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Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

Madison Museum Is The Setting For The ‘2013 Wisconsin Triennial’

Technology and Contemporary Art

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The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s survey exhibition of Wisconsin artists at every stage of their career, the “2013 Wisconsin Triennial,” features the results of a rigorous process. The exhibit was culled from 500 applications and more than 100 visits to working studios. Some 35 artists were chosen.

Visitors can peruse the installations, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and performing arts at the exhibition through Jan. 5, 2014. Familiar names include Derrick Buisch, Carl Corey, Richard Knight, J. Shimon and J. Lindemann, Charles Munch, Fred Stonehouse, Eddie Villanueva and Jason Yi. These artists have established careers, and consequently some of the artwork in the exhibition has been previously seen, especially in exhibits held in Milwaukee.

Fascinating new work includes a grand-scale sculpture constructed by Madison’s Lisa Gralnick. Her installation, The Nightmare of Enduring Bliss, involves giant globes embedded with artifacts referencing domestic life: doorknobs, faucets, silver trays. Could these be marbles ready to be picked up to play a game, or were the balls released from their chains as metaphorical allusions to marriage?

Another innovative piece, Chele Issac’s The End of Angels, combines installation and video. After mounting a step to peer through a tiny window, viewers observe a miniature interior diorama filled with several staircases, and then look beyond into a black space to watch an eight-minute video loop. While thunderstorms crash and feathers from destroyed pillows fly through the air, a woman pushing a shopping cart walks through the storm that relates a supernatural, surreal narrative. Mesmerizing to watch, the short experience evokes personal memories that might imply another spiritual existence or force to contemplate.

On exhibit in the museum lobby, a sculpture by Bird Ross and Tom Loeser successfully merges fine art and fine furniture. The bleacher-like seating is reminiscent of a front porch, where someone might lounge on the steps watching the neighborhood. A trio of variously colored steps rises to stylized versions of a house’s picket fence.

Many pieces in “2013 Triennial” involve the use of new technology, including advanced construction, impressive glazes, new materials, photographic processes or videos. Contemporary works exhibited in 2013 could foreshadow where Wisconsin artists are headed in the second decade of the 21st century.

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