Tag Archives: Nohl Fellowship

Textual pleasures: Art books for summer reading 

Whether or not you are an art aficionado, the stories of artists are interesting tales and told in many different ways — which makes them perfect possibilities for a summer reading list. Ranging from the autobiographical, to the fictional, as well as more scholarly in tone, here are a few selections to consider for the beach, hammock, or porch swing near you.

In the Artists’ Words  

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci. Image: Wikipedia.
Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

To call Leonardo da Vinci “only” an artist is a little bit dismissive. He was an inventor, a designer, a cartographer, a man with a constantly curious mind and a prolific writer. He took copious notes and made drawings about his observations and ideas. His writings have survived for 500 years and become commonly known as Leonardo’s notebooks.

There are innumerable variations and editions, but a wonderfully accessible version is edited by H. Anna Suh under the title Leonardo’s Notebooks: Writing and Art of the Great Master. The writings are organized by chapters which are headed by the larger categories of “Beauty, Reason and Art,” “Observations and Order,” and “Practical Matters.” The translation of Leonardo’s words is handled in a conversational way. You could imagine sitting with the master as he chats about observations of anatomy or architecture, or offers advice to young artists on the practice of their craft. This particular edition is all the richer for the numerous drawing that punctuate the text. Some are meticulous studies for paintings and others are quick sketches, but all in Leonardo’s inimitable style.

Suh is also the editor of Van Gogh’s Letters: The Mind of the Artist in Paintings, Drawings, and Words, 1875-1890. Organized chronologically, over 150 letters offer a first-person account of van Gogh’s life and work. He is often philosophical as well as poignant in his deeply introspective demeanor. Images of the original letters, decorated with drawings, as well as reproductions of other works referenced in the letters, are an intimate blend of text and visuals.

Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi. Image: Wikipedia.
“Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting” by Artemisia Gentileschi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Artistic Fiction 

If drifting into summer with stories suits your taste, Susan Vreeland takes the reader back into the art historical past in her novels Luncheon of the Boating Party and The Passion of Artemisia. Vreeland writes with a mix of fact and fiction as she builds out narratives that incorporate the lives and work of famous artists.

The Passion of Artemisia takes the Baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, as protagonist and narrator. She was a rarity of her time, born in Rome in 1593 to an artist father. She was a prodigious painter herself, and the story of her struggles as well as great successes offer a timeless quality to her story.

Vreeland delves into the late 19th century and the circle of artists, models, and bohemians of the Impressionist era. The famous painting Luncheon of the Boating Party by Auguste Renoir is both the title and inspiration for her novel. Although the author touches on real events and paintings, it is a story that imagines the voices of Renoir and his friends as characters romping through la vie moderne.

Parisian Style  

Author Ross King’s book The Judgement of Paris also takes us into the world of the Impressionists in the late 19th-century. Rather than spinning fiction, he offers a conversational and scholarly approach as he recounts the scandals, controversies, and characters who were at the vanguard of modern art. He begins in 1863 with the famed academic artist

At the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Image: Wikipedia/Art Institute of Chicago.
At the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Photo: Art Institute of Chicago.

Ernest Meissonier, a man most successful in his day. Meissonier represents the established tastes and traditions in art which were becoming directly challenged by artists like Gustave Courbet and especially Edouard Manet with his painting Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) which outraged and excited the art world.  With ample illustrations and footnotes, it is an engaging work of nonfiction.

Similarily, David Sweetman’s Explosive Acts is a thoroughly researched and informative book that brings to life the social circles of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He was a successful French artist as well as a member of the aristocracy. His associates included the writer Oscar Wilde and critic Félix Fénéon, as well as many other creative luminaries who populate the text. While the excesses and dark glamour of the fin-de-siècle are part of the period, Sweetman’s focus brings us into the nightlife famously recounted in Toulouse-Lautrec’s pictures, amplified by the artist’s radical political edges.




A new sculpture by Roy Staab will be part of the exhibition Nature in Three Parts at the Villa Terrace.
A new sculpture by Roy Staab will be part of the exhibition “Nature in Three Parts” at the Villa Terrace.

Roy Staab: Nature in Three Parts 

Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

2220 N. Terrace Ave., Milwaukee

Opening reception, June 2, 6 p.m.

Environmental and installation artist Roy Staab has been commissioned to create one of his unique sculptures made of natural materials in the Renaissance Garden at the Villa Terrace. Joining the contemporary work of Staab is an exhibition of baskets in woven mediums which range from the functional to the highly abstract and sculptural.


Bay View Gallery Night and Jazz Fest 

Various locations

June 3, 5 to 10 p.m.

Bay View Gallery Night has emerged as one of the highlights on the community arts calendar, and for the third year, BVGN is also embracing Bay View Jazz Fest. Altogether, there will be more than 55 local businesses hosting events and exhibitions and 18 free music concerts at 9 different venues. For the full details for an exciting evening, see bvgn.org.


The Greater Milwaukee Foundation Mary L. Nohl Fellowships for Individual Artists 

Haggerty Museum of Art, 13th and Clybourn Streets

Opening reception, June 9, 5 p.m.

The Nohl Fellowship exhibition is a yearly event that offers a validation for the work of the selected artists. For the past thirteen years, grants have been awarded to artists and this exhibition is the revealing of the work done during their fellowship year. Awardees in the Established Artist category are Jon Horvath and Frankie Latina, and in the Emerging Artist category are Ben Balcom, Zach Hill, and Maggie Sasso.

