Monochromatic
January 9 – February 24, 2001
Works in gray and silver by Milwaukee-area artists, curated by Paula Schulze.

An Exhibition featuring works in gray and silver by five area artists: Lisa M. Bergh, Douglas Holst, Hai-Chi Jihn, Robert L. Johnson, and Scott Roberts. Each artist works within his or her own vision and medium but all share a formal elegance in their work and a deliberate and often laborious involvement with process.

Lis Bergh embraces the idea of line in an installation piece fabricated of waxed string. Her small charcoal drawings concern themselves with marks and mark making. She has exhibited her work in the Southwest and California. Abstract painter Douglas Holst explores visual relationships within the picture plane and steps away from his usual colorful palette to work in shades of gray. His work has been exhibited widely throughout Wisconsin and in the Midwest, and has won a number of awards. Hai-Chi Jihn creates beautiful and painstakingly worked silver pieces, which she calls “cross cultural stories” that allude to and investigate rites of passage, and the devotion, struggle and bitter sweetness of mother hood in Asian society. Her use of repetitive images and labor intensive techniques evoke the endlessness and tediousness of women’s chores.

Robert Johnson composes dark and intimate photographs, working within a narrow range of values to produce images that evoke a sense of solitude and loss, of all that is unattainable and fleeting. Multimedia artist Scott Roberts concerns himself with American “geek” culture, exploring the science fiction and gaming communities in which so-called geeks seek acceptance and nurturance. Roberts’ piece models a Tolkein-esque battlefield of fantasy figures, both men and monster, in aluminum foil.

 

Robin Starbuck: This Is Not a Game
Raoul Deal: Reinventing Jimmy Green
March 19 – April 14, 2001

Two installation artists reflect on dignity and identity in American society. Starbuck exposes a “pervasive consumer interest in violence,” while Deal looks at American culture after living in Mexico for a decade.

Artist Statement: “This is Not a Game” is an installation piece I have designed specifically for the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts. It includes a large mural, small sculptures on stands, and a surround sound audio work. The title “This is Not a Game” has parallel meanings. Derived from the artist Rene Magritte’s famous painting of a pipe, “L’usage de la parole,” on which the artist wrote “This is Not a Pipe,” “This is Not a Game” similarly appears to be just that which it denies. The mural includes cartoon guns enclosed in a black painted cage being observed by painted figures on bleachers in the background. The guns are aimed at 13 rubber rats on pedestals in the middle of the gallery. By implication the exhibit appears to be a gigantic game, but then, as Magritte indicated, this is a work of art…limited to depiction. The title simultaneously provides a warning of the dark side of American psyche, where random killings, school violence, and the degradation of individual dignity by virtue of media, have become spectator sports.

The investment in my work as an artist has always been to expose violence in America as a condition resulting from a nest of circumstances; not the least of which is a pervasive consumer interest in violent games and narrative. The novelist, James Lee Burke, once said, “No level of violence occurs without a society somehow sanctioning it.” I couldn’t agree more. – Robin Starbuck

Artist Bio: Raoul Deal was born in Topeka, Kansas in 1956. Between 1974 and 1978 he studied painting at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign campus, where he received a BFA in Visual Arts. In 1985 he was selected for an Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist’s Fellowship, and four years later, he moved to Mexico City. There he completed his graduate work in painting at the National University of Mexico’s National School of Plastics Arts (UNAM/ENAP División de Posgrado), with a thesis entitled Mexican Popular Culture and the Plastic Arts, a Monograph by a Foreign Artist. After receiving his master’s in 1992, he moved to Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. There he was a member of the art faculty at the Universidad Veracruzana where he taught painting, drawing, and composition until 1998. He now lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he teaches Foundations Drawing at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and works in the Milwaukee Public Schools System. As a UWM Artist in Residence this semester, he is working with students in a course/ project entitled Multicultural Installation Art. He has participated in over twenty group exhibits, most recently “Artistic Observers in Latin America- the Cultural Vantage Point” at the Crossman Gallery at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, in 1999. Read James Auer’s review at JS Online.

 

Radioactive Biohazard
April 20-June 2, 2001

Hunter O’Reilly’s artwork has been shown internationally including galleries in New York, San Francisco, England, Japan, Indiana and Wisconsin. Her artwork has been featured in 15 publications including five covers and on four television shows.

Hunter creates abstract oil paintings using vivid colors influenced by fluorescent staining of DNA and protein in the laboratory. The shapes of cells growing adjacent to each other visible only under the microscope influences the lines and patterns in her artwork. One line or shape will frequently define more than one figure, cell or molecule in her oil paintings. In certain parts of her paintings, she creates textures using an impasto technique while in other areas she blends the paint to a smooth finish. In nature one surface such as human skin appears smooth to the naked eye, but is comprised of many crevices visible under the microscope.

