Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Congressional Art Competition

I am pleased to accept an invitation by Congresswoman Gwen Moore to judge the 2009 Fourth Congressional District Art Competition. This annual event takes place in congressional districts all over the country and acknowledges and honors the talent of creative high school students. This year's Milwaukee exhibition will be displayed during May at the Chase Tower at Water and Wisconsin in Downtown Milwaukee. The first place winner, along with their parents, will receive a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the award ceremony. The winning piece will be hung in the Cannon Tunnel in the Capital for one year.

Congresswoman Moore is strong advocate for art and works hard to improve opportunities for young people of our district. Thanks Gwen for all you do.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Old shows, new shows... Gallery Night at WPCA.

Future WPCA artists visiting us: Tiffany Knopow (left), who will be in MARN Mentors exhibition opening Friday, May 1st, and Jennifer Pollock Harris (right), whose two-person exhibition with Regan Golden McNerney, Decorative Directive will be on display in July and August.

Board members, Jose Montoto and Heather Pantoga came to visit with their family.

Dos hermanos @ Tres Hermanos.

36th Annual Juried Art Show at UWM's Union Art Gallery

Gary Tuma and two of our colleagues, Melissa Musante, Executive Director of MARN and Darryl Jensen, printmaker and instructor/print lab technician at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, were this year's jurors for 36th Annual Juried Art Show at UWM's Union Art Gallery that opens tonight, April 24th from 5 pm to 8 pm.

Come by and see what they chose from the large poll of works that were presented to them!
Dorota is very proud, because a former student of hers, Jes Myszka, received an honorable mention for her piece Disintegration, a small installation/assamblage with intaglio-printed book. It's an amazing piece - in itself a great reason to stop by the gallery. (And as you might know, Dorota doesn't compliment anything lightly!)

The juried show at the Union Gallery has a long history of supporting local emerging artist and is a great opportunuty to see some of the new work from area's current students and recent alumni. Go and see what they're all up to!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thank you sent to Alderpersons

The following communication was sent to all the Alderpersons who voted in favor of the Zweig project on behalf of WPCA.

"On behalf of Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, our board, staff, artist and community members and the many young people we serve through our art education program, thanks for your support of the Zweig public art commission. We know that art education is thoroughly realized through exposure to an array of art forms and creative interpretations. Public art that introduces our residents to new concepts through hands on interaction is a most winning formula. The Zweig project accomplishes this most creatively using local artists and resources. Our art education program at WPCA is called “Hands On” for this very reason. Zweig’s project can and will inspire Milwaukeeans to a new appreciation for art in all its forms. Public discussion of art, and indeed public debate, is one of the essential tools in this educational process."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thank your Alderman...

... if (s)he voted in favor of Janet Zweig's public art project.

Click here, to find out how.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hearing for Zweig's project

We just got a word from Christine Harris on this and we're imploring you to attend!

The public art project will again be heard at a special meeting of the Public Works Committee on Tuesday, April 14th, at 8 a.m. in advance of the full Council meeting at 9 a.m
in Room 301-B (at the City Hall). It will be important for those supportive of this initiative to be present and offer their input on this project.

Start planning for Gallery Night!

If you're planning your gallery hopping route for Friday, April 17th, make sure to include us as one of our stops.
The Pilsen show is closing soon and you wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to see it.
We will be celebrating with a reception from 5 to 9 pm.

Thanks to our benefactors!

Walker's Point Center for the Arts wants to express deep gratitude to our continuous supporters, Northwestern Mutual Foundation and the Windhover Foundation. In these uncertain times their unwavering support and generosity cannot be underestimated.

The grant from Northwestern Mutual Foundation will allow us to continue and improve our "Hands On" education for youth, while the grant from the Windhover Foundation will help sustain our general operations and support our programming.

On behalf of WPCA's board, staff, volunteers and participants: THANK YOU!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Updates on the Creative Coalition

Gary Tuma and I attended March 25th Creative Coalition meeting at the Italian Community Center and I do owe everybody updates. For the official version of the event, you can check out the report posted on Milwaukee Cultural Alliance's website by Christine Harris. That way, I can spare you dry, bureaucratic details and just cut right to the chase.

