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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Artbeat Birthday Party

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Milwaukee Artbeat really knows how to throw a party.  Especially one to celebrate its one-year anniversary.

Bring your maracas and an $8 donation and celebrate the theme of the evening, "A Taste of Central and Latin American Flair" at the Hide House (2625 South Greeley St.) on April 30. Guests are invited to a salsa dance lesson at 7 p.m. given by Christine Almeida, who has taught dance at UW-M, Carroll College and Danceworks.  Regional performers will provide entertainment for the remainder of the evening, and 7 area artists are featured in the gallery.

Singer-rapper J.D. Rankin of the Love Monkeys and King Solomon will treat the crowd to his music and freestyle. Other performers include bundle of energy and pop singer/songwriter/guitarist Ronnie Nyles, mosaic artist Shelly Bird, hip-hop poet Joshua the Scribe and Latin dancers from Capoeira Nago, a group dedicated to the Brazilian art of capoeira, a combination of acrobatics, dance, music and martial arts.

The visual artists featured in the gallery include Joseph Reeves (he describes his work as "experimentation with different mediums"), photographer Jessica Zalewski, painter Annie Guldberg, sculptor-drawer Carrie Chimenti, experimental artist Amanda Iglinski, Kasia Drake-Hames (who nworks with a variety of media including printmaking, painting, and fiber) and Shelly Rosenquist (known for “pastel on wood” pieces).

Proceeds from Artbeat shows go to groups such as Express Yourself Milwaukee (an organization that pairs at-risk young people with artists, fostering collaborations with the ultimate goal of teaching coping strategies for the challenges many of these kids face on a daily basis - poverty, substance addiction, violence) and the YWCA of Racine.

Producer Annette Bzdawka (a.k.a. local musician Annie B) started Artbeat in January of 2009 with the intention of showcasing "the great arts scene that we have in Milwaukee," she says.  Her goal has changed a bit since learning that 30 of 105 M.P.S. schools have no arts programs whatsoever. "The arts are a very important part of learning," she says, "just as important as science, math and history, because they allow you to work with a different part of your brain.  You're actually going to have higher scores with academic subjects if you have art classes in school."

She wants to remedy this by helping to provide art classes in Milwaukee schools, perhaps working in conjunction with Arts at Large, a group which has the same objective.  "Kids in all socio-economic levels who are involved in the arts show higher levels of creative thinking and get better grades," she says. "The arts are what's going to allow all of us to become better problem-solvers, better creative thinkers, better at thinking outside the box."