There is so much to celebrate in Wisconsin when it comes to the visual arts. Since 2013, our mission has been to connect and support those working in the creative field whether it being an artist, galleries, curator, writer, institution, art center, and so on. On January 1, 2020 we launched our Publisher’s Pick. It aims to bring more art to the forefront. We encourage you to visit these places.
Wisconsin Quilt & Fiber Museum, Cedarburg
Written by Linda Marcus
Weaving a new narrative for Wisconsin’s Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts.
“It happens a lot,” according to Emily Schlemowitz exhibition curator, “If you’re not paying attention you can miss it”. Schlemowitz is referring to the location of the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts, (WMQFA). This gem is tucked away on the outskirts of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, inside what was formally an1850’s German dairy farm.
The museum is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary next year and has been meticulously carving out a national name for itself by creating touring exhibitions, curatorial catalogues and collaborating with nationally known fiber artists such as Susie Brandt. “The museum’s mission is to exhibit, preserve, and educate about textiles, in all of its diversity” according to Schlemowitz. “As the curator, I try to take an expansive view of fiber art and curate exhibits that reflect the historic and contemporary range of the medium”.
The museum’s 22-hundred piece collection isn’t a stash of your grandmother’s quilts. It’s far from it. To visit, and I’d highly suggest you do, there is everything from Bauhaus inspired hand stitched and indigo-dyed quilts, to historic pieces and coverlets, to over 200 objects from around the world.
In addition, Schlemowitz has been busy curating shows with Wisconsin and nationally known fiber artists on topics such as technology, ecology and recycling “Exhibits are funny things. They are finite. For three months to a year, objects come to share the same space, and afterward, when they’re dispersed, will likely never be in that context or with those works again in quite the same way. I think my role, as a curator is to introduce moments of surprise, and hopefully, wonder. I want the viewer to experience a sense of synergy between the works and the artists”.
Stepping inside the exhibition hall you can feel the interaction. The rustic high ceilings provide room to take in the haptic qualities of the work. “Space plays an important role within exhibitions and in museums in general”, says Schlemowitz. “There are two types of space at work within the museum environment: the physical space, where the interaction between the works of art and the viewers take place, and the intellectual “space” occupied by thoughts and ideas.“
Schlemowitz in 15 months has completed 7 shows and planned out the next two years. One of those is “Remnants” an exhibition of how artists (including me) are making meaning out of fiber fragments we encounter. “I learned that artists who transform the found and physical remnants of everyday life often reveal deeply personal portraits of themselves as well as slices of time and place”, according to Schlemowitz. “Remnants” has been scheduled for February 4th – April 24, 2021.
The museum is also organizing and putting together a “Quarantine Quilt” as a way of allowing artists to express and create during the covid-19 crisis. The result will be on display this summer.
The museum’s address is N50 W5050 Portland Road, Cedarburg, Wisconsin 53102. You may want to set your GPS just to make sure you don’t miss it.
Wallpapered City, Milwaukee
Written by Stacey Williams-Ng
In July of 2019, the Tourism Commission of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin engaged Wallpapered City to manage and execute a series of six murals along North Avenue in the neighborhood known as “East Tosa,” a commercial corridor between 64th and 70th streets. Wallpapered City does not actually do wallpapering at all—the name of our company is a euphemism for covering the town in murals and pictures—it’s an expression meaning, “paint the town red.” We have a vision to bring public art to communities throughout the Midwest and beyond, because we believe that murals are not just decorative. We know that public art creates conversations, that it makes unique new destinations, and that it has the potential to create pride of place. When public art projects are done well, they can build up communities, stimulate the economy, and even persuade tourists to visit there. Many urban planning studies have shown that cities with more public art are perceived as more progressive—very many young professionals see it a sign that a city has a thriving cultural arts scene.
In our initial meetings with Wauwatosa, we learned that they were inspired by these ideas, and wanted to see how public art could engage and beautify their East Tosa corridor— and were ready to invest heavily in this experiment. Over the course of several months, we planned, walked the area, spoke with residents, met with building owners, and put out a widespread call to artists. The actual call to artists reached far and wide— we had applicants from as far away as Portugal, South Africa, Puerto Vallarta! We could hardly believe how many artists were interested in painting murals in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. When the deadline finally came, we had hundreds of entries, and they were each more amazing than the last. Surprisingly, very few local Wisconsin artists applied to the call, as a percentage. Our jury was determined to choose the right balance of talent for the six walls, ensuring that we included artists whose work would be inclusive of different themes, different styles, different points of view, and come from different places. We wanted to ensure that our representative artists were diverse, from different racial heritages, different gender identities, and even different skill levels if possible. And finally, when the six walls were complete, we wanted the walls to work together as a curated set at “face value” in an aesthetically pleasing way, so that even if the viewer didn’t know or care who made them, the works would just look fantastic together, and just perfectly suit the walls and the spaces they were designed for. Think this sounds easy? (No?) Well you’d be right. It was an incredibly difficult process. And on top of all of that, each building owner had to be pleased with his or her selection of mural artist, in order to grant permission. It was a tough job, but in the end, we narrowed what seemed like a million paintings down to six. And the Wauwatosa community has been delighted with the results.
Have you visited the Wauwatosa mural corridor? If so, please reach out to Wallpapered City’s Facebook or Instagram page with a comment, we would love to hear your feedback or see your selfies. For more information on any of the artists who painted the East Tosa murals, or on how to start a mural program in your own community, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Wallpapered City
We help artists find mural projects, and we help building owners and neighborhoods find artists. People call us when they want to sponsor mural programs, and when they want to put up murals. In this way, we serve not only as logistics managers but also as curators, match-makers, and consultants to mural projects. [source: Wallpapered City]