Artist/geneticist Hunter O’Reilly, with Electric Eye Neon, bridges the worlds of art and science in striking DNA-inspired oil paintings, photographs and other works that combine to form the substance of this laboratory installation. This Project creatively addresses biotechnology issues that link science and society. Through her work she shows us the beauty of microbes, cells and DNA, and challenges us to seriously ponder both the risk and promise of biotechnology. According to Hunter O’Reilly, “Biotechnology will be a part of our daily lives in this millennium. From the genetically engineered foods we will eat to miracle cures through gene therapy, biotechnology may well be as significant in this century as mechanization was in the last century. Yet biotechnology bewilders and frightens a large portion of the population. This exhibit will present the promise and horror of genetics and biotechnology on a visceral level, cutting through the technical jargon, and dramatizing biotechnology, leading to an intuitive understanding…through the universal language, art.”

 

Annual Members Show
June 8 – July 13, 2001

 

Regroup: Marna Goldstein Brauner and Graduates of the UWM Fiber Arts Program
September 14 – October 20, 2001

Marna Goldstein Brauner has been a major influence on fiber arts in southeastern Wisconsin. Her students have enjoyed a considerable degree of success and this exhibit reunites her with Lisa D’Innocenzo, Joann M. Engelhart, Laura Goldstein, Joseph Smoot and Jan-Ru Wan in a group show.

“The artists in this show, for example, incorporate an unpredictable range of materials: dragon fly wings, rhubarb leaves, grass seed, fake eyelashes and horsehair (to name a few).”

Marna Goldstein Brauner has been the driving force and a full-time faculty person within UWM’s fiber area for 12 years. The five artists in this exhibition all earned MFAs under her guidance. What unites them is not so much Brauner’s imprimatur, but the fact that all of their work incorporates interactions with humble, everyday objects. Each artist, in very different ways, layers and stitches the real and mundane within the conceptual language of art making. There is a place in each artist’s work where the quotidian and the esoteric combine to offer a new reading of the common place.”- Debra Brehmer

Bio: Marna Goldstein Brauner crafts complex fiber works that combine aspects of traditional textile production, including screen printing and surface design, and infuses them with a markedly rich blend of cultural imagery. She has traveled extensively in search of distinctive fiber works and has researched the traditions of textile production, traditional handcraft, and global cultural resources in the United States, Mexico, India, Southeast Asia, Great Britain and Italy. Brauner’s enthusiasm for mixing diverse cultural sources into the long history of textile traditions manifests itself in the elaborate, layered pieces she produces. In addition, she has introduced an ever-increasing number of students to the wonderful variety of possibilities in creative, textile-based art forms.

Bio: Laura Goldstein came to the department with a somewhat conventional interest in textiles and pattern after traveling to weaving villages in Thailand one year and realizing her heart was in fibers and their history. By the time she graduated in 1996, her work had become anything but conventional. Since completing her degree, Goldstein has continued to make art and also has launched her own textile based manufacturing business, Grotta and Co. which produces hand-dyed and printed scarves, hand bags and table runners which she sells through high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus. The company is actually a revival of a company her great- grandfather started in 1890.

Bio: Joann Engelhart came to the graduate program after working independently as a graphic designer. She has also taught art at the high school level. During an extremely challenging year of personal crisis when she felt her entire world crumbling, Engelhart stumbled upon the UWM catalog, and saw some fiber classes listed. She had been making quilts and was interested in learning to color and print her own textiles. Once she arrived in the art department and saw Brauner’s work, she knew “This was it.” Engelhart notes of her MFA experience: “I went to school just for me, to change my life. After age 50 you become disempowered in the world. I was 52 when I returned to school and it put me in touch with so much, like computer technology.” Engelhart now teaches in the art department at UWM and continues to explore new methods of working on fabric, such as utilizing computer imagery that can be printed directly on fabric with a special dye printer…

Bio: Lisa D’Innocenzo, who graduated in 1999, like Brauner, employs vintage textiles in her work. But unlike Brauner, who is interested in the humble side of domesticity, D’Innocenzo likes the precious and fussy accoutrements of high society. She tends to work on a small scale, fastidiously stitching text and often adding horsehair to existing antique linen. D’ Innocenzo says she is interested in “people’s stories.” Currently, D’Innocenzo lives in the Chicago area with her husband and daughter. She maintains a studio at Contemporary Arts Workshop and also works as a bookseller and part-time teacher.

Bio: Jan-Ru Wan graduated in 1996 and now pursues her art in North Carolina. She tends to work on a larger scale, though says she is committed to textile art because of its “intimacy.” “Textiles are the basic materials in everyday life, in every household and close to all human beings,” she said. Wan’s work always references the body, often through subtly abstract means. Wan, who was born in Taiwan, says her work is influenced by her education in Taoism and Buddhism and by her experience in two very different cultures. Formally, these issues appear in her work by way of oppositions. She likes the tension created by combining hard and soft fabrics such as leather collars and silk organza, or busy imagery with quiet open spaces. Ultimately, she tries to put things in harmony. The art making process seems to act for her as a form of meditation and personal ritual, just as the age-old devotion to handwork generated a sense of peaceful order that permeated even the simplest piece of cotton.

