The Bindery, The Bubbler, Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts – Vol 31

ON THE RISE: THE BINDERY – MILWAUKEE

Rachel Hausmann Schall

A fresh new face for The Bindery with a complete renovation designed by Galbraith Carnahan Architects, managed by JCP Construction, with neon signage by Jeff Williams and Sign Effectz.

Newly opened in 2021, The Bindery is located right off of Kinnickinnic Avenue in Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood on Ward Street. It’s hard to miss, thanks to the unique storefront and prominent neon sign. The Bindery isn’t just a print shop or a bookstore. It’s a creative laboratory; one that’s community-minded and supports creative, literary, and book arts in Milwaukee. Zachary Lifton is the Founding Director who has spent the last 5 years developing the mission and renovating the space.

The Bindery offers a variety of services including risography, letterpress, metal type foundry, book binding, book restoration, studio, and retail space – to name a few. In addition to services offered, the space also boasts over 8,000 square feet filled with printing and book binding equipment that sits at the center of a large co-working space. The Bindery offers various levels of memberships to local creatives, and are granted access (based on their membership level) to the various facilities for their working, printing or book related needs. With additional spaces beyond retail, co-working, studio, and equipment areas, The Bindery is also home to a resource library filled with books about publishing and printing, as well as classroom spaces that can be rented or booked based on availability and need. The large, open co-working space is surrounded by garage style doors that can be opened in warmer weather to allow fresh air to flow through the space. The writer’s studios are available to renters and offer a quiet, private working space.

Although the pandemic has forced Zach and The Bindery team to pivot many of their plans, they are looking forward to eventually hosting all types of community events in their space; poetry readings, workshops, printing demonstrations, and more (when Covid allows).

The Bindery has a collective team of experts available to assist members with their creative projects and welcomes collaborative ideas from art-makers or creatives looking for assistance in completing their work. They have played an integral role in supporting projects like Moody the Zine, The MKE Big Read, and Milwaukee Zine Fest.

The reimagined space was once the old Wisconsin Book Bindery, a nearly defunct shop that caught Zach’s interest while on a walk one day. With a background in historic preservation, he knew immediately that this old bindery needed to be honored and brought back to life. The renovation process began in 2016, after Zach moved to Milwaukee and purchased the space from the Hertzberg family, whose book-binding roots go all the way back to the 1860s. According to Zach, “preservation is not just about saving the past, but instead it’s about bringing it to the future and activating it,” exactly what The Bindery is doing now to support the publishing, literary, and creative community in Milwaukee.

Visit binderymke.com to learn about The Bindery and its services. Connect with them at @thebinderymke


ON THE RISE: THE BUBBLER – MADISON

Rachel Hausmann Schall

Bubbler Artists-in-Residence Lydia Diemer and Riley Hanick lead an interactive cyanotype workshop for the Bus Buddies Senior Group, a long-term community partner of the Library. Photo credit: Madison Public Library Staff.

Most Wisconsinites will argue that the word “bubbler” refers appropriately to a drinking fountain. However, The Bubbler, an arts engagement program, residency program, and collaborative community hub located in Madison, has transcended that familiar word entirely. The Bubbler’s expansive and experimental programming activates local libraries with workshops, exhibitions, events, and so much more.

The Bubbler isn’t a singular physical space, but rather it lives in many different forms at nine Madison Public Library locations and throughout the community, with Central Library acting as a main hub and formal exhibition space. The Central Library is home to the Bubbler Room and Media Lab, a free studio to explore making and a space to explore digital media production, respectively. Typically, workshops and classes are offered at any of the nine satellite libraries located across Madison. The Bubbler, at any location, is a connector in the community, bringing workshops and creative resources to under-resourced youth and creating inspiring public programming that redefines the purpose and role of public libraries. The Bubbler regularly offers artist-run workshops in spaces like the Juvenile Detention Center, community centers, schools, parks, and other off-site locations to  build unexpected connections and elevate the community’s voice through creative expression.

For the past five years, their artist-in-residence program has played an integral role in bringing creative programming to the community. This year, The Bubbler’s artist-in-residence program has transformed into a cohort model, offering the six participating artists a longer period of time to engage in their work, instead of the previous two-month, open studio environment residency. Artists Papa Kobina Brewoo, Sylvie Rosenthal, Teena Wilder, Amadou Kromah, Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli, and Anwar Floyd-Pruitt make up the newest cohort of residents. The cohort will work directly with library  staff to create programming and organize projects around the theme of “belonging,” especially as it relates to youth within the community.

