I remember when I was active in the art scene operating the Frank Juarez Gallery in the Third Ward. For years, I was in the heart of the Milwaukee art scene every Saturday gallery sitting, meeting collectors, chit-chatting with artists, welcoming visitors, etc. This weekly repetitive commitment made me realize that I was missing out by not experiencing what my contemporaries were up to.
At one of my last stops for the evening, I was talking to a curator about the history of this quarterly art event and by default reflecting on the gallery brochure published by the Historic Third Ward. If you were to find a copy of this gallery brochure a decade ago and compared it to the current one, you’ll notice a change in the number of pages. The brochure has lot a bit of weight.
Managing an artist studio, gallery, or a non-profit arts organization has become more difficult especially now. I often wonder how many have closed due to the pandemic, have moved out of their brick-n-mortar to transition online, or switched focus to something else. I bring up the gallery brochure as an artifact to reflect on how time continues to change and how those changes can affect an outcome. We can assume why places have closed or why this gallery brochure is thinner, but does that really matter? What matters is that there are people that are continuing to make an impact in their respective art communities by offering diverse arts programming, sharing their love for art, and using it as a platform for awareness, critical thinking, and change. One thing I have learned is less is more. I have always been a fan of quality over quantity and positive growth over how many people walked through my gallery doors. What matters are the relationships that have been nurtured and maintained during the most difficult times of our lives and the continuation of showing that support and appreciation. Tonight was a true reflection of that.
The quarterly gallery night and day is an event that I look forward to attending. The last one I attended was the January 2020. I’m so glad I made the trip knowing that if I wanted to cover a lot of ground in the span of 4 hours, I knew I would need to limit any meeting-n-greeting, see the exhibitions, and move on to the next destination. After all, I can be a social butterfly. I am so glad that Milwaukee Gallery Night & Day is in full swing.
Here is a list of recommended exhibitions.
Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
Visual Sirens: Collections of Final Warnings. Curated by David Najib Kasir. Ends November 14, 2021
Judy Pfaff: End of the Rain. Curated by J Myszka Lewis & Sona Pastel-Daneshgar for Tandem Press. Ends November 14, 2021.
Anwar Floyd-Pruitt: Retina Records. Ends November 14, 2021.
Highlight Exhibition – Viral Sirens: Collections of Final Warnings. Curated by David Najib Kasir.
Art has always stood as a document of the time and conceptual space in which it was created. Visual Sirens: Collections of Final Warnings brings together eight artists who, in the past twenty years, have endured life through several wars, political upheavals, environmental catastrophes, racial divides, genocides, ethnocides, civil wars, and a global pandemic.
Announcing simultaneously the mortal plight and longevity of their cultures and cultural achievements, the artists endeavor to document, build a communicative and narrative understanding, and, most significantly, to sound the alarm for change towards a better world. Through paintings, sculptures, and installation works this exhibition considers positive cultural innovations alongside their historical and contemporary cultural destruction, and in the process, ask the question: how can we look away?
This exhibition is guest curated by David Najib Kasir, a Milwaukee-based painter whose work is comprised of personal narratives and cultural history or events. In recent years, Kasir’s work draws on stories from his parents’ journey to the U.S. and the current crisis from where they migrated (his mother migrated from Syria, and his father, Iraq). As an artist born here, Kasir reveals his cultural identity in paint and designs to inform viewers on the recent wars in Syria, in hopes of helping them develop an understanding of the millions of voiceless Arabs now living in chaos and disarray.
By using beautiful traditional Arab designs called Zellige to dress the figures in his work, Kasir shows the beauty of a culture and the tragedy as families try to hold on to it and each other as everything around them falls apart.
Kasir has a BFA in painting from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (2001) and is the proud father of two young adult daughters (one being an artist themselves).
MARN ART + CULTURAL HUB
Exhibition: “C is for Conversation”. 2021 MARNsalon Final Exhibition. Ends November 2, 2021.
Meghan Burke-McGrath, Marian JA Vieux, Deborah Brooks, Katie Avila, Valaria Tatera, Frank Korb, Francesco Simonite, Lennis Mathews, Katherine Steichen Rosing, Carley Knight, Reid Sancken, Alexa Hollywood
The exhibition features the work of artists who participated in the 2021 MARNsalon Program and members of the 2021 MARNsalons Advisory Committee. The 10 Salon Program Artists engaged in deep conversations and exchanged ideas with 3 local and 3 national critics during virtual studio/workspace visits from February to June, 2021. Majority of work featured in the exhibition was created after the conclusion of the artists and critics dialogues.
