Tag Archives: display

‘New Hanji’ joins modern craft with Korean tradition

“Paper changed everything,” notes Chelsea Holton, co-curator of New Hanji: A Korean Paper Tradition Re-Imagined,the latest exhibition at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. The invention of paper around the year 100 A.D. in China opened a new world for documentation, as well as for art. 

Hanji art was originally developed in Korea, before spreading to other civilizations. The handmade hanji paper is produced from the inner bark of mulberry trees and is renowned for its durability. Hanji can be treated like regular drawing paper, but its versatility also allows for it to be used in the production of textiles and ornaments, molded as decorations for vessels or carved and attached to furniture.

Taking this ancient material as a starting point, five artists from Milwaukee and four from Korea incorporate it into contemporary art. Holton says hanji is enjoying something of a renaissance as it is adopted in the West and revived in its native land. 

One artist, co-curator Rina Yoon, is the origin point for New Hanji, Holton says. “(Yoon) had taken a couple of trips back to Korea in the last five years or so, and she took a group of students to Korea in 2012 along with all of the Milwaukee artists in the exhibition. They studied the techniques and all started to incorporate hanji. Rina organized an exhibition in 2013 that went really well — and this seemed like a valuable thing for Milwaukee.”

That prior showing of these pieces occurred in South Korea at the Jeonju Hanji Festival. At Villa Terrace, a historic venue with a similar attentiveness to both present and past, the show represents a melding of traditional and current artistic trends. 

The Milwaukee-based artists, to varying degrees, have used paper mediums previously in their work. They found that having learned of this material, they were each using it in new work. Viewers also will see that there are identifiable approaches that connect their past endeavors with this medium. 

Jessica Meuninck-Ganger has for a long time used a combination of drawing and video in her installations. In “Trace,” footage of Milwaukee neighborhoods passes by in ephemeral light behind small, sculptural buildings made of hanji. It is meant to evoke thoughts of the transitory nature of spaces. An adage about hanji proclaims that it lasts for 1,000 years. Could the same ever be said about today’s built environments? The sense of the present is simultaneously fragile and nostalgic.

Paper’s three-dimensional possibilities are explored by Christiane Grauert’s Block series. Tall and angular, her skyscraper-like forms are a translation of Hong Kong architecture. The carved spaces of the windows are done with a process learned from Haemija Kim, a master of the technique whose work is featured in the exhibition. 

Master Kim, as she is known, was drawn into the traditions of hanji through an interest in handmade paper objects such as sewing boxes. For her study of these and her endeavors in their recreation, she was given the Presidential Award of Excellence by the South Korean government in 2009. 

In the world of fashion, Korean artist Yang Bae Jeon has become interested in the study of traditional garments associated with funerary practices. In the interests of ecological and other concerns, Jeon’s work in the making of hanji burial shrouds has been influential and an example is on display here. 

Yoon also synthesizes the body and methods of artistic construction in her work. She uses jiseung, a process of paper coiling in large wall pieces that produce cloud-like forms in brilliant white. They originate as pieces molded from her body, transformed into dramatic billows of round and sharply pierced shapes in “Earth Between In and Yeon.”

One Buddhist concept Yoon frequently comes back to in her work is inyeon. She says, “The body returns to the earth and emerges from it. The earth and the body are separate and one at the same time.” 

In her capacity as an art historian and writer, Holton traveled to Korea with the artists as well as students in order to produce scholarly research for this project. One of the strengths of this exhibition is that curatorial approach, which introduces visitors to the context and process of this traditional craft. It wraps multifaceted artistic endeavors together, connected through knowledge of the past and the fibers of hanji which reach far beyond their point of cultural origin.

On Display

New Hanji: A Korean Paper Tradition Re-Imagined continues through Jan. 3 at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Ave. Visit
villaterracemuseum.org for more details.

‘Fear 12’ 

Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh St. 

Through Nov. 2 

Ever since its opening, Art Bar has held this yearly exhibition where artists present visual images of all things sinister and strange. This year’s display ranges from sci-fi fantasy digital art to prints, paintings and assemblages delving into the dark corners of the psyche.

2015 Dia de los Muertos Exhibition 

Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 

839 S. Fifth St.

Through Nov. 21 

For 23 years, WPCA has held an annual exhibition featuring the traditional ofrendas, or altars, which commemorate deceased loved ones at this time of year. The ofrendas are made by members and community groups, each a distinct portrait to honor and revive the memory of those who have passed on. 

Day of the Dead Ofrendas 

Latino Arts Gallery, 1028 S. Ninth St. 

Oct. 28 – Nov. 20

Located inside the United Community Center, the Latino Arts Gallery will host a display of ofrendas, honoring the traditions of the community. An opening reception will be held on Nov. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. 

