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Monday, June 7, 2010

Technology, Art Converge in BYO Studio’s ‘Ink!’

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There’s no denying that digital technology and computer software have revolutionized graphic design, but one can debate whether technology enhances the finished image or restricts the creative process by reducing the hand-drawn element. The exhibition “Ink!”—currently on display at Bay View’s BYO Studio Lounge—features a dozen Milwaukee artists who address these concepts through their artwork.

With BYO’s flexible gallery walls, soft chairs and cocktail bar, the exhibition presents its art in an informal, comfortable environment. The setting affords each artist his/her own specific space for viewing.

On one wall, Allison Alexander Westbrook mounts Photoshop pictures, with several resembling film/screen backdrops that evoke an otherworldly atmosphere. Two specific landscapes, Sea Floor Lurker and Junkyard Home, instill futuristic visions. Westbrook’s energized portraits may not be the most original, but they demonstrate strong commercial appeal.

Introduced as a philosopher by his artist’s statement, Anthony Brandl’s insightful collages incorporate ideas with images. His small-scale mixed-media pieces beg to be read and further contemplated. One work, titled Sherlock Holmes on Love, quotes from the Holmes story The Adventure of the Naval Treaty.In the image, a hand-drawn Holmes peeks over a found printed rose, combining technology and the personal to illustrate: “But this rose is an extra. Its smell and color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it.”

On one movable wall, Catherine Palmeno combines cut paper with text to recreate miniature posters with spare visual triggers. Her piece Murder by Death coordinates human and computer touches by picturing a blood-red silhouette of death’s cloaked figure that advertises the Double Door theater in Chicago.

This trio represents only a sampling of the artists showcased in the exhibit, which also includes Christopher MacDonald and his detailed, large-scale pen drawings that defy technology altogether.

While the assemblage varies in both appeal and ability, each artist exhibits his or her singular vision on illustration or design, allowing visitors to infer their own conclusions on how technology affects the definition of art. Viewers may attend the exhibition simply for this reason, or to acquire very affordable, original artworks in a relaxing studio.

“Ink!” continues through June 20 at BYO Studio Lounge.