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Monday, Aug. 6, 2012

Portrait Society Gallery's Growing Vision

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Debra Brehmer, curator and founder of Portrait Society Gallery (207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 526), envisioned working with portraits in 2007. It was a far-reaching vision that would marry her respect for the portrait's historical tradition to an intimate, one-room art gallery on the Marshall Building's fifth floor.

In Brehmer's words, the Portrait Society Gallery would explore how the portrait's legacy could function in the modern world and expand outside of galleries and museums. What was the portrait's role? Why and how does this genre change? Brehmer says she wanted to pursue these ideas "through art more contemporary, and with conceptual underpinnings of the portrait."

The one-room space could then be as Brehmer conceived it, as "more project-oriented, communal—an active place where people participate and create human exchange and conversation."

In five short years—beating the odds in a tenuous economic environment—Brehmer's gallery has grown: across the hall, first, and then into a cleaned-out storage room. This summer, Brehmer decided to make another leap, closing the gallery and constructing an entirely new space featuring enlarged, detail-enriched rooms. She says that her vision has widened along with the project.

With a background in art history, journalism, marketing, public relations, publishing and teaching, Brehmer merged her talents to create a venue that draws the art community together. In her enlarged space, Brehmer will feature a "coffee table gallery"—a display designed for the coffee table in the new lounge—to encourage creative conversations.

The conversations begin with a grand re-opening in mid-September. Brehmer's art spaces, similar to the portrait, have changed over time. But, as Brehmer concludes, "It still questions: How do we get a sense of who we are?"

Art Happenings


Morning Glory Fine Craft Fair

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

929 N. Water St.

Enjoy this free two-day event that has been rated as one of the top 100 craft fairs in the country. It features cash awards for artists courtesy of the Wisconsin Designer Crafts Council. The fair runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 11-12.

Harry & Peg Bradley's Backyard Barbecue

Lynden Sculpture Garden

2145 W. Brown Deer Road

This event puts the "fun" in "fundraiser" as the Lynden Sculpture Garden offers an evening of art activities, barbecue and music 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16. (For registration information, visit www.lyndensculpturegarden.org.)