Saturday, May 16, 2009

Milwaukee / Chicago

I was in Milwaukee a few weeks ago and was lucky to catch the newly-configured Chicago Art Fair and the Next Art Fair for younger galleries. As expected, the art quality varied, but the Merchandise Mart's low ceilings allowed for a surprisingly refreshing, intimate experience (oh, that and attendance was modest, a sign of the economy or that the space self-selects its audience?) Kevin and I ran into many pals--Megan Riley of Megan Riley Projects, Chicago (me), Jen Bekman of Jen Bekman gallery, New York (him), curators from the mid-west, etc... The fairs are rebuilding after Chicago was trumped by New York and Miami, and indeed I found some good work.

Edward Lipski's Freak and Child, 2005 (above)
Timothy Hutching's video of murderous explorers Player vs. Player, 2008 (below)

Zoe Walker & Neil Bromwich's inflatable tank (I'm a sucker for the blow-ups)

The last art-related thing I did during my ASU-"sponsored" furlough was attend the opening of Milwaukee's latest addition to the young gallery scene, the Green Gallery (East), run by artist / entrepreneurs John Riepenhoff and Jake Palmert. The show--Lovable Like Orphan Kitties and Bastard Children--was a survey of contemporary art being made in LA.

The show was an irreverent, thoughtful snapshot of one of the most complex and dynamic arts communities--dare I say--on the globe? (I lived in LA from 1988-1997, and while the community has broadened and gone international, it allows for an astonishing range of artistic productions).

What the Green Gallery (located in an old gas statation? dry cleaner?) means to me is that the ecosystem in Milwaukee is sufficiently mature, and the artist community sufficiently diverse, to allow jewels like the Green Gallery to exist--let's hear it for pioneering galleries Hermetic, Jody Monroe and Hotcakes for paving the way!

Megan mentioned to me that she tried to weave together the Chicago and Milwaukee communities while helping to set up the educational programs for the Chicago Art fair--this pairing doubles the value of both communities. As art worlds dissolve and reconfigure themselves, this is surely a powerful combination.

(Henceforth, and unless otherwise noted, all pictures are by the author. This last picture, of Green Gallery, is by Kevin J. Miyazaki, a professional using an amateur's camera.)

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