2016-17 Featured Member Exhibition

David Powell

January 20 – April 1, 2017

We are honored to have artist David Powell as the second of four Featured Member Exhibition artists of 2016-17. His sculptural assemblage work perfectly balances cacophony and harmony, often with playfulness and humorous.

Artist Statement

dsc_7739My art work is rooted in the Dadaist and Surrealist Movements. Many of those artists have influenced me during my life but a few have had a continuing impact. There are elements of Marcel Duchamp’s “ready-mades” like “Fountain (by R. Mutt)”, a commercial urinal; Rene Magritte’s placing of oversized objects in rooms in his Renaissance like paintings; Wayne Thiebaud’s renderings in oils of deli cases and their contents: the boxes Joseph Cornell constructed of wood and filled with found objects, that inspired me to place images and objects of daily existence into boxes to endow them with honor and importance. Willis (Wis) Guthrie, my art professor at Carroll College (now University) introduced these artists to me. Wis Guthrie created sculptures from found objects that are witty and masterful. He was a student of Grant Wood and brought Wood’s strength of design to his students. Couple this back ground with years of being a pack rat; a love of history and theater; and objects of daily life are the vocabulary to create visual tales.

dsc_7770The conceptual meaning of my sculpture is revered memory for an object or a contrived feeling of reverence for that object. When we speak of the past it is often in hushed tones and a sense that we need to be filled with awe for that time and place. George Washington never told a lie and he was so strong that he threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River. This is folklore, not reality, but if I put an old colonial coin in a display case and label it the coin G. Washington tossed over the Potomac many would believe it to be the true coin. It would become a kind of reliquary. We love to put things in containers or museum cases and then view them as honored objects because if they are in a case they must be special. Until the Reformation there was competition among cities, princes and cathedrals for the best Christian relics. I relished the Reliquaries a trip to Tuscany allowed me to see in all their gilded glory. So with tongue in cheek I put things in cases or perhaps on stage to tell a little tale, provide visual entertainment, and elevate the object to a level of preciousness.

The branches that I use to support my boxes are reclaiming what I have constructed. The boxes are the spaces we create during our lifetimes. When the great temples of the Maya were discovered in the jungles of Central America the vines and trees had encircled and reclaimed the stones laid down by the Mayans. Nature returns space to its original condition. The branches are a reminder that the wood I shape, sand and finish were once a living organism rendered into a new form. I often pierce my boxes with metal rods the way an archaeologist pins broken pieces of object to reconstruct them to bring some order back from the ravages of time.

Each of my pieces is a little snippet of my thought process, a story constructed from the objects I find around me; a melding of bits of history, literature, drama, and biology: and part of my own little folktales.

IMG_10612016–17 Featured Member Exhibition juror

Each year, a juror selects four outstanding artists from the Annual Members Show to exhibit individually in their own Featured Member Exhibition. Each exhibition opens on Gallery Night and runs for about 10 weeks.

We are honored to have artist, educator, gallerist Mark Lawson as the juror of this year’s Featured Member Exhibition (FME) artists. Mark has been a champion of Milwaukee’s art community for decades. He is an instructor and Director of Galleries at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. He is also one of the founders and organizers of Riverwest Artist Association and Jazz Gallery, which for decades has been an important incubator of visual, performance art as well as jazz and experimental music. More about Mark Lawson here.

2016–17 Featured Member Exhibition artists and exhibition schedules

Amy Schmutte

Oct. 21 – Jan. 7, 2017

David Powell

Jan. 20 – April 8, 2017

Benjamin Fairly

April 21 – July 8, 2017

PJ Boylan

July 21 – Oct. 7, 2017

For info on the 2015-16 Featured Member Exhibition artists and jurors, click on image below.


2017-18 education and exhibition programming supported by:

Walker's Point Center for the Arts

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