Dancing with chairs is nothing new. Before Flashdance, before Fred Astaire, possibly even before people thought to sit in them, dancers were sharing the stage with chairs. It might be the lowly chair's ability to double as an even lowlier stool, or it might be the contrast between the dynamic dancer and the static object. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. There's a danger in working with chairs: Because it's been done so much, it risks becoming a cliché. That danger, though, means that when done well, the payoff is even greater. In the hands of an inventive, solid company like Danceworks, the audience is almost certain to get that payoff.
Form and Meaning in Design," the current exhibit in the Brooks Stevens
Gallery at MIAD is, as it intends to be, completely fun and very
provocative. As consumers, we may not always understand the aim of
product design when we're shopping for everyday objects like
toothbrushes and potato peelers, but on some level we do understand
what attracts us to a product.
Photography has long
held a unique place in art. Sometimes it's conceptual, sometimes it's
journalism, and the lines between art and documentary are blurred. When
done well, photography is powerful. By its nature, photography is
always documenting something and a narrative is implied. Even if you
know intellectually that you're being taken for a ride via the
photographer's visual trickery, you are drawn in anyway. Seeing, after
all, is believing, even if a photograph very artfully bends reality.
You willingly suspend disbelief...
If the idea of organic clothing gives you visions of shapeless hemp sacks worn by granola-munching hippies, it's time to go shopping. These days, organic duds are not only good for the environment, they actually look good, which puts the "fashion" back in earth-friendly fashions. What's more, the green clothing world now offers an array of fabrics, from the softest bamboo to the silkiest soy, which helps not just in the style department but feels comfortable as well.
Organic cotton has made it big, for sure-you can find an organic onesie for your baby at Whole Foods, Target, and (close your eyes, this one hurts . . .
In a world where people do everything online, from paying parking tickets to buying shoes, it makes sense that we would begin experiencing art that way, too. In January, interactive marketing company Data Dog launched ArtMailMilwaukee.com, which delivers a piece of local art to your inbox each week.
When Mike Brenner threatened last winter to close Hotcakes Gallery and leave town if funds were raised to erect a bronze statue of The Fonz, a lot of people accused him of being whiny, or worse. But at the heart of his complaint was the fact that, despite easily raising $85,000 for the Bronze Fonz, people just aren’t walking into local galleries and purchasing art, which makes it hard for those galleries to stay in business.
Milwaukee loves art, though, right? Gallery Night is heavily attended, so much so that it’s sometimes hard to actually enjoy the art on the walls through the cheese-nibbling crowds. But galleries, particularly those showing emerging artists, come and go . . .
Tucked in the basement at Woodland Pattern Book Center, amidst cluttered staff desks and carefully maintained overstock, exists a remarkably complete archive of the organization’s history. Every newsletter, flyer and check the bookstore has ever written is here, along with audio recordings documenting almost 30 years of readings and musical performances. That’s a lot of stuff. Woodland Pattern, both when it opened and today, stands firmly as the state’s foremost center for contemporary literature and art in the broadest . . .
Hotcakes’ last hurrah is this year’s “Third MARN Mentors Show,” highlighting the outcome of a year-long collaboration between established local artists and those just getting their feet wet. The MARN Mentors program is supposed to encourage new talent to stay in Milwaukee, so it’s hard to ignore the incongruity: There’s a stark contrast between work born of such a hopeful concept and Hotcakes’ liquidation sale atmosphere.
Hotcakes Gallery may be preparing to shut down in a couple of months, but the work currently on the walls doesn’t suggest it. This show, at minimum, is great fun for the viewer, who is treated to superb illustration and sculpture at the hands of Portland artists Meredith Dittmar and Betsy Walton. It’s a well-conceived show, with a sense of unity between the two artists, culminating in a collaborative piece that combines Dittmar’s polymer clay figures with Walton’s stoic faces.