Niki Johnson’s Eggs Benedict, 2013, a portrait woven from 17,000 non-lubricated condoms is currently on view at Portrait Society. Click here for more information.
Niki Johnson announced live on CNN Sunday, April 14, that the sale of the piece would be open to international offers with a percentage of the proceeds going to AIDS research and advocacy groups. For information about the sale of the work, see eggsbenedictproject.com.
OPENING FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2013, 6 TO 9 P.M.
Opening saturday, june 8, 2013, 6 to 9 p.m.
The Personal is Political: Martha Wilson and MKE
Opening reception: Saturday, June 8, 2013, 6 to 9 p.m. Running through: July 14, 2013
Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition that brings together the contemporary work of feminist artist Martha Wilson with regional artists responding to her influential practice.
The Personal is Political: Martha Wilson and MKE will feature one room of Wilson’s recent work (2009 onward) and two rooms of regional artists’ work.
Martha Wilson (b. 1947), a New York based artist, has spent the past 40 years exploring feminist practices. Beginning in the 1970s, working with photography, video and performance, her work has dealt with how human identity is shaped by cultural forces, power relationships, gender, and now, aging. She is best known as the founder of Franklin Furnace (1976), a non-profit space that gave alternative art practices a home.
Also exhibiting are: Laci Coppins, Paul Druecke, Skully Gustafson, Ashley Janke, Niki Johnson, Erik Moore, Joseph Mougel, Amy O’Neill, and Rafael Salas.
The local artists were asked to use the catalog, Martha Wilson Sourcebook, as inspiration for their own work. The catalog was prepared by the artist in conjunction with her touring retrospective (concurrently at Inova). (The book was reviewed in the May 2013 Art News).
Sourcebook is a non-traditional publication that compiles essays, documents from her work, performance ephemera and assorted influential writings from the 1970s and 1980s. In either peripheral or direct ways, each artist was asked to attach some bit of text or thought from the Sourcebook to their work to create threads of interaction with the legacy of feminism.
Martha Wilson’s work in the Portrait Society exhibition is photo-based and uses role-playing and self-portraiture to explore themes of visibility and identity, and, in general, how the ‘personal is political.’ Wilson has stated that much of the early feminist theory has been dislodged from current ideologies. The phrase, “The Personal is Political,” was a feminist slogan in the late 1960s and 1970s. It suggests that individual, small measures count; that the grass roots choices we make have larger ramifications. While this phrase is no longer associated with the feminist movement, its momentum has lead to recycling, commitments to organic food and local food sourcing, and resistance to fossil fuel consumption.
A larger historic survey of Martha Wilson’s work, organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, curated by Peter Dykhuis, and staged locally by Sara Krajewski (Inova director), will open on Friday, June 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Inova, The Institute of Visual Arts, 2155 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, WI. It runs through August 11, 2013.
Martha Wilson will be present at both receptions. Portrait Society will also be presenting several performances during the opening as well as another manifestation of The Store, where un-conventional and extraordinary merchandise is created and made available for sale in conjunction with the exhibition. Storekeeper is MIAD printmaking major, Philip Gattuso.
Additional links to information about Martha Wilson:
New York Times review: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/04/arts/design/04gall.html?_r=0
Art in America: http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/reviews/martha-wilson/
Book Forum Review of Sourcebook: http://www.bookforum.com/inprint/018_04/8603
Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg: The Vanishing Point
March 15 to May 10, 2013
Gallery hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment.
Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present a major exhibition of new work by Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg. This collaborative team works with sculpture, installation and performance. In the past two years, residencies in Wendover, Utah and Death Valley, near the ghost town of Ryolite, Nevada, inspired a series of photographs that present fictive, dramatic accounts of the pair dressed as pioneers pitted against unforgiving landscapes.
“The Vanishing Point” presents the artists as two 19th century, Midwestern farmers, characters who emerged from their earlier work using architectural miniatures. The alien landscapes of the American West represent a kind of unconscious dystopia where the characters long for the fertile soil of the Midwest and struggle in vain to coerce a land of harsh conditions to bear fruit. (There could be an art world metaphor at work here as well).
The exhibition presents several bodies of work from their residencies as well as a video project. While the artists do not consider themselves “photographers” in a conventional sense, the photographs are an extension of their sculpture/performance investigations. Fictive and dramatized, these images also feel timeless and real. Because the vast landscapes of the west are so deeply familiar from decades of films and storytelling, this larger-than-life, romantic quality adds cinematic verity to the humble contrivances of these fabricated personal journeys. History, fantasy and mythical human pursuit expand into themes of place, ancestral memory and the passage of time.
McCaw and Budsberg have collaborated since 2001. They received a Mary L. Nohl Fellowship in the established artist category in 2008. In the past several years, they have had solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Canada. Locally, they have done projects at the Lynden Sculpture Garden (2011) and the James Watrous Gallery in Madison. In May, 2011, McCaw and Budsberg were in residence with MKELAX in Los Angeles, CA. McCaw teaches at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and Cardinal Stritch University. Budsberg is a supervisor at the Steve Lacey 3-D Lab at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
Kevin Giese’s Winter Chapel expanded into a print collaboration: “White Noise”
Each year, Portrait society invites a different artist to build a chapel/meditation space dedicated to our harsh winter clime. Kevin Giese’s chapel features a stand of hollow birch trees with their seams hand stitched together in an act of tender repair.
White Noise is collaboration between four printmakers creating a body of work in response to Giese’s chapel. This is the first time Makeal Flammini, Alyssa Schulte, Jessica Seamans, and Ella Dwyer have worked together on a project. They will employ a variety of print techniques and will also collaborate on hand-painted plates. Their work will be installed on the outer, curved wall of the Chapel and the West gallery wall.
Alyssa Schulte is an artist from Milwaukee. She graduated in 2005 from the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin with a BFA in drawing and painting. She briefly studied painting at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy. She was co-owner, curator and participating designer of Fasten Collective in Bayview, WI. She is a co-founder, curator, and participating artist of Hovercraft, an annual Milwaukee music and art event whose purpose is to support local artists.
Jessica Seamans is an illustrator, screen-printer and performer based out of Milwaukee and Minneapolis, and one half of the tiny design studio Landland. Most of her visual work is characterized by an attempt to merge lively figurative imagery with pristine, stagnant, flattened abstraction. Many of her recent posters can be seen at landland.net.
Makeal Flammini is a contemporary folktale teller, chronicler, and obsessive observer. With a dark sense of humor, she builds an illustrative narrative born from her desire to remember, collect, record and share. Her most recent series of drawings, The Bricks Are Dipped in Marble Dust, explores life within a small community of people on the west coast of Ireland where she lived for nine months in 2012. Makeal is the co-founder and curator of the mobile arts organization, The Parachute Project which hosts one-night exhibitions in unused spaces. She conducts a regular interview series The Peanut Gallery on her blog, and her most recent interview with artist Kati Heck will be published in Believer Magazine.
Ella Dwyer received her BFA in printmaking from the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin. Her paintings and prints attempt to find balance at the intersection between the harsh but honest lessons of the wild and the controlled but delicate environments of man. She is the co-founder and co-curator of the Parachute Project, a mobile arts organization that hosts one-night exhibitions in abandoned spaces. In addition to her work as an arts organizer, Dwyer runs an online vintage shop, Fox and Fawns. She recently participated in a group exhibition, Nicotine Bliss, at Jackpot Gallery in Milwaukee.