Husband & Husband

lon and todd portrait by Kurt Eakle

Photo by Kurt Eakle

Husband & Husband: Lon Michels and Todd Olson

September 15 to November 10, 2017
 Opening Reception: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, September 15, 2017
Gallery Night: October 20, 2017

Portrait Society is pleased to present its first exhibition of work by Lon Michels and Todd Olson as well as the first exhibition where they have shown their work side-by-side.

The couple resides in Lodi, Wisconsin with their dog Bazzy on a hilltop with grounds that they have cultivated to summon a Claude Monet state of mind. Lon Michels began painting as a child under the tutelage of his mother who was an artist. After many years in New York as Louise Nevelson’s studio assistant and a model for Calvin Klein, Michels found his way back to Wisconsin with his partner Todd Olson. He completed his MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007. About nine years ago, Todd also began painting. Because Lon wanted him to have something to do while he was in the studio, the most logical solution was to teach Todd to paint.

Todd’s work has subsequently flourished with a similar but distinctive style. Both compose paintings with detailed, vibrant patterns, which, they say, allude to the positive human and spiritual energy they seek in daily life, having both endured health crises and other challenges in their pasts. The art critic for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mary Louise Schumacher said, “Every face, every fold of fabric, every inch of space is brimming with textile like designs.”

93 X 80 framed acrylic on canvas title icarus and daedalus $38,000

Lon Olson, Icarus and Daedalus, acrylic on canvas, 2017.

In their first side-by-side show, Lon and Todd take over the entire gallery (all three rooms) with masterworks that will be shown for the first time including some paintings of the same subject, such as Icarus and Daedalus, rendered from live models in the studio. Also included is a suite of paintings done while they were in Ecuador last winter, several recent portraits, and paintings based on vistas in Lodi.

 

As a statement of their abiding love for one another as well as a document attesting to the legal rights of human beings to partner and live in freedom and equality, their marriage license, secured in California several years ago, will be on display and central to the theme, Husband & Husband.

Lon Michels’ work is in many prominent collections, including the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, where his 8 x 10 foot interpretation of “The Last Supper,” is on display in the permanent contemporary collection.

lon michels, thai garden, 75 x 51 inches

Lon Michels, Thai Garden, 75 x 51 in., acrylic on canvas.

todd Olson, self portrait

Todd Olson, “Self Portrait.” 54 x 42 in., acrylic on canvas.

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Todd Olson, Icarus, 2017.

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NOW Figuration

Summer exhibition, Portrait Society

July 7 to September 8 (July 21 gallery night)
Opening Reception: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 7
Review: Now Figuration
Closing reception and Artist Talk moderated by art historian Deborah Wilk: 2 p.m. Saturday, September 2. Free, open to the public.
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Herman Aguirre, Portrait of Paloma No. 2, oil on canvas, 16 x 12, 2017.

In 1983, Russell Bowman, then director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, initiated a major exhibition called New Figuration in America. National artists such as Eric Fischl, Robert Longo, David Salle, Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman were returning to figurative modes and, in this exhibition, Bowman asked what they were bringing anew to the genre.  Why was figuration being reinvigorated on the heels of the more conceptual and minimalist 1970s?

Now Figuration (35 years later) will bring together a group of Portrait Society artists such as Lois Bielefeld, J. Shimon, Rafael Salas, Skully Gustafson, Della Wells and Romano Johnson, along with recent art school grads and artists new to the gallery to look back at Bowman’s show for comparison, and ask again:  Why the figure? What has been brought to the discussion? How do the concerns of contemporary artists relate to their historic forebearers?

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Lois Bielefeld, Juanita, digital print, 2017.

Artists include:

Herman Aguirre, (Chicago), Brian James Bartlett (Madison), Tom Berenz, Lois Bielefeld, Steve Burnham, Cameron Bliss (Atlanta), Dominic Chambers (New Haven, CT), Tracy Cirves, Eric Fischl (New York), Skully Gustafson, Romano Johnson (Madison), Jerry Jordan (Madison), Rosemary Ollison, CJ Pyle (Indiana), Rafael Salas, Jacob Salzer, Carri Skoczek, J. Shimon (Appleton), Patrick Stromme, Ariana Vaeth, Della Wells.

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Tom Berenz, Sleeping with Socks, acrylic on canvas, 2017.

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CJ Pyle, Blotto, 10 x 13 in., ink on paper.

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Tracy Cirves

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Skully Gustafson

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Rafael Salas, “Prairie Musician 4,” acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 18 x 24 in., 2017.

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Della Wells, “You, You, You,” acrylic on plastic, 2015.

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Jacob Salzer, “Erin,” oil on canvas, 2017.

 

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Jerry Jordan, “Morning with the Russians,” oil on canvas.

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Cameron Bliss, “Come Back,” acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30, 2017.

