Michael Holloway
Art Scene

Not Every One Is Shut Down

The art museums are closed but some art galleries are still open.

By - Mar 17th, 2020 06:34 pm
Guest looks at works by Laurie Hogin at Tory Folliard Gallery. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Guest looks at works by Laurie Hogin at Tory Folliard Gallery. File photo by Jack Fennimore.

With the highly-contagious COVID-19 virus dominating headlines daily, it should come as no surprise that most businesses are temporarily closing their doors, restaurants and bars have switched over to take-out orders only, and large events have all been canceled. So what about Milwaukee’s visual art scene?

Following protocol laid out by Gov. Tony Evers and more recently by President Donald Trump to limit social gatherings, most museums have decided to temporarily close their doors to the public. The Milwaukee Art Museum is closed to the public and all events through April 14 have been canceled. The Wisconsin Museum of Art has also temporarily shut its doors to the public until April 7, canceling or postponing all exhibits, events and educational programs in the meantime. Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art is closed through April 10.

The Lynden Sculpture Garden has canceled all its events in March and closed off its main building to the public, but visitors can still walk the grounds (which have an incredible selection of world class sculptures, easily the best sculpture garden in the state) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Being a hybrid between a hotel and an art exhibit, St. Kate’s Art Hotel remains open, although visitors won’t be able to access the hotel’s bar or restaurant.

Some organizations are taking to the internet as a means to adapt to the social distancing. MAM encourages those who are interested to sign up for their eNewsletter and follow along on its social media pages to “continue to experience our rich creative history, explore topics of interest to you, and have unexpected moments — with art.”

MOWA is taking a similar approach.“We’ll be taking to social media over the next few weeks, but we also have a backlog of research that we’ve been wanting to do on our collection, and we’ll be making that available on social media and our website as we move forward,” says MOWA Executive Director Laurie Winters.

In an effort to keep MOWA’s interactive events available to the public, a video series replicating the museum’s popular Studio Saturdays sessions will feature a teacher inviting viewers to follow along in creating a variety of art projects.

“The materials required will all be things available from home, and it will give parents another option for something to do with their children while they practice social distancing at home,” Winters says.

The Lynden Sculpture Garden is currently calling for supply donations to send out to a list of artists. A statement on its website reads: “There are many in our community who are suffering as a result of this pandemic, and we’d like to call particular attention to the artists who support themselves through school residencies who have suddenly and completely lost their livelihoods. In the coming days, we will be compiling resources for local artists and sending them out through our artist e-list. If you have any leads, please let us know. If you’d like to join the e-list, send your e-mail our way.”

Art galleries, as opposed to museums, generally don’t attract large gatherings (except for an exhibit’s opening). The Tory Folliard Gallery’s website notes it is still open, the Green Gallery is open by appointment only, and many other galleries have no message up on their websites, but appear to be open. You’d be well-advised to double check the old-fashioned way, by calling the gallery.

As for the artists themselves, many are currently unable to work their full-time day job, so commissioning work from a local favorite during this time is one of the most direct ways to support Milwaukee’s art community. With updates on the COVID-19 pandemic occurring every day, it’s possible these closings and abbreviated schedules could last even longer than April, so if you love art, this is a very good time to provide support in any way you can.

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