RedLine Milwaukee’s diverse ‘Timeline’

From across the room, Jody Emery’s “Universe” catches light like a cosmos of stars twinkling in the night. Enamel paint glistens in a cloudy crush of three-dimensional texture that builds from the artwork’s surface. Approach more closely and see that this murky constellation is built from metal detritus of various chains, tool bits and other tough implements. 

It is an imaginative recasting and one of the highlights in the exhibition Timeline, on view at RedLine Milwaukee. 

RedLine meets the needs of artists seeking workshop space and exhibition opportunities with the added bonus of not having to create in isolation. It is home to 11 artists-in-residence, some of whom are breaking out in their career after the relative safety of academia and art degrees. Others have been practicing independently and find RedLine to be a home for artistic incubation. 

Many of the show’s strongest pieces reveal an innovative use of materials. Nina Ghanbarzadeh performs artistic alchemy with a disheveled web of dripping, dark lines of dried acrylic paint in “A true human is my desire.” It is sparse, darkly romantic, elegantly composed and hangs together by the merest thread in places. It is perhaps an apt metaphor for the human condition.

Not all is so serious, however. Miles Buss’ paintings are delightful fun. 

With a deadpan touch, his compositions seem charmingly obvious at first. In one, he paints bold, flat, naive trees that could appear on the set of a children’s play. This is a ruse to get us to look more closely at things like the shadow of a tree that breaks sharply when it meets the sky, as though it is cast onto a wall instead of infinite space. 

This touch of René Magritte-styled humor also is found in the collages of Carly Huibregtse. She employs cut-out images of foodstuffs and figures, floating them in glass frames or against colorful backgrounds. The disembodied delectables are part of a series called “I’m Not a Foodie, I Just Eat a Lot.”

Collage is popular in this exhibition. Jaime Bilgo Bruchman brings a highly lyrical approach to her multilayered compositions. Light colors, decorations and diaphanous fabrics create something like undersea kingdoms or lush forest beds. 

Natalie Schmitting uses bits of paper to make collages that similarly suggest a certain environment, but they seem preliminary to her monumental painting, “Reinstate.” The collages are hard-edged and firm in their contours. Blown up to a large scale and articulated in acrylic and oil pastel, the painting offers more nuanced layers through its piles of slashing brushwork. 

In this show, big paintings are well represented and tend to favor expressionistic tendencies. Luke Farley warms up with a number of ink drawings, gone over with a shimmering patina of shellac. He takes his gestural sensations to monumental proportions, and what might originate as representational objects like boats are freely diverted in favor of freeform mark making. 

Skully Gustafson is abstract in his approach, but more exuberant in color and insistent in the demarcation of contour lines. Photographs of the artist in various costumes of lingerie and pinup looks relate to vignettes in the paintings, with pairings that become an expression of character in visual form. 

Katie Ryan’s paintings form a series referencing particular addresses. The pieces are hung on the wall and painted on a curtain around a cushy gold armchair, as though a seat for reminiscences of places once known. 

Something that may seem tiny and precious like a book is also expanded into sizable proportions. Cynthia Brinich-Langlois’s “Book of Hours: Tipi Circle” expands several feet in accordion folds. The landscape drawings and evocative text document the passage of a day, mirroring the traditions of prayer and attention to spiritual time. 

Sue Lawton uses her science-fiction novel The Rift for a work in progress. Intricate fantasy illustrations are shown, along with an audio recording of the story as part of the gallery installation.

Timeline as an exhibition covers a lot of ground — fitting, considering RedLine’s purpose as both an artistic playground and a serious place to get work done. These 11 artists present a broad range of stylistic interests in a show that celebrates the diverse practices within these walls. 

Timeline runs through Oct. 3 at 1422 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. Admission is free. Visit redlinemke.org for more details.

‘Print Tsunami’ illustrates Japanese influences on European art movements

Life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde so famously said.

But Andrew Stevens, print curator for the Chazen Museum of Art on the UW-Madison campus, knows art also imitates itself. An upcoming exhibition at the Chazen clearly illustrates how the expressive forms of one culture permeated the cultural consciousness of another.

Print Tsunami: Japonisme and Paris, which opens July 3 in the Chazen’s Leslie and Johanna Garfield Galleries, chronicles the profound influence of Japanese prints on European art, especially printmakers, of the late 19th century.

The exhibition, which Stevens curated, compares prints of both Japanese and European origin. The goal of the exhibit is to suggest the influence of Japanese art by comparing it to its often better-known European counterparts, he explains.

The influence of Japanese prints was felt throughout Europe but Paris was its epicenter. Artists of all nationalities working in the French capital were touched by the artistic aesthetic of Japanese prints, Stevens says.

