Catherine Jozwik
Art Scene

Bay View’s Unique Art School

The Art School on KK is a non-profit that helps students of all skill levels.

By - Oct 14th, 2019 04:15 pm
Andy and Lisa Pilarski. Photo courtesy of The Art School.

Andy and Lisa Pilarski. Photo courtesy of The Art School.

With a new home, Bay View’s The Art School, a nonprofit organization located at 2654 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is in an ideal position to help its students hone their artistic skills.

“We’re really excited to be more visible now,” says Art School owner Lisa Pilarski. In 2014, Pilarski and her husband, Andy, founded The Art School in a duplex on Herman Street. “We had very little space (in our original location) and the space we had was divided up.” In March, the couple moved their school into a 1,400-square-foot space in a 1907 building on Kinnickinnic previously occupied by many businesses (most recently a hair salon). The new space is not only larger, it has historic charm, with tin ceilings and a wood floor. “We feel at home here,” Pilarski adds.

The Pilarskis are experienced artists and teachers. Lisa, who holds a BFA from St. Mary’s of Notre Dame, has taught art classes in art supply stores and at retirement communities. Andy holds a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the Pacific Northwestern College of Art. He currently works as a full-time instructor of illustration at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). Former Illinois residents, the couple met over ten years ago and decided to move to Milwaukee to open their art school.

“We felt Milwaukee was the best setting where we could plant our roots,” Lisa Pilarski says.

The Art School offers instruction in drawing, painting and sculpture classes for ages 8 and over, for students of all skill levels. Unlike traditional art classes, students working in different media work alongside each other, which can help provide inspiration for art projects. Lisa Pilarski says she and Andy provide “individualized instruction” to students. “We do give a lot of guidance—we tailor each student’s experience individually,” she notes. “We try to be as accessible as we can possibly be.”

To fit students’ often busy work and home life, The Art School offers individual or eight-week classes, which focus on building skills such as color composition and shading. The cost is $25 per two-hour class or $160 for eight classes, which can be taken twice a week for four weeks or once a week for eight weeks. “We have an open enrollment that is ongoing,” says Pilarski. “We wanted more people to be able to have that (creative) outlet and flexible schedule.”

The school hosts student art exhibits each Bay View Gallery Night. “It’s refreshing to be able to welcome people and have big shows of our student work,” says Pilarski. In the future, The Art School would like to host workshops held by local artists on topics such as printmaking, specialized sculpture and costuming. Pilarski added that she would also like to hold figure drawing sessions that would be open to the public.

The Art School founder feels that, with hard work and dedication, anyone can improve their art skills. “No one is born knowing how to do this stuff,” Pilarski says. “This is something you can learn if you’re willing.”

Art Events and Gallery Openings

Monday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.:

Sabrosa Café, 3216 S. Howell Ave., will host an artist reception for painter Jennifer Espenscheid and her current exhibit, which will be on display at the café through December.

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.:

The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) presents Four Seasons of American Landscapes, a gallery talk with Abert Family Curator of American Art Brandon Ruud about 19th and 20th landscape painters and their use of color and light. The talk will be held in the museum’s Godfrey American Art Wing, Level 2, Gallery K230 and is free with MAM admission and free for members.

Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.:

The Charles Allis Art Museum hosts a walking tour of the mansion and its impressive art collection. The tour is free for members and free with museum admission.

Thursday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.:

Jeffrey Clancy: Measured Misalignments, an exhibit showcasing the work of UW-Madison professor of Art in Metalsmithing and Jewelry, opens at the Villa Terrace with an artist reception. Misaligned Measurements will be on display through January 26.


-Mythic Menageries, an exhibit fusing fantasy with nature, opens at the Tory Folliard Gallery. Mythic Menageries features the work of nearly a dozen artists, including Fred Stonehouse, Tom Uttech, Flora Langlois and Anne Siems.

Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight:

The Monotonous Life of Roy G. Biv, a colorful exhibit curated by local artists Anna Rodriguez and Amanda Stein, will be held at the Crawford Collective, 2525 E. Crawford Ave. in St. Francis. The event will include performance art and New-Zealand inspired cuisine from food truck Drift.

Friday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.:

The East Side’s Black Cat Alley, a public display of striking murals by local artists, will host an outdoor party between East Kenilworth Place and East Ivanhoe Place. The free event for ages 21 and over will feature music by DJ Fuzzy Logic, a cash bar with mixed drinks from Cutwater Cocktails and Bauhaus Brewery beer, and merchandise by local artisans.

Friday and Saturday:

Gallery Night and Day MKE will showcase a number of local artists in citywide venues such as restaurants, hotels, art galleries, and more. Visit for details.

Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.:

The South Milwaukee Art Walk, an event featuring art, live music, food and drink plus local vendors, will be held on the 900 and 1000 blocks of Milwaukee Avenue. Avenue Coffee House, Gecko Leather Works, and Studio 919 are among businesses that will participate in the art walk.

Last Chance: Exhibit Closing

Go Wild! A Study of Plants and Animals closes Saturday at Scout Gallery, 1104 W. Historic Mitchell St.

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