Carlee Latimer, Program Assistant, describes that “The Bubbler’s staff, community partners, team of volunteers, librarians, artists, musicians, tinkerers, community experts, and visionaries use the library space as a vessel to activate and share creativity with the community.” Head “Bubblerarian,” Trent Miller, founded the space back in 2013, after Madison’s Central Library received funding for a multi-million dollar renovation in 2012. Trent invited a group of artists to bring their ideas to life within the gutted, empty building for a pop-up community art event called Bookless, and unexpectedly, that’s when The Bubbler began to take shape. The name recounts the idea that creativity can “bubble up” to the surface and the team wanted to honor that, with a nod to Wisconsin regionality, of course.

Since its evolution, the space has received a few large-scale grants and secured City funding in order to continue this work and encourage the community to activate libraries in different ways by owning their public spaces with creative endeavors. The Bubbler at Madison Public Library will continue to be a connective community resource, offering holistic and sustainable practices that deepen the public’s connection to creativity and the arts in Madison libraries and beyond. 

Visit madisonbubbler.org for information on their arts programming.


ON THE RISE: THELMA SADOFF CENTER FOR THE ARTS – FOND DU LAC

Rachel Hausmann Schall

’Seismic Shifts, Structural Anomalies, and Impossible Dreams’ by Liz Miller, second floor gallery 2019”. Photo credit: Kasey Busse.

With a long-standing history in Fond du Lac, the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts is situated downtown near many shops, restaurants, and in the heart of the city. Not only does THELMA exhibit artwork and program exhibitions in their gallery spaces, they also host education programs, theater and film events, live music, and large events like weddings or parties (when safety and Covid allows). As their mission describes, THELMA is focused on “enriching the community through the arts.”

The building itself was a Masonic temple built in 1906, although one wouldn’t know it, entering the bright white, contemporary space through the main entrance. Surrounded by floor to ceiling windows, the galleries are adjacent to a large plaza that allows an abundance of natural light to flow in, giving the two gallery spaces a very clean, modernized feeling. The Fond du Lac Arts Council purchased the building in the mid 90s. In 1998, they procured a large donation to renovate the space for arts related programming under a different name, the Windhover Center for the Arts. In 2012, the center received additional donor funding which was used to build a large addition; specifically the art galleries and plaza. At that time, it was also renamed the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts after a local, well-recognized philanthropic family, the Sadoffs. Thelma, a very sweet, smiley woman, was famous for her bundt cakes and would greet anyone who entered her home with a slice.

Shannon Kupfer assumed the role of Curator and Arts Education Coordinator recently at THELMA during the peak of the pandemic. She describes the Fond du Lac arts community as tight-knit, welcoming, and supportive. Although the pandemic has halted much of the programming, the center does have a partner program called THELMA Visual Artists (TVA), which gives local artists a chance to exhibit, share thoughts in small group critiques, and promote news about other exhibitions or events they may be involved with other community members.

Even though the exhibition calendar has been impacted by the pandemic, with many shows being postponed or rescheduled, the galleries will welcome artist proposals again in the future. The space hosts about 6-8 exhibitions per year in each of the two main gallery spaces at THELMA. Past and upcoming exhibitions from notable Wisconsin artists include Jaymee Harvey Willms, Sean Heiser, Shane Walsh, Todd Mrozinski, and Amy Jarvis, among others.

Shannon, also a practicing artist, has a vested interest in accessibility and science and is ready to integrate new and exciting programs like themed exhibitions in the galleries and events that expand opportunities for all types of visitors. She sees THELMA as a “cornerstone of the community” and describes it as a place for everyone, not just the elite. The center has free admission and a welcoming environment, allowing all patrons to enjoy the facilities with ease. It’s clear that the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts will be bringing meaningful arts programming to the Fond du Lac community for many years to come. 

Visit thelmaarts.org for information on their exhibitions.


About Rachel Hausmann Schall

Rachel Hausmann Schall is a visual artist, writer, educator and arts organizer living and working near Milwaukee, WI. She received her BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) in 2015 and became co-founder and co-director of After School Special, a satellite artist collective that supports emerging and underrepresented artists through exhibitions and programming. She has exhibited her painting, sculpture, and installation work nationally at many galleries, alternative, and artist-run spaces. In addition to writing for Artdose, Rachel Hausmann Schall is also a contributing writer for the Chicago based arts publication Sixty Inches From Center and works at Pius XI High School in Milwaukee, WI as an arts educator.