Entertainment round-up for Feb. 20 | From Smithsonian exhibit of ‘cool’ to winner of Milwaukee public art installation


Smithsonian exhibit traces the meaning of ‘cool’

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery examines how the idea of “cool” permeates American culture. On display are 100 photographs of people who defined cool as a word for rebellion, self-expression, charisma, edge and mystery. The 100 who made the cut, trimmed down from a list of 500 names, include musicians, actors, athletes, comedians, activists and writers. At the origins of cool, a term originally born in 1940s era jazz culture, are entertainers such as Fred Astaire and Billie Holiday. The “granddaddies of cool” include Walt Whitman and Frederick Douglass. More recent examples of cool include Marlon Brando and Madonna, counterculture rebels Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol and present-day torchbearers Jay-Z and Jon Stewart.

The exhibit runs in Washington, D.C. through Sept. 7.

HLN hopes to rebrand as TV for the social media generation

CNN spin-off HLN has embarked on plans to reformat its programming as a TV gathering place for social media users. In a departure from its current format, a traditional talk-TV channel, HLN will curate news, trending topics and viral content from all media platforms. The first salvo will be the syndicated Right This Minute, an hourlong show that spotlights emerging Web videos that will air at 10 p.m. Eastern time. The network will subsequently begin incorporating this social media format into existing programs, including Morning Express, News Now, Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew on Call.

Hugh Jackman to host Tony Awards

Producers of the annual telecast celebrating the best of Broadway announced Feb. 11 that Hugh Jackman will serve as the host for the 68th Tony Awards on June 8 at Radio City Music Hall. This will mark Jackman’s fourth time hosting the event. The ceremony will honor plays and musicals that open on Broadway before April 24, with nominations to be announced on April 29.

Last year’s host, Neil Patrick Harris, will be onstage this spring starring in a new production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Biden books ‘Late Night’ debut

Seth Meyers has scored a powerful guest for his first episode of Late Night: Vice President Joe Biden. The vice president’s office announced Biden will be one of Meyers’ guests on the Feb. 24 premiere. A Saturday Night Live alumnus, Meyers is taking over the show from Jimmy Fallon, the new host of NBC’s The Tonight Show. Fallon has executive guest of his own for his first week — first lady Michelle Obama, who will appear on Feb. 20.

Game over for ‘Flappy Bird’

The viral game sensation “Flappy Bird” vanished from the App Store and Google Play this month after its young Vietnamese creator said it had “ruined his life.” The mobile game, a simple yet maddening challenge that tested players to fly a tiny bird through an obstacle course of pipes, was downloaded more than 50 million times from Apple’s App Store. Creator Nguyen Ha Dong told tech website The Verge that the game was making $50,000 a day in advertising revenue. Several blogs speculated that the game’s deletion stemmed either from allegations that fake accounts had boosted the game’s popularity or the original game breached another gamemaker’s copyright. Dong denied the latter allegation on Twitter.

Users who had downloaded the game can continue playing it on their devices, but its removal from Apple and Android stores means new players will not be able to join the fun.

Lady Gaga shoots video at Hearst Castle

The famous Hearst Castle on the California coast has become a film site for Lady Gaga’s latest big-budget music video. According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, filming was taking place at the castle’s indoor blue-and-gold tiled Roman Pool and the outdoor Neptune Pool. Shoots at the castle, a historical landmark constructed for the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, are rare, as the site is now more commonly visited by tourists. Gaga donated $250,000 to the Hearst Castle Foundation and underwrote a $25,000 water supply study prior to filming. She also will make a public service announcement for water conservation and a short feature on the castle.

Which song from her ARTPOP is getting the Gaga video treatment is still unclear, although it is likely to be “Gypsy.”


NEWaukee and ART Milwaukee merge

Milwaukee’s young professional organization NEWaukee and arts development group ART Milwaukee announced earlier this month that they will be combining into one organization and retiring the ART Milwaukee brand. The change is largely cosmetic, as ART Milwaukee was originally an offshoot of NEWaukee and the groups shared several staff members. According to the ART Milwaukee website, the merger will allow “ART Milwaukee’s initiatives and the opportunities for Milwaukee’s creative class (to) grow exponentially.”

The merger officially took place at NEWaukee’s fifth birthday party on Feb. 13.

Rep gets NEA Grant to support ‘History of Invulnerability’

The Milwaukee Rep is among the 895 nonprofit organizations awarded an Art Works grant by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Rep’s $20,000 grant supports its upcoming production of The History of Invulnerability, a play about Jerry Siegel, the man who invented Superman. The production will mark only the third in the play’s history, and the Rep will use the grant to fund state-of-the-art projection systems to enhance the experience. 

“The artistic and technical challenges of this production demand an added level of financial support, so (the NEA’s) grant will enhance the onstage experience significantly,” said managing director Chad Bauman.

The NEA provided $23.4 million in Art Works grant funding this year.

Ex Fabula names Megan McGee first executive director

Ex Fabula, the Milwaukee-based nonprofit committed to strengthening community bonds through the art of storytelling, announced Feb. 12 that co-founder Megan McGee would become the group’s first executive director.

McGee was an instrumental part in helping Ex Fabula grow over the past five years from a small collaboration of local theater and storytelling enthusiasts to a community staple that now hosts monthly storytelling events, a regular iTunes podcast, a community radio show on WMSE and storytelling workshops.

McGee is known locally for her work as a member of the sketch comedy group Broadminded and for involvement with the theater community.

Milwaukee artist Ray Chi selected for East Side Library commission

The Milwaukee Public Library announced on Feb. 7 that multimedia artist Ray Chi would be awarded the commission for a public art installation at the library’s new East Branch, still under construction at 1910 E. North Ave.

Chi’s work will take the form of three “interventions” — described as “rack, serpent, and boulder” — that will transform three elements of the urban landscape: a bike rack, a winding patch of grass and the concrete walkway.

Chi, an associate lecturer at UWM, has lived in the city for 16 years, and recently received a 2013 Nohl Fellowship grant.

His proposal was the community favorite, according to a survey conducted by MPL.