Saturday, January 22, 2011

Frigid Night makes for easy Gallery hopping in Milwaukee!

After the optimistic report Wednesday evening from the Cultural Alliance on the state of the “Creative Industries” in Southeastern Wisconsin (see previous post) it was especially rewarding to see the creative spirit alive and well among individual artists last night. Fortunately for the few of us who braved below zero wind chills, it was easy to breeze through normally crowded hubs like the Marshall Building. Unfortunately for the artists and galleries – and the missing art lovers – a plethora of diverse and worthy art went unseen. I hope you all went out on Saturday to make up for it! There was too much to see in one evening, so I went back for seconds myself.

There was so much good work on display all over that I’m going to break with my own routine and give only brief snapshots and one-liners in an attempt to provide a sense of the extraordinary diversity I managed to see. I hope to encourage y’all to extend gallery night and day into a month or two of visits! I invite you to click on the links to the galleries and artists to flesh out my brief observations.

Architecture of Necessity
I started my “gallery night” early on Friday afternoon at Inova. I was delighted to have the chance to speak one-on-one with Cuban artist Ernesto Oroza and to get a personal tour by gallery director Nicholas Frank. Oroza’s work shows how the people of Havana  adapt to social and economic realities there. I liked it all, but the surprisingly elegant goblets made out of cast off plastic beverage containers were especially stunning.

Tory Folliard has curated a show appropriately called “Color Vibrations.” Its very distinctive bodies of work include supersaturated landscapes by Harold Gregor, restrained color field abstractions by Mark Ottens, and extravagantly elaborate ceramic and mixed media sculptures by Albert Benedict some of which look like wild combinations of bird bath and baptismal font.

MIAD is showing an excellent dual exhibit. “Tiny: Art from Microscopes...” demonstrates the power of nano-photography to transcend scientific underpinnings and become aesthetic. Who knew how beautiful impossibly tiny things could be? Also “Visual Analogies…” a collaborative installation by Michiko Itatani and Bergitta Weimer.

You gotta love spunk or what’s the point of being creative? For the full gallery night experience I like to step off the beaten track. Sometimes I find unexpected gems and last night things were consistently hitting the right notes. At Atrio, jewelry store on Water St., I met photographer David Schrimpf. I found his nighttime explorations with a camera moody and captivating.

Next door, at Gallery H2O/Soup’s On I always find a nice mélange of visual arts and, of course, Mary’s great soups. (I chose Packer chili this time – yum!) Shout out to Steven Yeo and Tara Bogart, who have work there.

Reginald Baylor
End Freeway - A Love Story...
  The Marshall Building – of course! I can’t do this place justice, but don’t miss these:
The self portrait show at Elaine Erickson.
The “Winter Chapel,” an installation of ceramics by Linda Wervey Vitamvas at the Portrait Society Gallery.
Merge Gallery’s latest tour de force installation that plays off Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon: “there’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.”
Reginal Baylor is always coming up with intriguing new work in his inimitable style.
The Fine Art Gallery, Gallery 218, Light Ideas Gallery, studio pottery – there’s something for everyone at the Marshall Building!

A group show at Katie Gingrass is especially exquisite decked out in “White.” My favorite was Jeff Margolin’s ceramic sculptures.

Adolf Rosenblatt
The Oriental Pharmacy...
Portraits by Virgi Driscoll gave me a welcome reason to revisit an old favorite: the Rosenblatt Gallery. I fall in love with the old familiar (now long gone) Oriental Pharmacy counter every time I venture upstairs. At nearby Gallery 326 I finally found a lively crowd as well as a fine photography show by Jessica Kaminski called “Layered Journey.”

I finally made it out of the Third Ward to visit the Pfister where Katie Musolf has been ensconced as Artist in Residence for nearly a year. Her studio nook off their main hallway is filled with drawings and paintings in various stages of completion. It’s definitely worth a visit before she packs it all up in a couple months. The quality of Katie’s output alone creates a natural draw, but in person she is so delightful that it’s easy to see why people line up to sit for their portraits in her cozy studio.

After that I headed south. It was closing night for a nice little show of non-objective abstractions called “Bridging the Gap” at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center Gallery on South Second St.

Kyle Talbott
at BYO Studio
I discovered an enticing venue on KK in Bayview called the BYO Studio and Lounge. This place was packed – with people and art! I will need to revisit this in daylight.

After that it was late and I beat it home, but I went back downtown today to check out the Pritzlaff Building and was glad I did. Talk about diverse! People there who I knew included Shelby Keefe, Frank Juarez, and my neighbor, Jack Lake. Plenty of unfamiliar work, mostly paintings in a wide variety of styles, made it a pleasant discovery. This temporary group exhibit called “The Best from Open Canvas” organized by Good Knight Promotions made it clear that Milwaukee is so bursting with talent that established galleries just can’t handle it all!

Sally Duback
from the Best of Open Canvas
And to think, I just picked places at random. You might have gone out and found an equally dazzling array of artists in other Milwaukee galleries.


  1. It looks like Cream City is coming of age artistically. Charlie

  2. Hey Eddee, Thanks for letting folks know about this post on!Us artsy writer types gotta stick together. :)