“Like many artists who borrow elements, they aren’t very true to their source material,” says Stevens, who has curated the Chazen’s large collection for 27 years. “But they are interested in the shapes and colors and want to take them in new directions.”

One of the reasons Paris was ground zero for Japanese prints had to do with art dealer Siegfried Bing, at the time Europe’s largest importer of the prints. Bing’s gallery, Maison de l’Art Nouveau — the name of which was appropriated for the French “Art Nouveau” movement — was one of several the entrepreneur owned that flooded the Parisian market with Japanese prints.

Unusual subject matter and colors both vibrant and subtle characterized Japanese prints of the time, Stevens says. Despite the fact that their texts were impenetrable and their stories unfamiliar, the prints hinted at a rich culture of artists who had approached the same problems of composition, color and material as artists in Europe, but had come up with altogether different solutions, according to the Chazen’s website.

Some also postulate that the Japanese influence helped give rise to the European Impressionist movement, a claim that Stevens does not fully embrace.

“I have certainly heard that argument and it may have had some impact, but I have a very difficult time with that because they use color very differently,” Stevens says. “But while artists were experimenting with the various effects of Impressionism, people started looking at the Japanese prints, which were very different from European art.”

Print Tsunami draws its material from the Chazen’s vast collection of some 4,000 Japanese prints and 8,000 European prints, barely scratching the collection’s surface, Stevens says. What’s on display has been carefully chosen to compare content and technique.

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s well-known print of can-can dancer Jane Avril appears to draw some of its detail from an obscure and tiny Japanese print of a boatman crossing a river, Stevens says. In the foreground of Toulouse-Lautrec’s print, a hairy hand clutches the neck of a bass violin, whose delicate curve draws the viewers’ eyes up into the central subject matter. In a compared Japanese print by Utagawa Hiroshige, a pastoral scene of water, boats and shoreline, a boatman’s similarly hairy arm and leg curve to the left, a counterpoint to the right-curving bass violin.

“I am very interested in the work of the two artists, and this is an almost perfect mirror-image representation by one of the other,” Stevens said.

The Chazen’s extensive collection of Japanese prints comes with its own interesting backstory that involves another famous, albeit homegrown, artist in his own medium. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright also was bitten by the Japanese print bug and amassed a large collection of his own. 

But the world-renowned architect also was famous locally for not paying his bills. When Wright defaulted on a loan to First Bank of Wisconsin, he was forced to surrender his collection of 4,000 prints, which he had put up as collateral, and they became the property of the bank.

The prints were purchased by mathematician Edward Burr Van Vleck, a major collector who once taught at UW-Madison. His son John Hasbrouck Van Vleck, a Madison professor in physics and mathematics who won the 1977 Nobel Prize in physics, donated the prints to the Chazen upon his father’s death in 1943.

Although considered a fad by many at the time of their arrival in Europe, Japanese prints continue to influence to this day, Stevens maintains.

“My wife and I were walking to campus earlier this week and we found ourselves behind a young woman wearing a skirt which had elements of Katsushika Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ printed on it,” Stevens says. “That’s arguably the world’s best-known Japanese print, and I think it shows that the style is here to stay.”


Print Tsunami: Japonisme and Paris runs July 3 to Aug. 23 at the Chazen Museum of Art, 800 University Ave., on the UW-Madison campus. For more information, visit chazen.wisc.edu.

Supreme Court to review Confederate flag on license plates

The Supreme Court is taking on a free speech case over a proposed license plate in Texas that would feature the Confederate battle flag.

The case involves the government’s ability to choose among the political messages it allows drivers to display on state-issued license plates.

The justices said they will review a lower court ruling in favor of the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group is seeking a specialty plate with its logo bearing the battle flag, similar to plates issued by several other states that were part of the Confederacy.

The case will be argued in March.

A state motor vehicle board rejected the application because of concerns the Confederate flag would offend many Texans who believe the flag is a racially charged symbol of repression. But a panel of federal appeals court judges ruled that the board’s decision violated the group’s First Amendment rights.

Texas offers more than 350 specialty plates, the group said in its court filing. They include plates that say “Choose Life,” “God Bless Texas,” “Fight Terrorism,” as well as others in support of Boy Scouts, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, blood donations, pro sports teams and colleges. 

The state said in its Supreme Court appeal that the decision to reject the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ license plate was not discrimination because the motor vehicle board had not approved a license plate expressing any view about the Confederacy or the battle flag.

Other federal appeals courts have come to differing conclusions on the issue, the state said.

A separate issue concerns whether state-issued licensed plates amount to government speech. The First Amendment applies when governments try to regulate the speech of others, but not when governments are doing the talking.

