Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014

"Sisters of Freedom" and a Master Printmaker from Chennai, India

By Tyler Friedman
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Though the sun seems to visiting a bit more these days, sickness has redoubled its efforts to ensure the slow-approaching spring is all the sweeter for the misery we’ve endured. If you’ve already exceeded the recommended daily doses of acetaminophen and Emergen-C, you may be in need of the curative powers of art. Personally, I’ve long believed that the bromide “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is fulfilled equally well by contemplating Cézanne’s The Basket of Apples as it is by biting into a Granny Smith. With that in mind, here are two additional art happenings.

First up we have “Sisters of Freedom: African American Women Moving Us Forward,” a display celebrating the African American women from the 1800s to the present day. The exhibition educates viewers about thirty-four figures – some well known, many unsung – with pictures and illuminating biographical information.

In addition to familiar names such as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou, the exhibition also features several of Milwaukee’s illustrious daughters. The pioneering advocacy of Gwen Jackson for early childhood education led Milwaukee Public Schools to name the Twenty-first St. School the Gwen T. Jackson Early Childhood and Elementary School in 2009. The community activist and organizer, Martha Love, dedicated herself to securing equitable labor rights for African American employees in Milwaukee. And the Honorable Vel Phillips has many firsts to her name. She was the first African American woman to graduate from UW-Madison’s law school, the first African American member of Milwaukee’s Common Council, and the first African American judge in Wisconsin.

Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and your little ones to these worthy role models, since the exhibition will only be on display until Friday, February 28. “Sisters of Freedom” is free, open to the public and can be visited on the third floor of the Courthouse during normal business hours.

And now, as Monty Python would have it, for something completely different. Master printmaker and sculptor Baalaa (R. Balasubramanian) from Chennai, India, will be the visiting artist-in-residence at Redline Milwaukee from February 28 through March 16. 

Local artists are able to avail themselves of Baalaa R.’s trenchant critical eye, so long as they are Redline members ($50 annually; $25 for students/seniors). Many of Baalaa R.’s hypnotic and intoxicating works can be viewed here.

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