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Friday, June 20, 2008

Friends of Art

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The Milwaukee art community showcases the 46th annual Lakefront Festival of Arts this weekend. The event, organized by the MilwaukeeArt Museum’s Friends of Art, exhibits an array of exceptionally talented individuals from June 20 to June 22.

This nationally acclaimed juried festival features more than 170 artists, including Wisconsin’s Arthur Bartkowiak, Mike Dretzka, Shelby Keefe, Kim Koch, Deone Jahnke, Katie Musolff, Mark Porter and Micheal Santini, to name only a few. The wide variety of mediums ranges from ceramics to photography, drawing, fiber, wearable art, glass, jewelry, metal, sculpture and wood. Music, refreshments and a summertime atmosphere add to this three-day event on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Friends of Art, which celebrates its 50th year in cooperation with the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM), uses the festival’s proceeds to benefit the museum’s art acquisition and exhibition fund. More than 120 volunteers staff the committees and approximately 900 of these “friends” run the festival each year. Through their efforts, the organization has funded the purchase of more than 300 pieces of permanent art for the museum.

“This is an amazing group of people to work with,” says festival director Beth Hoffman, who will retire after 26 years with the festival. “The event is the strength of all the pieces in the community that come together to raise money for the MAM.”

One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the official poster by local artist Lawrence W. Oliverson. His work, 1000 Cranes, features folded paper cranes pictured on “the blackest paper he could find.” The image represents good luck, long life, loyalty and peace, and will be transferred to T-shirts, hoodies, ties and silk scarves.

Continuing with the festival’s aviary theme, Pennsylvania’s Phil Godfrey will install a dozen stylized birds on the lakefront. His imaginary creatures, inspired by American-Indian culture, will fly over the patrons. The fiber arts fashion show and the sculpture garden, featuring 12 unique pieces, demonstrate how the public may incorporate artwork into their everyday lives and environments.

The annual festival runs Friday from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival fee (ranging from $7 to $10) includes admission to the museum. Children under 16 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Two other events honor local friends supporting art. Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery celebrates its third birthday the entire month of June by staying open seven hours a day each day of the week. The store will also host a special reception Friday, June 20, from 7 to 10 p.m., featuring the work of California artist Catherine Ryan and Milwaukee artist Eduardo Villanueva.

Commemorating 20 years in the city, the Walker’s PointCenter for the Arts hosts its “Annual Members Show” on Friday, June 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. The works, displayed salon style, highlight the depth of Wisconsin’s art.

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