Bio: Joseph Smoot, who graduated from the program in 1993, makes non-traditional garments, like a five-foot tall shirt covered with grass seed and lined with marigold blossoms. His work is bold, accessible and often simple in its form. He likes using seed and grasses to lend texture to his “clothing.” The idea of growth, of nature’s powerful ability to reproduce and sustain momentum, seems to mock the certain fragility of our aging human bodies. We leave behind the shells of our clothes. Smoot recontextualizes those shells. Inevitably, the grass and flowers consume the article of clothing and the human trace is lost under a mound of green. Smoot now lives in Oshkosh where he works as an artist and maintains large flower gardens. He is also the manager of a new Pier One Import store. This exhibition marks the first time this group of MFA textile grads has put their work together. –Debra Brehmer

 

9th Annual Dia de los Muertos Exhibition: Celebrating Life & Family
November 2 – December 1, 2001
Sponsored by Miller Brewing Company.  Music by Voces de Mexico, slide presentatin on history of Dia, spoken word, adult craft classes and sugar skull-making demonstration.

City Streets by Photographer Ron Zabler
December 14, 2001 – January 5, 2002

Ron Zabler documents the increasingly fragile urban Milwaukee environment in this series of black-and-white photographs.

Most people in Milwaukee know Ron Zabler from his professional work as a commercial photographer. Over time he has established an excellent reputation for his virtuoso printing of color photographs. What many do not know is that Zabler has quietly accumulated a fine collection of his own work: exploring texture, light and color by experimenting with both equipment and techniques. For City Streets, his first major solo exhibition in Milwaukee, Zabler has eloquently documented the increasingly fragile urban environment, choosing as a central theme vintage architecture that is decaying, and so, rapidly disappearing or being replaced. These places and scenes are familiar- the corner grocery store, the neighborhood barbershop, a Milwaukee bungalow strung with Christmas lights. Zabler, with his meticulous sense of composition and careful craftsmanship, expertly captures their fragility and stark beauty in this series of black-and-white silver gelatin prints.

Despite the use of simple manual-focus cameras to make what he calls “random individual studies,” the photos in City Streets nonetheless exhibit Zabler’s conscious recognition of formal design properties and carefully chosen camera angles. Together, they form a cohesive body of work composed of textured portraits of places and times that are quickly passing. In this digital age, where physical prints seem almost as fragile as the places they depict, Ron Zabler still painstakingly hand-prints each negative, creating sophisticated images of the urban landscape that grip the viewer with both their richness and their reality. –E. Michael Flanagan

I selected the photographs for City Streets from over 200 black-and-white images taken from late 1999 through the end of 2000- the turn of the century and beginning of a new millennium. Through individual studies, I have attempted to capture the unique urban landscape of Milwaukee at this particular moment in time. It is not meant to be a concise, methodical documentary, but rather a spontaneous exploration of the gritty feel of these streets and neighborhoods.

I often say that I am a frustrated painter- I’m fascinated by texture and work hard to bring that our in my photography. Photographing the city provided an incredible opportunity to do this. Traveling randomly through Milwaukee neighborhoods, the work became addictive, as I pushed my film and equipment further and daily watched the human and physical texture- the personality – of the city unfold. I soon found that I was always being surprised by a city landscape that is as texturally fascinating as that of the rural environment I am more accustomed to working with.

My goal as a photographer is to take what I see- the light, the contrast, the texture, the whole “feel” of a place- and to communicate that in my work so that others can also see it. For City Streets, I experimented with simple, mid-century photographic technology, using two amateur cameras from the 1950s, hoping to achieve a softer, less that perfect look. With hand-held Kodak Duraflex II (using 620 film, which had to be special ordered) and Agfa (using120 film) cameras, I roamed Milwaukee neighborhoods for just over a year, challenging myself to create photographs that portray the particular mood and character of urban life in a Midwestern city at the end of the 20th century.

The result is a series of images revealing a cultural landscape that we often take for granted, or perhaps, busy with our own lives and ambitions, we never truly see. The urban landscape is a product of many forces and is always changing. The photos in City Streets represent only a brief moment in the ongoing life of Milwaukee. Some of the places depicted, like the old Milwaukee County Stadium, have already disappeared; while others have been altered as the buildings change hands and renewal projects move forward. I see those that remain as pieces of a puzzle created by entrepreneurs each involved in their own struggle but each also contributing to the great diversity that exists in neighborhoods throughout the city. –Ron Zabler Milwaukee, December 2001. Read James Auer’s review at JS Online.