Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Erickson, Gingrass & greymatter Open Diverse Exhibitions

Erickson Features Retrospective on Carol Rowan

By Peggy Sue
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This past weekend several  galleries in the Historic Third Ward opened intriguing exhibitions that will lead up or continue through summer gallery night. All three appear in the Marshall Building on the corner of Buffalo and Water, which makes viewing the artwork pure pleasure when housed in one space.

On the first floor of the Marshall building at Katie Gingrass Gallery, “Here and Now” opened and featured work by David Schaefer and Michael Wares. Schaefer’s expressionist, mixed media and primarily abstract images, appear to loosely infer a style similar to German painter Anselm Kiefer. Kiefer used a variety of materials to create his very textural, thickly layered images, some evoking the Holocaust, others depicting landscapes and architectural images in a mid 20th century Germany. Many of Schaefer’s paintings including one titled Industrial Cavern resonate with similar tone and color palettes of an industrial cityscape or wasteland that Kiefer relegated in his career to post World War II Europe.

Ware’s fascinating ceramics fool the viewer’s eye when he inventively applies his multiple glazes to his clay. The finished effect references organic and primal energy while simultaneously conjuring the scientific future, as if the sculptures could be a small meteorite or star particle that fell from earth.

Gingrass exhibits numerous other artists in her gallery showcasing various art mediums and her new space in the Marshall Building focuses on the attention on art, whether jewelry, painting or sculpture. “Here and Now” continues through August.

Across the way on the Marshall Building’s first floor, Elaine Erickson Gallery presents the “Carol Rowan Retrospective” through mid-July. Rowan recently passed away, and Erickson, who represented the artist since the late 1990’s on the recommendation of Wisconsin artist Joseph Friebert, pays a tribute to this highly talented woman.

Rowan found success as an art teacher, commercial artist and fine artist working primarily in the complex medium of pastels. After teaching art in West Allis from 1967-1989, Rowan retired, contracted with an agent, and her pastel drawings/ paintings became licensed and published, used for dishes, note cards, rugs, wallpaper and other home furnishings. Along with her fine art career, Rowan was a best selling and highly successful commercial artist.

In Erickson’s tribute, the retrospective exhibits several of Rowan’s early MFA graduate work, delicate charcoal drawings, nudes shadowed in black on white paper, mysterious and sensual. Her more realistic still life’s includes an exquisite pastel using primarily ivories titled White Asparagus that captures the subtle nuances to this difficult to manipulate color.

Rowan’s daughter Libby attended the exhibition, and she named Rowan’s Self Portrait her favorite painting on display. The asymmetrical composition with the face placed on the paper's upper right corner drawn in soft colorations becomes striking, the picture of a pensive Rowan. Libby spoke with reverence for her mother’s abilities and gifts when she said: “I had only seen her as a child does, as a mother. When I go through her work, and see her paintings on the gallery walls, I see her life outside of being a mother with an appreciation for the enormous amount of talent she had."

After this moving exhibition, climb the steps to the second floor where the petite contemporary gallery greymatter offers some of the most provocative exhibitions in Milwaukee.This year owners and artists Rachel Quirk and Zina Mussman dedicate the gallery to showing innovative artwork from around the country.

“Molly Roberts rEvolution” opened over the weekend and runs through July 13, a fascinating display of her mixed media paintings. A Milwaukee native, Roberts was at the opening, and chatted, saying the exhibition paid tribute to the early 1990’s with girl positive, rock and roll inspiration from riot girl bands, when girls were culturally cool and anti-status quo. When a new girl power was discovering its own evolution. Roberts' five paintings also draw from street art, which she admires from being in American cities such as Philadelphia and New Orleans, an art form that has transformed into a major contemporary genre. Working as an artist and a musician, Roberts also plays in her own band Tiger Night, which resonates with this vibrant images at greymatter. Stroll through the Marshall Building any weekend to view over thirty galleries and venues, especially these three, to expand one’s perception of the city’s art scene.

 

 

 

 

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