When the actor Thom Bierdz returned to the CBS daytime drama “The Young and the Restless” to reintroduce his character of Phillip Chancellor III, he made history of a sort as the first openly gay actor to play an openly gay soap opera character. It was the only way he would return to the show, the Kenosha native said, because he had changed and needed his character to be true to who he is.
Abstract art is a phenomenon of the 20th century that began with the vibrant explorations of the Russian Wassily Kandinsky and Franco-Spanish crackups of the human figure in cubism, courtesy of Monsieur Georges Braque and Señor Pablo Picasso. Life on the cutting edge of art in pre-World War I Europe meant chucking out centuries of convention with daring and bravado. But here in the heart of the Midwest? Not so much. It took a few decades.
Shopping can be a spectator sport. Admiring objects, exploring surprises in design, contemplating the merger of form and function that elevates ordinary things from being merely utilitarian, has its rewards.
For a concentrated dose of high-end design that goes beyond any mere mall experience, there are two shows to catch.
The fall edition of Gallery Night is coming up quick on Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16. But, if you want a head-start on the hoards of art lovers descending on the downtown and Third Ward, there is plenty to see this weekend.
Katie Gingrass Gallery (241 N. Broadway) is hosting their fall exhibition, “Urbane: Portrait of a City.” As the title suggests, there is a great deal of polish in these paintings and drawings, and the pleasure of viewing is their intended outcome. Jody dePew McLeane’s pastels have a rich weight like oil paintings and an undeniably graceful nostalgia. Her images of people in bars and restaurants seem poised between memory and the present. Mixed media compositions by Stephanie Barenz take a multilayered approach to city views, with a precisionist angle that recalls something of a soft-touch Charles Sheeler in the overlays of color and images.
Here we are sitting at Spin Milwaukee, 233 E. Chicago St., and the play tape just spit out the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun.” Somehow it pierced through the popping noise of the ping-pong balls and general chatter of a mostly filled house. From the comfortable perch of the aluminum bar stools, we count five flat screen TVs mounted near the ceiling and two projections of a football game.
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater recently staged an exhibition called “Question: Identity – Fences: Wrong Answer.” The show ended Nov. 13, but is certainly worth noting here. Despite the cumbersome title, the exhibition was a large-scale, ambitious collaboration with the college’s LGBTQ organization to survey primarily Wisconsin-made art about gay issues. Some of the artists included Madison’s Paul Baker Prindle, Whitewater’s Max White and Tabitha Dankert, Lawrence University professors Benjamin Rinehart and J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, UW-Stevens Point’s Dean Jeffrey Morin and Milwaukee’s Julia Taylor. For a small mid-western university, this was a courageous undertaking. Bravo.
The fall art season is upon us and a number of venues are gearing up for Halloween-style offerings that honor the dead.
Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 839 S. Fifth St., opens its annual Dia de Los Muertos exhibition on Fri., Oct. 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. There will also be a parade beginning at 5 p.m. This exhibition, curated by Jose Chavez, brings together the best of both worlds, meaning the local community and the spirit community. Individuals of all ilks create small altars in the Mexican tradition to summon memories of those who have passed. It’s colorful, celebratory and solemn all at once.
Jaume Plensa is obviously a Catalan, both emotionally and geographically. Born in 1955 in Spain, he was in town recently for the dedication of his sculpture, “Spillover II,” in Atwater Park. Dressed stylishly in a black shirt and jacket, wearing a trimmed, graying beard, he endured the rain with bravado, standing in front of the unveiled sculpture sans umbrella, smiling as cameras flashed. His words were brief, no doubt because of the downpour. In part he said, “Thank you for giving one of my children this beautiful home.” He felt privileged to place another of his works above a body of water, where the site and the mood of the piece settled into dialog.
The holiday season is in full force as decorations light up the streets across the city. The Historic Third Ward, one of Milwaukee’s art hot spots, is getting into the spirit with Christmas in the Ward festivities Dec. 3-4. Catalano Square (on the corner of Broadway and Menomonee) will feature live entertainment, reindeer, and Christmas trees for sale. The Third Ward’s annual tree lighting ceremony takes place at 5 p.m. Dec. 3, and a fireworks display lights up the sky over the river at 6 p.m. Shop windows throughout the ward are decorated this year in silver and gold. Votes for favorite windows will be tallied until Dec. 22, and the winner will be posted on the Historic Third Ward website Dec. 23.
I thought for sure Chakaia Booker’s series of sculptures made from re-claimed automobile tires would finally succeed in looking good in the long hallway of the Calatrava addition at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Her show is part of an exhibition series called “On-Site” that focuses on artists interacting with this non-traditional space.
There’s a lot to see on the UWM campus this weekend with the 2010 LGBT Film/Video Festival. But if you find yourself with extra time or simply in search of interesting art shows, there’s plenty to check out.
National Poetry Month (April) has come and gone, but it left us with plenty to ponder and enjoy. Queer poets led the way with several releases of note.
The late gay poet Jame Schuyler’s “Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems” (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010), edited by James Meetze and Simon Pettet, arrives almost 20 years after his passing and nearly 30 years after he received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.