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Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009

Natural Inspiration

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Nature provides the inspiration for two artists this week, when Natalie Settles opens her exhibit Feb. 4 at the Charles Allis Art Museum and Brook Slane premieres his work Feb. 7 at Tory Folliard Gallery. Both artists display their expertise for capturing the wonder of the natural world.

"The Natural Motif: New Drawings by Natalie Settles" presents Settles' meditative graphite and watercolor artwork, which shifts in style between 19th-century designs and the sparseness of modern art. Settles hails from Madison but exhibits her drawings, prints and sculptures internationally, including recent shows in Brazil and Norway. Her creative background includes working with the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museums of American History, Natural History and the American Indian.

These experiences clearly influence Settles' two-dimensional pieces, where her scientific mind-set works through small-scale images in a hybrid of both the artistic and biological worlds. Settles will discuss her work at an artist's reception Wednesday, Feb. 4, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Charles Allis Art Museum.

Tory Folliard Gallery continues its commitment to emerging talent in the exhibition "Introducing…Brook Slane: Let's Go Home." Slane, who graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2005, exhibits some 15 oils or acrylics on recycled wood panels. Distressed edges give his pieces a sculptural quality. His intimate paintings, which make use of subtle color shading and fine detail, suggest magical botanical settings where elegant swans and other creatures playfully interact with sky, sea or earth. Organic objects floating in the background enhance wistful scenes of mysterious origin and purpose.

In addition to his job as a designer for Kohl's Corp., Slane enjoys illustrating books for children. Tory Folliard hosts a reception with Slane from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7.

The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts offers a "Snow Sculpting Family Event" Saturday, Jan. 31, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Artist Don Berg, who oversees the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition, lectures and instructs participants of every age on how to create an icy masterpiece. Registration and a small fee are required for the full-day workshop. For more information, call 262-781-9520.

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