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Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008

Evolving Art

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   Katie Musolff, a 2004 graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, stakes her name on her award-winning oils. Her near-life-size portraits capture the unique persona and soul of her subject in masterful strokes, but a recent personal experience led her to redirecting the focus of her art and her life. This reevaluation of her subject matter and primary medium infuses her upcoming exhibition "Drawn from Life," which opens on Gallery Night at the Elaine Erickson Gallery, located on the first floor of the Third Ward's Marshall Building.

  The 50 pieces featured in the exhibit highlight Musolff's artistic expertise in drawing with diverse media, including ink, watercolor, charcoal, oil, and graphite. These intimate renderings surprise the viewer with simple lines that elegantly define the forms of her subjects, be they human faces or fish. Musolff muses, "drawing reveals more about you than painting… it's visual thinking. There's a rawness in the drawings that I'd like to put into my paintings."

  Many of these "raw drawings," some of which are displayed unframed, portray the delicate intricacies and glistening scales of Wisconsin fish-Midwest perch, cod, carp and sheephead. Musolff, who always found fishing an adventure, discovered a cottage along the Mississippi River where she personally catches these fish. After freezing and thawing them, she recreates the life/death cycle through drawings on paper and canvas. Erickson, who has represented Katie since her graduation, finds this new work exciting. "When I'm looking at these works it's almost like looking at the actual fish," she says. "You can actually see the dimension, the real object, and touch it."

  These artworks, displayed together with Musolff's traditional large-scale figurative work, add a vibrant dimension to the exhibition, an invitation to see this young artist redefine her phenomenal talent. The exhibit opens Oct. 17 at 11 a.m., and Erickson hosts a reception on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m. On Oct. 25, Nov.1 and Nov. 8, between 1 and 3 p.m., visitors to the exhibit can observe Musolff working from a live model in Erickson's gallery.

  At 6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 17, on the fifth floor of the Marshall Building, the Portrait Society Gallery opens its new exhibition "Rudy Rotter: We are Family." Since beginning his career at the age of 43, the late Rotter produced more than 15,000 pieces of work including wood sculptures and works on paper, many of which have been collected by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. Debra Brehmer, owner of the Portrait Society, unveils Rotter's uncommon artwork in her intimate gallery space, introducing a body of work that seeks to express the meaning of family.