Sunday, April 19, 2009

Interview: Living Local @ The Westside Artwalk

By Peggy Sue
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The Westside Artwalk began seven years ago to help the city discover the local merchants
and art scene where the far edges of Milwaukee meet Waukesha County. This also includes Wisconsin Lutheran College's art gallery at their Center for Arts and Performance on 88th and Wisconsin Avenue, which features both students and professional artists. Pat Mueller, owner of Art and Soul Gallery, along with Pam Anderson, proprietor of Underwood Gallery, co-chair the Westside Artwalk happening this coming weekend on April 24, 5:00-9:00 p.m. and April 25, 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Speaking from her gallery in Wauwatosa Village, Anderson describes her hopes for this and future Artwalks, which involves incorporating the idea of the community 'living local.'

1. The theme for the Spring Artwalk is "The Art of Living." How does that impact the event?
We're trying to broaden the concept of Artwalk so more businesses can participate, and
include entertainment as well. This is more about the art of living…..There are so many aspects of how art fits into our lives. This is what we're trying to introduce to people. That with all this stress going on in people's lives right now art is very important.

2. Are more businesses participating this spring?

Other businesses have been hesitant to participate in the Artwalks because they think it needs to be a visual artist [to showcase], but we're getting more people to participate because we have so much variety planned. It works with what communities are coming out with: living local campaigns. Using the merchants and resources available in your own area. So we're trying to show them what the neighborhood has to offer⎯reducing our carbon footprint, even bringing their own shopping bags to carry things home in.

3. What are some highlights that will be of interest at this year's event?

I think our visual guest artists are really strong this time and we're reinforcing our public schools by showing some of the most promising young emerging artists' work. This reinforces in the child that his art is worth something when it's shown in a public venue. Painter Bridget Griffith Evans will be at Eat Cake! Eddie Daniel just authored a book, Urban Wilderness, and he will be showing his photography along with the book at The Little Read Book Store. Tim Decker will be in the Village on Saturday afternoon and he helped animate The Simpsons for three years.

4. You talked about having more entertainment?

On Saturday afternoon we have a drum circle that everyone can participate in. There's such an amazing energy created when the circle is completed…where everyone is beating to the same rhythm. Janet Schiff, a cellist who played with Tori Amos, will be at Underwood Gallery on Friday night. And the Haegele Jazz Quartet will be playing at Vino 100. Haegele is a young high school student who plays with MYSO (Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra), who lives and breathes music with his instrument the string bass.

5. The Artwalk combines all the arts instead of focusing on just visual arts?
I believe that art is all these forms…it's in our cuisine, the colors, the combinations, the presentation, the flavors….that's all art. Art touches every facet of our life. I'm not saying it is all fine art but tangentially this affects all facets in our life that we take it for granted. I think we need art and fine art and craft everyday…everyday touches that make our lives richer. And if we take time to appreciate and savor those moments we are richer for it, for savoring every little piece.

6. So you describe a difference between art and fine art?
There has to be a difference between fine art and the art in life. But I hope we never become so busy, so overloaded to miss art in life. We have a wealth of 'stuff' in our world that we don't appreciate any more. And when we stop and appreciate the little things, that helps us understand what fine art is. I feel that sometimes culture is slipping away…our artists that are doing fine art and craft are not getting the support by our culture to keep these things so they will survive. It's very expensive for fine artists to make a living, to compete in today's global economy. We need more community…and Artwalk provides that for this time at a minimum charge. This is hopefully drawing people back to core values and community. (For information: www.villageofwauwatosa.com)




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