Exhibiting artists include Katie Avila Loughmiller, Deborah Brooks, Alexa Hollywood, Carley Knight, Frank Korb, Lennis Mathews, Meghan Burke McGarth, Reid Sancken, Francesca Simonite, Katherine Steichen Rosing, Valaria Tatera, and Marian JA Vieux.
MARNsalons is a professional development program for artists, curators, critics, and cultural workers in related disciplines that brings national and international curators and critics to Milwaukee for a series of in-depth engagements with members of the local arts community. The 2021 Season was organized by Nina Ghanbarzadeh, the 2021 Program Coordinator, and Michele St. Amour, MARN’s Director of Programming.
MARN would like to thank Bader Philanthropies, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation – Mary L. Nohl Fund and Milwaukee County Cares Act for their generous support to make the 2021 MARNsalons series possible. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Milwaukee Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.
Lily Pad | West Gallery
Exhibition: Lily Pad Showcase. Ends November 7, 2021
To celebrate Lily Pad West’s Five Year Anniversary, we are pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition, “Lily Pad Showcase,” featuring new work from a wide selection of our represented artists, ranging from those who have been with us since the beginning, such as Michael Patterson and David Dunlop, to those we have welcomed more recently, such as Cathy Hegman and John Paul Berry.
Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design
Exhibition: Reimagining the Global Village Exhibition. Curated by Nirmal Raja. Ends December 4, 2021.
“Reimagining the Global Village,” an exhibition curated by MIAD alum Nirmal Raja ‘08 (Painting) and generously sponsored by Fiserv, features transnational art collaborations by nearly 30 artists and collectives in 18 countries that not only celebrate the universal urge to create, but also address major global issues such as refugees at borders, ruptures in cross-cultural communication and climate change.
Between Two Galleries, Var West Gallery
Exhibition: When Trees Dream. Ends October 30, 2021
Mary Hood, Rina Yoon, John Schuerman, Kevin Geise, Bob Erickson, Marjorie Fedyszyn
Do trees dream? In early evening trees speak to one another, it’s been shown, with a steady hum pulsing through below-ground fungal networks. You can hear them, the trees, whispering, crackling between the forest canopy and understory. It’s an alien language but communication nonetheless, as ancient as the stars. Trees are nature’s philosophers, and their dreams are as complicated as ours, if not more so. In this show, six artists eavesdrop on dreaming forests, parsing the wisdom of trees from their dreams and wishes. They whisper in our ears and we listen—we listen quietly and carefully. What they find is not that trees are nature’s great loners but take part in an extensive symbiotic network of living things.
Exhibition: Beleaguered Microcosm: Jave Yoshimoto. Ends November 19, 2021
The Warehouse MKE
Exhibition: China: Then & Now. Photographs by Jan Serr. Ends December 29, 2021.
On first look, the sixty-four photographic works in CHINA: Then & Now – Jan Serr are about China. They depict the “Old Town” Hutong neighborhood streets, the restful Scholar’s Garden, and the ultra-contemporary world of Maglev bullet trains traveling 375 miles per hour. On second look, the exhibition is about the passing of time.
Mirroring these efforts represented in Serr’s subject matter, this exhibition employs large-scale installations to transport visitors from the modern streets of China (New World City) to its quaint historic neighborhoods (Old Town). As you walk through a full-sized Moon Gate, you will enter our “Humble Administrator’s Garden” adorned with meditative scholar’s stones and an ever-soothing water feature, designating a space for visitors to contemplate the vast to the personal.
While she has worked with countless cameras and many types of image-capturing systems, in China Serr chose to be a street photographer with a nimble digital hand-held Nikon. Her operating principle “See it, Shoot it, Be safe, Be gone.” Situating prints of her meticulously curated compositions within this immersive time-traveling exhibition, Serr asks what is remembered and what is forgotten, beckoning visitors to experience China through her. She states “What I saw in China, and how I saw it, is what you see here now. You are standing with me, looking though my camera, looking through my eyes.”
In addition to Serr’s photographs, the exhibition includes a painting of the Tiananmen Square massacre, as well as an original video illustrated by her. Other works includes two large figurative ceramics by Pamela Leung-never before exhibited in the U.S., hand-colored brass rubbings, and other Chinese objects.