Tag Archives: sculptures

The ‘art’ of shopping creatively for the holidays

The holiday season arrives with a multitude of traditions, memories and decisions concerned with the search for perfect, festive gifts. If you are interested in finding things a little out of the ordinary and made with artistic flair, there are a few exhibitions that have made this year’s recommended list. 

A perennial favorite is Art Bar’s Mini exhibition, which features the tag line “tiny art at tiny prices.” Both of these descriptors hold true as the dozens of works on view are less than 4-inches square and cost less than $100, with many options only a fraction of that. 

Acrylic, oil and other varieties of paintings are always plentiful in this exhibition, with everything from abstract works to figurative pieces, landscapes and still lifes available. Some of the boldest works are prints by Daniel Stauff, with figures in black on red backgrounds that take on the character of James Bond movie posters in miniature. Also hunt for Stauff’s oil paintings, where his talents as a portraitist come through in the vibrant light and color he captures in the faces of people on the street or musical icons. 

The Mini installation is changed up a bit this year as more three-dimensional pieces are included, such as pottery mugs by Andrew Linderman and vases by Ken Willert. Laura Rehorst shows jewelry with pendants that are actually tiny drawings. Sculptural earrings are creatively made by Charles Stevens, with elongated pieces that work as wall decorations or embellishments for the ears. Less utilitarian are Leann Wooten’s delightful assemblages, which come together like diminutive dioramas. 

If you find that three-dimensional art is what you seek, the new exhibition I made this for you: Small Gestures in Clay at Portrait Society Gallery should be high on your list of venues to visit. This is the first exhibition of its kind done by the gallery, and as director Debra Brehmer notes, many of the artists involved took this as an opportunity to work in ceramics, although that may not be the medium they are most known for. A sense of inventiveness and the singular beauty of imperfection is what is most sought to bring out a distinctly individual sense of character in each piece.

About a dozen artists are included, including Rory Burke, Adolph Rosenblatt, Colin Matthes and Harvey Opgenorth. The pieces shown span a wide range of styles, from Burke’s mysterious busts and skulls that are caught between beauty and decay, to Opgenorth’s finely tuned, smooth black vessels. Matthes’ work combines his illustrations in richly textured mugs and dishes, while Rosenblatt’s sculpture is definitively figurative, reflecting his work, which is done on-site in front of the people in his art. His figures lounge on beach chairs, recline while reading a book, or are somewhat harried at their desk, as seen in his representation of the former art dealer Michael Lord. 

Darlene Wesenberg, Debbie Kupinsky, Craig Clifford, Gerit Grimm, and Meghan Sullivan are other artists showing original work as well. Gary John Gresl takes a curatorial approach to his installation, which reflects one hundred years of home ceramics, from late nineteenth-century knickknacks to smooth Atomic Age dishware. Noted Wisconsin artist Rudy Rotter is also featured with an installation that introduces his ceramic pieces, a medium that expands on his wooden sculptures of entwined figures. He envisioned them in clay, with smooth, sparkling glazes that retain a sense of optimism and humanity in their naked forms. 

Additionally, Portrait Society is showing Wisconsin Supper Club, a series of works by 20 artists who painted handmade plates thrown by Scott Dercks. Their decorations honor various Wisconsin artists, contemporary and past, and is a compendium of artistic accomplishments. 

Also of interest as a gallery and a commercial space is the Pfister Holiday Marketplace, which is set up in the former Roger Stevens menswear boutique. More than 80 local artists have their work on display, which ranges from handmade cards and prints, to jewelry, scarves and other decorative items. 

Nina Bednarski presents enamel paintings on glass from her Bird Hero series, with various avian species depicted by brilliant colors and noble gazes. The proceeds from her work go in part to nonprofit organizations devoted to wild bird protection and preservation. Dan Kirchen operates on a similar theme with charming birdhouses made in the form of Airstream trailers, a perfect seasonal home. 

In addition to the art objects, a selection of Milwaukee music is available for sale, including CDs by bands such as the Fatty Acids, Nineteen Thirteen, Painted Caves, and De La Buena. As a bonus, selected releases are available on vinyl and cassette. 

The holiday season is one in which goodwill and generosity should flow bountifully. In the spirit of gift-giving, these exhibitions and events are a way of sharing the abundant creative talent in the Milwaukee art community. 


Pfister Holiday Marketplace

424 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Dec. 3: The always entertaining and engaging writer Ànjà Notànjà will offer advice on holiday letter writing. 

Dec. 6 and 20: Paper snowflake cutting will be the activity of the day. Visitors can create their own to hang in the shop or take home. 

Dec. 11: Artist and event curator Renée Bebeau will demonstrate techniques for creating original etchings on mirrored coasters. 