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J. Shimon, silhouette, ink on vellum, 2017.

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Steve Burnham, mixed media on unstretched canvas, 2017.

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Ariana Vaeth, “Cat’s out of the Bag,” oil on canvas, 2017.

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Brian James Bartlett, “The Chaotic Entanglement of Ms. Bubbletree,” mixed media, 2017.

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Romano Johnson, “Cross Power Woman,” acrylic and glitter on canvas, 2016.

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Carri Skozcek

Rosemary Ollison: Learning to Live with Abundance

Rosemary Ollison in her living room
Hours: Thursday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
For appointments: 414 870-9930

SPECIAL TWO WEEK ROSEMARY OLLISON EXHIBITION

Opening Reception: June 16, 2017, 6 to 8 p.m. Free.

Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present “Learning to Live with Abundance,”  a special  two-week exhibition of Milwaukee artist Rosemary Ollison’s new work. The public reception is  Friday, June 16 from 6 to 8 p.m.

This exhibition features a re-construction of an installation staged in 2016 at PSG of Rosemary’s living room, with a four-channel video by Ted Brusubardis. New large-scale leather quilts constructed over the past year and recent drawings will also be presented.

IMG_7103Rosemary Ollison, 75,  grew up on a plantation in Arkansas where her grandfather was the horse wrangler. She moved to Wisconsin at age 16, after her grandfather died and the family was asked to leave the plantation. She began making art in 1984 while healing from an abusive marriage and working at a pre-school for disabled children. Her drawings, often done in series, are about being a black woman in America. They are, essentially, celebrations of blackness and womanhood, mirroring self-acceptance and confidence in the way individuals style themselves and assert their personalities through dress and posture. Rosemary has  transformed her small apartment into an art environment, using handmade rugs, fiber works, drawings, duct tape sculptures, beaded works, jewelry, hog bone necklaces and clothing to create a vibrant, joyous space of self-defined beauty. 

IMG_7128Rosemary employs materials sourced mostly from resale stores. Working full time at her art practice, she applies a sophisticated, practiced sense of design to all she touches.  This year she has been focused on a series of large quilts made out of deconstructed leather coats and garments from resale stores. These quilts will be shown for the first time during this exhibition, which will also feature a post-election series of drawings called “Darkness in the Depths of Beauty,” a series of black and white drawings, and an installation that is a reconstruction of her living room with a four-channel video by Ted Brusubardis. 

Ollison says she creates in dialog with God:  “When I am creating I am satisfied, I am free! I no longer just exist, I am alive! I do not feel worthless, hopeless, alone, sad, afraid, ashamed, guilty, down hearted, unloved, uncared for, doubtful, and discontented and the like. . .I can see the real me in my works.” 

IMG_7110Portrait Society featured Ollison’s work in the 2017 Outsider Art Fair in New York City. Her work is in several prominent public collections, including the Chipstone Foundation, as well many private collections.

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Drawn Out

installation view, drawn out

Installation view, Drawn Out.

JOIN US FOR A FREE GALLERY TALK, June 1 at 6 p.m. Hosted by artist Michael Davidson, with Todd Mrozinski, Mark Ottens and Melissa Johnson discussing drawing and their current work.

Portrait Society Gallery

Open hours: Thursday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

Drawn Out, April 7 to June 4, 2017

OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 7, 6 to 8 p.m.

Gallery Night: Friday, April 21, 6 to 9 p.m.

Collaborative epic doodle project/fundraiser: Please add a drawing.
Go Fund Me campaign for drawing project, “On the Wing.”
Review: Urban Milwaukee
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Todd Mrozinski, Cloud 3, graphite on paper, 41 x 86 inches, 2016.

The pencil’s capabilities reach far beyond its humble character. While drawing is a foundational act, it can also soar, defying its role as sketch or notation. This exhibition features inspiring, giant compositions from Todd Mrozinski’s new series of graphite drawings of trees and clouds which stretch up to seven feet long to Mark Ottens’ hallucinational, microscopically detailed 8-foot-long pen drawing, which he refers to as an “epic doodle.”  The exhibition also includes small scale works by Mrozinski, Ottens, Adolph Rosenblatt and recent MIAD grad Melissa Lee Johnson. These artists wield pencils and pens with phenomenal dexterity in this multi-faceted celebration of meticulous mark-making.

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Todd Mrozinski, “Pine Tree,” Graphite on paper, 41 x 68 in., 2016

05. Homage to Corot

Todd Mrozinski, “Homage to Corot,” graphite on paper, 41 x 91 in., 2016

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Todd Mrozinski, “Tree Top 1,” graphite on paper, 41 x 68 in., 2016

08. Rain at Sunset

Todd Mrozinski, “Rain at Sunset,” Graphite on paper, 41 x 88 in., 2016.

