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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Creative Connections

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  “Since I was a little girl, about 3 or 4, I was always drawing pictures and hanging them on the walls [of our home],” says artist Flora Langlois, 80, in a recent phone interview. “Then I’d charge a quarter for the neighbors to come and look at them.”

  So began the artistic career of Langlois, whose exhibit, “One from Wisconsin: Flora Langlois,” opens at the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MWA) on June 4.

  Langlois’ childhood talent flourished in Costa Rica under the encouragement of her mother, Louisa Gonzalez de Saenz, a well-known surrealistic painter in Latin America. Upon completing high school, Langlois traveled to California’s ImmaculateHeartCollege to study art. Her style first developed through silverpoint drawings, but Langlois later discovered an interest in large-scale pen and ink pictures.

  Her distinctive paintings, often described as “magic realism,” feature bright acrylics on linen and board. These highly detailed landscapes depict nature and figures in a brilliant garden paradise of color, the paint layered and glazed to perfection. Langlois, who paints directly on the surface, uses very few preliminary drawings because she derives her images strictly from memories and visual musings about the natural world.

  “I love nature,” she says. “Each painting comes from my imagination or remembering a certain bug or flower. They evolve on the board, spontaneous; things just emerge. It’s more fun!”

  Twelve of her delightful pieces will be presented at the MWA, with a reception on Sunday, June 8, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. that offers an opportunity to meet this charming Wisconsin artist.

  Another artistic woman, Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery co-owner Faythe Levine, is curator of the exhibition “Devotion to Thread” at Woodland Pattern Book Center on East Locust Street. This intriguing display of stitchery on paper or cloth, combined with other mixed media, features 15 regional artists. Several interesting thread portraits by Orly Cogan illustrate femininity, flowers and food in confectionary colors with subtle erotic overtones. Woodland Pattern’s reception Saturday, May 31, from 5 to 9 p.m. includes a gallery talk from visiting artist Garth Johnson, who will be conducting a workshop Sunday, June 1, titled “Decal-O-Mania!”

  Two upcoming events also connect art to the community: On Saturday, May 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Downer Avenue Plein Air Painting Competition, presented by the League of Milwaukee Artists, holds a silent auction outside the Downer Avenue Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Artists Working in Education. On Sunday, June 1, the Miller Lite Ride for Arts will raise money for the United Performing Arts Fund.

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