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Gallery Night on April 16, opened the flood gates of new shows in Milwaukee.

As this quarterly evening of art grazing has steadily grown, it seems that every hair salon, restaurant, shoe-shine shop, bank and law firm is climbing on the bandwagon. As a gallery owner, I could be snobby about this and tell everyone to stick to their own business. But the craziness of the night and the diversity of the art is all part of the fun. So, let the art run wild. Let it flood the streets and brothels. Let it dance in the rain and pour forth from the gutters. Let us be showered with the good and the bad, the confusing and the self-indulgent, the ecstatic and the moribund. Diversity provides richness, but we never seem to learn that lesson fully.

With that said, here is one show that stood out from the crowd and another brief recommendation.

Redline Milwaukee
1422 N. Fourth St., 414-491-9088

Rebecca Shoenecker graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2002 and then earned an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Whoever said grad school doesn’t make you strong is wrong. This young artist is a whirling dervish of inter-media.

The large exhibition space at Redline (Milwaukee’s newest non-profit art center) almost swallows up Shoenecker’s work, but there’s a gentle narrative thread to guide us along. Very clean, illustrational gouache paintings on paper are interspersed with stitched vintage fabric compositions and cut paper collages. All of these figurative odds and ends are pieces of a larger whole, which is the animated video in the first gallery area.

Shoenecker has invented a creation myth, loosely tied to ancient Egypt but swirled through her own gender blender. In the Egyptian creation myth, the first god stands on the first form (a mound of silt by the Nile), which has emerged from dark nothingness. He then does what all good gods do when they are alone: He masturbates. From this act springs the world.

In Shoenecker’s version, it is a woman god who discovers her own anatomy. From her resulting orgasm, a most interesting array of stuff spills forth from her vagina. The charm of the cut-paper characters and storybook video animation works well with her somewhat graphic imagery. There is a sustained and labor-intensive dignity to Schoenecker’s overall enterprise that seems increasingly rare in today’s fly-by, fast-food art world. Through June 19.

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
273 E. Erie St., 414-847-3200

MIAD’s annual senior thesis exhibition features installations by 135 seniors from 11 different majors. Wander the floors of the art school and see how young artists and designers are thinking. Through May 15, Tuesday-Saturday,10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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