Student/Alumni Art & Design Sale

273 E. Erie St. 

Dec. 3–5: Current and former students of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design offer an array of unique holiday and art items for collectors and gift givers. Entry on Dec. 3, 6-9 p.m., is $20, admission Dec. 4 (5-9 p.m.) and Dec. 5 (12-5 p.m.) is free.

Cream City Creatives Craft Fair 

1038 N. Fourth St.

Dec. 13: More than 40 artists will display their work at Turner Hall Ballroom, including art pieces and various wares such as jewelry, body products, crafts and more. Admission is $3, free for kids 12 and under.


Mini: Tiny Art at Tiny Prices continues through December at Art Bar (722 E. Burleigh St., Milwaukee). Visit Art Bar’s Facebook page for more details.

I made this for you: Small Gestures in Clay continues through Jan. 8 at Portrait Society Gallery (207 E. Buffalo St., fifth floor, Milwaukee). Visit
portraitsocietygallery.com for more information.

The Pfister Holiday Marketplace continues through Dec. 24 off the lobby of the Pfister Hotel (424 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee). Visit thepfisterhotel.com for details.

MoMA: 1st US exhibition of Picasso sculptures in 50 years

New York’s Museum of Modern Art is devoting an entire floor to the sculptures of Pablo Picasso in the first major U.S. museum survey of his three-dimensional work in nearly 50 years.

From his earliest piece, a tiny terra cotta of a seated woman created in 1902, to a head of a woman made in 1964, “Picasso Sculpture” features more than 140 works on loan from private and public collections that showcase the scope, range and variety of his sculptures. They include his bronze “She-Goat” from 1950 and sheet metal and wire “Guitar” from 1914 from MoMA’s own collection.

MoMA will be the only U.S. venue to host the exhibition, which opened Sept. 14 and runs through Feb. 7.

The Spanish artist was trained in painting, not sculpting. This allowed him to be “extremely free in thinking about what is a sculpture,” said Ann Temkin, co-curator of the show. “The degree of invention in terms of material and techniques that he used introduced brand-new ideas that had not been involved in the making of sculpture” before.

His “revolutionary” approach had an enormous impact on other artists, she said.

Picasso, who died in 1973, viewed his sculptures as companions, keeping them in his possession during his lifetime. This partly explains why his 3-D works are less known than his paintings.

“He kept them in the rooms of his home and all the spaces of his studio,” Temkin said. “They were his stuff while in his mind the paintings were something he made to be shown and sold.”

Picasso created about 700 sculptures _ compared with some 4,300 paintings. He made them in phases, sometimes with breaks of several years. Each time he resumed, he would begin with an entirely new set of materials and techniques.

Arranged chronologically, his exhibit begins when the artist was 20 and made more traditional sculptures — modeled pieces in clay or plaster and then cast in bronze, pieces that look “more like the work of someone like Rodin,” Temkin said.

He quickly moved on and started carving in wood after becoming aware of African and Oceanic art.

During his cubist phase, he created sculptures from lumber scraps, cardboard, tin cans and other materials. “That was absolutely brand new,” Temkin said, citing his “Glass of Absinthe,” an edition of six identical bronze sculptures each hand-painted in a different pattern and incorporating a silver spoon and sugar cube.

Then, after about a decade of not making any sculptures, Picasso entered the surrealist phase — a burst of creativity that again “results in new shapes, new forms, new material,” said Anne Umland, who organized the exhibition with Temkin.

This was a new approach in terms of working with welding, the curators said.

He also worked with assemblage, using found objects as in his “A Head of a Warrior,” whose eyeballs are made of tennis balls from Picasso’s tennis court.

A Paris exhibition in 1966 first introduced the public to his work in the medium.

“This is the moment Picasso agrees for the first time to let his sculptures depart from his studio en masse,” Umland said. “It’s the first time the public has the chance to see the scope and range of his sculptures.”

The following year, MoMA presented “The Sculpture of Picasso,” the first survey of his sculptures in North America.

“Picasso Sculpture” is presented in collaboration with the Musee national Picasso-Paris, which lent 40 pieces for the exhibition.

PHOTO: Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973). Bull. Cannes, c. 1958. Plywood, tree branch, nails, and screws, 46 1/8 x 56 3/4 x 4 1/8″ (117.2 x 144.1 x 10.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Jacqueline Picasso in honor of the Museum’s continuous commitment to Pablo Picasso’s art. © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Public art project enriches Milwaukee’s inner-city landscape

It’s only 10 a.m. on a chilly Saturday morning in early November, but about 50 mostly 20-somethings are gathered in the basement of Shiloh Tabernacle in northwest Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. Just hours earlier they were clubbing the night away, but now, joined by a handful of older hipsters, they’re organizing a media tour of a project they hope will help to change perceptions about neighborhoods tainted with the label of “urban blight.”

