in a positive, more inclusive, direction. “The collective voice seems louder than ever, and as long as we continue to collaborate, Milwaukee will continue to grow (and be) noticed by others,” Hintz says.
Gallery Night & Day Returns
Summertime equals festival season in Milwaukee, but also the summer version of the twice-a-year Gallery Night and Day, the popular city-based art crawl that’s been run for more than three decades. It will take place this Friday and Saturday, July 19th and 20th. Participating galleries include Tory Folliard Gallery, 233 N. Milwaukee St., The Alice Wilds gallery, 900 S. 5th Street, Suite 102, Grohmann Museum, 1000 N. Broadway, Mobile Design Box, 753 N. 27th St., the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, 1360 N. Prospect Ave. Oil Gallery, 207 E. Buffalo St., the new-ish Scout Gallery,1104 W Mitchell St., and many others.
Gallery Night and Day visitors can enjoy many art-centric events around town. Events include an artist talk by Rafael Francisco Salas at the Portrait Society Gallery at 207 E. Buffalo St. #526 and walk-through of his current exhibit, “For God and Country.” The talk and walk-through will be accompanied by a reception featuring beer and country music.
The Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 839 S. 5th St., will hold a dance performance July 19 at 5:30 p.m. in conjunction with its latest exhibit, “7th Annual Youth Art Exhibition: Spills of Imagination” whose opening reception runs from from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. The exhibition will feature works by WPCA 2019 Summer Art Camp participants, in media such as fiber arts, ceramics, sculpture and printmaking.
And Frank Juarez Gallery, 207 E. Buffalo St #600, offers a curator and artist talk in conjunction with its latest exhibit, “SPARK: A Material Studios Exhibition,” at the gallery from 2 to 3 p.m. July 20.
Also This Week
–“Processed Views: Surveying the Industrial Landscape,” an exhibit by photographers Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lockman, opens Thursday at MOWA at St. John’s on the Lake, 1840 N. Prospect Ave., with a complimentary reception at 5:45 p.m. in the Museum Gallery. The reception will be followed by an artists’ talk at 6:30 p.m. in the Cultural Arts Center. According to a press release, Ciurej and Lockman reinterpret “the work of 19th century photographer Carleton Watkins, whose western landscapes were both aesthetic documentation and advertisements for the bounty of America. Ciurej and Lockman use mass-produced, processed foods such as marshmallows, potato chips, cereal and gelatin to recreate these landscapes.”
–The World View Art Center will present its second pop-up art exhibition on Thursday July 18th from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Entitled “Past Present Future!”, the exhibition will be held at Inspired Artisans, 505 N. 22nd Street (entrance at 2201 W. Clybourn St.), and includes works by renowned Milwaukee photographer Lyle Oberwise, by painter Brenda Smith, contemporary photographer Leroy Skoglund “and other significant voices of the Milwaukee art scene,” says World View founder and curator Erik Eide.
–“Imaginary Experiences: An Unserious Examination,” a solo exhibition by Demitra Copoulos, opens Friday at Grove Gallery, 832 S. 5th St. The exhibit will feature Copoulos’s large-scale, 3-D renderings in acrylic paint, inspired, we’re told, by questions of time, space and metaphysics.
Closing This Week
This Sunday will be your last chance to see the Haggerty Museum of Art’s current exhibit, Ralph Steiner’s “The City,” featuring the work of the early-mid 20th century industrial photographer Ralph Steiner, through July 31. For a review with photos of the show, see our story from April.
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