The court did not act on a second, similar appeal from North Carolina. That case centers on a court ruling blocking the use of the “Choose Life” plate in North Carolina because the state refused also to issue a specialty plate in favor of abortion rights.

The Texas case is Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, 14-144.

Jason Yi goes BIG with installation in Madison’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Pedestrians passing by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s State Street Gallery last month saw what might have looked like a construction zone. Instead, they were witnessing the birth of art.

Using scrap wood and duct tape, Milwaukee artist Jason Yi spent three weeks this summer creating an enormous abstract landscape designed to dominate the museum’s main gallery, located in Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts.

Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence officially opens at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22, but residents of downtown Madison have long known that the South Korean-born artist was creating something special behind the gallery’s plate glass windows. Yi maintained an open-door policy while working, answering questions and explaining his artistic aesthetic to curious onlookers. Both the transparency and interactivity have been part of the exhibit.

“I did something similar late last year at the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, but nothing of this scope and magnitude,” says Yi, an instructor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. “This will be my last installation like this.”

For the installation, Yi has used scrap materials to create a sculpture that resembles a snow-covered mountain range. A complex wooden framework is covered by miles of inch-wide white duct tape, creating a cascading “skin” that flows down the constructed frame from ceiling to floor. 

During the creative process, blue duct tape was used to outline an approximate footprint for the construction, but that outline and a rough idea of the outcome were the only preconceived notions Yi brought to the work. “I knew to some degree what I meant to create, but the vision evolved throughout the creation process,” Yi says. “I call it a ‘random mess,’ but in the best sense of the word.”

The construction is only part of the installation. Yi accented the walls and windows of the gallery with stylized “lightning bolt” lines of silver Mylar tape. On the textured wall surface, the tape reflects distorted images of light and motion, while on the smooth window glass, the tape acts as a mirror.

“There is a balance between the tape and the physical structure,” Yi says. “The structure’s mass tries to balance the weightlessness of the tape on the wall with what is happening in the middle of the room. It’s a balance, or maybe a protagonist/antagonist relationship between the two elements.”

Yi says the mountainous nature of his work is a deliberate choice. His father was a landscape painter, and Yi says that style of art has influenced his own.

“This installation is meant to resemble a landscape, which conjures up different connections between people and cultures,” Yi says. “Seeing our environment in a different way can tell us a little more about who we are and about our relationship with other people.”

The structure is designed so that viewers can easily circumnavigate it, and experience the space in new ways, Yi says. The utilitarian materials, common to anyone who’s created a DIY project, also provide a familiar entry point.

In MMOCA’s lobby, two other Yi works serve as visual “appetizers” to the installation. The entry way is flanked by a foil-and-bubble-wrap “cloud,” sitting atop a framework, and a quartet of pegboard pieces textured to resemble a topographical map.

“I wanted to create an installation designed to take over the gallery space as well as correlate with the lobby space,” Yi says. “I am interested in how the different visual elements speak to each other.”

Yi was also interested in the interactions with passersby. Working outdoors eight to 10 hours a day, five or six days a week, he’s had more than a few conversations about his installation.

“The interactive aspect of the installation allows me to talk to passersby while I create,” the artist says. “They tend to see all the work that goes into the piece and feel sorry for me, so I can share the challenges of the creative process as well. I appreciate that.”

On view

Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence is on display at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Gallery through Nov. 9. Yi will lead a discussion during an Aug. 22 reception 6-9 p.m. The discussion, free to MMOCA members and $10 for non-members, includes music and refreshments. All other exhibition days are free and open to the public. For more information, visit mmoca.org.

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Lesbian teacher sues, says job lost over support for gay history month

A former teacher is suing a central Michigan school district that did not renew her contract following a dispute over a poster raising awareness for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history month.

The Argus-Press of Owosso reported that Brook Johnson filed the suit in federal court in Flint, Mich., against the Corunna Public Schools and some current and former district officials. She is alleging a violation of the 1st Amendment.

The district says it’s declining comment because officials haven’t been served with the lawsuit.

Johnson says she got negative evaluations because she was involved with a high school diversity group that put up a gay Pride-themed display for LGBT history month.

Johnson was the club’s adviser in 2009, when the school board voted to remove a club poster from a school showcase citing community values.

The board later reversed its decision – after hearing from the ACLU.

Johnson’s contract with the district expired in 2011, and she maintains that, after the controversy over LGBT history month, the district wanted her gone.

Johnson’s attorney, Jon Marko, told michiganradio.org, “They wanted to punish her for exercising her 1st Amendment rights. And because they disagreed with her, they were going to drive her out. And that’s what the ultimately did and she was ultimately fired.”