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Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008

Indie Craft

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The belief that "everybody can create something" embodies the artwork in "DIY: Do It Yourself Series," currently on display in the Community Gallery at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. The "DIY" exhibit presents the work of eight national artists who define the do-it-yourself spirit.

   The artists use their crafts as a means of personal expression, demonstrating sustainability, individuality, simplicity and appreciation for a community that creates unique material goods. These characteristics-interpreted and applied through what is sometimes called "indie craft"-combine historical craft techniques, punk culture and DIY principles to emphasize an unconventional spirit while also responsibly recycling commonplace objects into functional art.

   Exploring this timely philosophy in their works are Faythe Levine, Rodney Allen Trice, Jeff Davis, Sarah Kate Burgess, Heather Cameron, John Murphy, Betz White and Valerie and Jonathan Nicklow. By forming trivial remnants into a cohesive whole, each artist incorporates the DIY ethos into their pieces. Trice, who originated T.O.M.T. (The Other Man's Treasures), recovers and reuses discarded junk and gives this refuse new life. His Globe Clock transforms half of a vintage globe into the face of an actual working clock. Vinylux, the company originated by artist Jeff Davis, specifically reclaims obsolete records. His sculptural Stepped Bowl constructs a serving dish from old Santana vinyl recordings. And with a sense of imaginative humor, John Murphy crafts lovable monsters from recycled or classic fabrics, which are delightfully displayed in his Lyman Ornsbee. This penguin-like creature sports a striped, pointed head and pincerlike feet that Murphy fabricated using fleece, mung beans, polyester, thread, felt and child-safe eyes.

   Each of these intriguing artists hosts DIY open studios in collaboration with the JMKAC in order to encourage people to participate by using the creative "power in your hands." Two workshops featured this month include "Block Printing and Fabric Collage with the Nicklows" on Saturday, Aug. 9, and "Everyday Jewelry Making with S.K. Burgess" on Saturday, Aug. 23. Though the "DIY" exhibit ends Sept. 23, these open studios continue until Oct. 18, offering the DIY experience and professional instruction to the public. (For more information, go to: www.jmkac.org.)

   At Marquette University this summer, the Haggerty Museum of Art introduces its "Lunchtime Learning Series," which coordinates with the exhibit "Biographical Landscape: The Photography of Stephen Shore." For three consecutive Thursdays, beginning Aug. 7 from noon until 1 p.m., a trio of experts, including Museum Director Wally Mason, will offer insight into the art of photography.

   And the Wisconsin Designer Craft Council (WDCC) invites Milwaukeeans to the Morning Glory Arts Fair on the grounds of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate 140 talented exhibitors Aug. 9 and 10. These two days, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature exceptional fine art, along with a silent auction on Saturday to benefit the WDCC's scholarship fund.