The project, titled Typeface Milwaukee, was orchestrated by ArtMilwaukee. A loosely organized group of mostly millennial public art advocates and civic boosters, they’re working on bringing a 21st-century vibe to the city’s cultural scene. ArtMilwaukee’s goal for Typeface is both micro and macro — to engender local pride and engage neighborhoods through public art, and also to further Milwaukee’s growing profile as a hub of artistic activity.

ArtMilwaukee has attracted financial support from a who’s-who list of prestigious regional foundations, including Helen Bader Foundation, Wisconsin Arts Board, Zilber Family Foundation and Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The Joyce Foundation of Chicago awarded Typeface a $50,000 grant.

Typeface Milwaukee involves installations in each of four neighborhoods — Harambee, Burnham Park, Sherman Park and Lindsey Heights. Artist Reginald Baylor transformed abandoned or underutilized sites in those neighborhoods with art installations that grew out of conversations (400 in total) that storyteller Adam Carr had with local residents about their experiences living in the areas. 

Baylor, whose brightly colored pop art paintings have drawn comparisons with the energetic humanity of gay artist Keith Haring’s work, hatched the idea for Typeface while driving past what was once the Finney Library on North Avenue and Sherman Boulevard, not far from his current home. Like others who grew up in the area, Baylor remembers the space as one of gathering and learning, not the shuttered detritus of urban decline that it’s been for the past decade.

Baylor took a closer look at the boards covering the windows and felt a sudden inspiration to bring the words of community members back to the space and to other abandoned places with a rich history.

The first phase of Typeface involved a series of community conversations facilitated by Carr. He discovered that despite to the boarded-up windows in the neighborhoods, each was a trove of history and thriving with positive activities.

Carr described playing soccer in one of the neighborhood’s parks while a band from Mexico played across the street and shoppers drifted in and out of a nearby Asian gift store. He recalled an urban garden near a bus stop that was outfitted with scissors so people could snag fresh vegetables off the vine while waiting for transportation. He was surprised to find a block of houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and saw youth volunteers from area churches raking leaves off the lawns of abandoned homes.

“There is just so much going on,” he said. 

The project was constructed to grow out of each neighborhood’s uniqueness as experienced by the people who live there. Rather than Carr’s perceptions, the residents’ words drove the final concept that Baylor chose for each installation. While each involves some creative use of words in its design, as the title Typeface suggests, each is as different as the location it inhabits.

Baylor told the people gathered at Shiloh Tabernacle that the sense of responsibility he felt working on Typeface made it “the most stressful thing I’ve ever done.” But he kept up his enthusiasm by thinking of the positive impact that the presence of public art in the neighborhood would have had on him as a kid, he said.

“I spend most of my time making artwork for myself — for the marketplace,” Baylor said. “This was unique. In this one all of the financials came in advance. I created artwork that had a purpose in advance, and created it by taking content from the community.”

In addition to the backing of major foundations, the project has also been endorsed by public officials, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “Public art, particularly public art that expresses sentiments of neighbors, adds vitality and unity in the area where it is displayed,” Barrett said in a press statement. “A project like TypeFace does something more; it engages people in a common endeavor that builds community strength.”

On view ’Typeface’ installations include:

“Puzzled & Amazed,” a maze described as “a platform for history, memory, and questions from and for the community.”
Location: Five Points, 3418 N. Martin Luther King Drive.

“An Arrangement,” a bouquet of flowers “as colorful as the neighborhood’s cast of characters.”
Location: Burnham Park, at the vacant 31st Street Corner Store, 3028 W. Burnham St.

“Bookshed,” a bookshelf stocked with real conversations.
Location: Lindsay Heights, Franklin Square/Teutonia Gardens, 1420 W. Center St.

A mural of snippets of stories from community youth, adults and elders.
Location: Sherman/Washington Park, the old Finney Library, 4243 W. North Ave.

Art Institute of Chicago opens major Picasso show

The Art Institute of Chicago has opened a major exhibition of works by Pablo Picasso.

The museum is celebrating the Spanish artist and his relationship with the city. “Picasso and Chicago” opened Feb. 20 and features 250 works.

The show includes nearly half of the museum’s own Picasso collection. along with pieces from private collections and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s the Chicago museum’s first major Picasso exhibition in three decades.

The Art Institute was the first museum in the nation to feature Picasso’s work a century ago in 1913.

The new exhibit features paintings, drawings, works on paper, ceramics and sculptures.

The exhibit is open through May 12. It is accompanied by related exhibitions throughout the Art Institute’s other galleries.