Interestingly, due to the recent (and fully justified) upheaval surrounding Janet Zweig's public art project, the Creative Coalition's activities have been off the radar screen. Perhaps this is also why I haven't heard from the Coalition, even though I volunteered for one of the task forces (I opted for Communications lead by Jonathan West, mostly because I respect his position within the Coalition's constellation of players). It is a busy time, everybody pulling hair over a threat of loosing Zweig's project to the chopping - pardon, "voting" - block. I have to acknowledge though, that I did receive an electronic "Thank You" note.

Now, on to the issues. Two things were striking about the meeting:
  • appalling homogeneity of the crowd in which minorities were barely represented,
  • complete lack of involvement from our political "representatives."
While I hope the first will be remedied immediately with smart outreach efforts on the part of the Coalition's leaders, the latter needs closer scrutiny.

Given the current uproar around the rejection of Zweig's proposal, the exclusion of politicians from the planning process (be it self-imposed, or not) should be quite instructive and serve as an important lesson - I taught for many years, so I do trust you will bear my tone- that the Creative Coalition should seriously consider.

From many cultural plans that I had studied in the recent months, both from the US and elsewhere, Milwaukee is the only instance in which the planning process is being lead entirely by a private - non-for-profit - but nonetheless, entirely private enterprise. The groundbreaking Chicago Cultural Plan, for example, was initiated by the Mayor Harold Washington and lead by the newly founded Department of Cultural Affairs. The funding was provided by the NEA and Chicago Community Trust, a good, ol' mix of public and private funding. Many other plans I had seen were sponsored by similar conjoined effort of both civic leaders, public and private bodies. While Chicago's case is certainly unprecedented in terms of governmental involvement, that kind of involvement provides a firm footing for other plans as well. I don't find it particularly surprising. For a plan to succeed, it needs a support coming from all the significant constituents.

What I do find rather shocking is the divorce of public and private that seems to be taking place in Milwaukee right now. I don't know how it happened that no politicians were involved in the Creative Coalition. I am not willing to speculate here why this might have occured. However, if the Creative Coalition trusted its own intelligence and power just less than two weeks ago, perhaps we have just learned a harsh lesson that without involvement of the political leadership, no "creative"/cultural plan can come to fruition. Without a smart strategy to engage and secure the support of the Mayor, the Common Council etc. we are just waiting for other valuable projects to get shot down. So while you're calling your alderman to ask her/him for a vote in favor of Zweig's project, also consider asking them how come they do not participate in the Creative Coalition.

MARN workshops this weekend

On Saturday we're hosting two of MARN's Professional Development Workshops for artists and I'd like to encourage you to come! Graeme Reid curator and Assistant Director at the Museum of Wisconsin Art will be leading a workshop on writing artist statements and Sally Stanton will guide you through intricacies of grant writing. You can find the details here.

Anyways, I just wanted to share some thoughts on artist statements and spell out some reasons for potential usefulness of this workshop (as I don't doubt Graeme will do a wonderful job).

As an artist, I dread writing statements. It's not even that I don't like to write down thoughts on my work, quite the contrary, I thrive on writing. However, the statement needs to encapsulate the most essential things about the work in a relatively small amounts of words. The issue of space is important to me as my own projects include quite diverse visual languages/ manifestations. How do I clarify what brings them together without writing a lengthy essay?
Then, there's a question of language, perhaps even more challenging one. The statement needs to be accessible, speak not just to the curator and the specialist, but also to the public, but yet - somehow - avoid cliches. It needs to illuminate without making the work seem trivial.

I take that last problem very seriously from the personal experience of jurying/curating exhibitions and looking through dozens of artists statements. As a matter of fact, I just went through such an ordeal last weekend. Trust me, there are few things that can do otherwise decent work a greater disfavor than an obscure, convoluted or banal statement.

Anyways, I am not here to run the workshop for Graeme - I just wanted to share some thoughts to encourage you to attend.