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Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

Soup's On Presents Iconic 'Madonna & Child'

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The portrait of mother and child represents an iconic image in almost every culture. It is an endearing picture that revisits the quintessential maternal relationship, and it can be either physical or spiritual in context. Curator and photographer William Zuback invited 31 fellow artists to present their unique perspectives on the subject in the exhibition “Madonna & Child: Interpreted” at Soup's On (221 N. Water St.).

Zuback notes in an artistic statement that the first depiction of Madonna and child was drawn in Rome's Catacomb of Priscilla. St. Francis of Assisi later defined the nativity. Raphael followed in rich oils, and Michelangelo recreated Madonna with an adult child in his immortal Renaissance sculpture The Pieta. Interpretations throughout the centuries have captured the divine and the human, as well as Mother Earth—Gaia and her children living on the planet.

Soup's On's multimedia exhibition displays collage boxes, paintings, photographs and sculptural necklaces created by familiar Milwaukee artists. Steven Bossler paints a nursing baby wearing a crown of thorns while a mother sheds golden tears, an image reminiscent of Russian icons. In a stark and poignant large-scale photograph, artist Doug Krimmer presents a close-up view of a woman's torso, pregnant with a child inside her protruding stomach.

In A Modern Mother's Agony: Memorial Collier, Brenda Schweder crafts a barbed-wire necklace studded with a rosary and mementos from a lost child in this painfully visceral object honoring grief. A sculptural piece by Angel French reinvents a wine bottle as Mother Mary. The bottle is placed in a wooden box similar to a church niche, decorated with packaging materials from around the globe. The title Mary Resides in Her House With the Sisters and Brothers of Jesus is layered with metaphors.

This intelligent, emotionally charged exhibit should evoke a psychological response from nearly everyone, as people recall their own mother or child and contemplate how that person has impacted their lives. Spending time here will add depth to the holiday season.

(The gallery at Soup's On is open by appointment. For more information, call 414-460-6408. A closing reception takes place on Gallery Night, Jan. 20, from 6-10 p.m. Funds from a $20 color catalog will benefit the Grand Avenue Club, an organization working to enrich the lives of those who have experienced a mental illness.)
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