 

Todd, Mrozinski, Summer Solstice Full Moon

Todd Mrozinski, “Summer Solstice Full Moon,” Graphite on paper, 41 x 88 in., 2016

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Installation view

Todd Mrozinski returned to the elemental #2 pencil after completing a busy year of painting at Milwaukee’s historic Pfister Hotel as artist-in-resident. When the residency ended, Mrozinski needed to transition back to a slower, private studio mode. He spent several months at home making small drawings of the interior of his house. When he was ready to return to his space at the Nut Factory, a converted warehouse off Capitol Drive, he was also ready to tackle larger graphite drawings. The roof of the studio building provided sweeping views of the city and Mrozinski would go up there to look at clouds. The subsequent pencil and graphite powder drawings were completed in the past year. They range in size from five to seven feet. Mrozinski says, “The nuanced mark making and attention to edge became the visual expressions of liberation, rebirth and expansion which poured into this body of work.” The rigor and spontaneity of Mrozinski’s visible mark making provide a contrast to the notion of immaterial sky and clouds. In each composition,  active pencil driven furies of line bring emotive immediacy to the otherwise pastoral, romantic mood of the drawings. 

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Mark Ottens, A Torrent Released from an Arm on South Division Avenue, 1988, ink on paper, 99 x 65.5 inches, 2013.

Mark Ottens is also a painter, known for detailed, precise, complex abstract patterns, layered under coats of resin. Labor intense and methodical, the paintings defy the hand that made them. Prior to this, about ten years ago, Ottens was an image-based painter, having studied as an undergrad with Roy Yoshida, Karl Wirsum and Kerry James Marshall at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. On New Year’s day in 2013 Ottens, for no particular reason, hauled a giant roll of heavy-weight vintage paper he had been carting around for 20 years out of a closet. Doodling was a practice he had gravitated toward in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as evidenced by the series of drawings on cancelled bank checks included in the exhibition.  It was a way to unwind into the evening and it paired well with beer. The roll of paper that had been lingering in his studio finally inspired him to grab a .005 archival Mircro pen and start drawing. The process, he said, felt redemptive, as if years of thoughts, prior images and experiences tumbled out of his unconscious, including “abandoned buildings, things in poor repair, old signage, early advertising characters, postcards, dive bars, and hobo culture.”

Looking at Mark Ottens drawing

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Mark Ottens, detail, “A Torrent Released from an Arm on South Division Avenue, 1988,” ink on paper, 2013.

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Mark Ottens, pen drawing.

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Mark Ottens, Untitled (checks), ink on cancelled checks, each 2 3/4 x 6 in.,

“Doodling is a means of occupying oneself,” Ottens said, regarding this work.  “A nonverbal, anti-linear way of exploring memory and the subconscious. The telling of certain stories that are difficult to access with words. I was attempting to make an epic doodle. A visual War and Peace, Ulysses or Gravity’s Rainbow in fine-tipped pen.”

It took Ottens nine-months and about 70 Mircro pens to complete the 8 foot drawing. He continues to draw smaller scale, densely rendered abstractions and image-based works that begin within the playful conceptual fold of doodling but evolve into drawings of near perfect, expansive care and detail.

Cowboy Costume_MelissaJohnsonMelissa Lee Johnson, a 2016 graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, works between the practices of graphic design, illustration, poster-making, fine art, journaling and DIY tattooing. While Ottens, a generation older, pulls source material from printed materials, books and cartoons, Johnson’s drawings are littered with 21st century emoji references, on-line disputes, break-ups, make-ups, Tinder drama and betrayals on the social sphere. Basically, her drawing practice is a form of journaling that transports the conventional self-reflective notes of a written diary into new worlds of compelling, brash, funny, self-effacing drawn female wonderlands, both charming and edgy.

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Installation view, Portrait Society.

Adolph Rosenblatt, tree drawingAdolph Rosenblatt (1933-2017) started as a painter, graduating from Yale School of Art in 1956. When his paintings became increasing thick, he swapped out the oil paint for clay and began sculpting his immediate world. Throughout his life as an artist and teacher, Rosenblatt never lost his ability to marvel at the world. He would continually pause to comment on tree shadows falling across the face of a house or look up with astonishment at the branches of a tree interwoven with sky. He sculpted and drew trees his entire life. It is in his later years, however, that the tree drawings start to feel especially reverent. The series featured in this exhibition, on black paper, shows a gestural ease that almost fuses with the moment of looking. One senses his hand moving in joyous response as if dancing with the monumental gesture of the tree.

Artists:

Todd Mrozinski received his BFA in painting from The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 1997 and in 1996 attended The New York Studio Program. He has been in solo and group exhibitions nationwide and his work is in various public and private collections. The natural elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit, as well as his home and everyday objects are his subject matter. His work is produced in series, each series relates symbolically to life experience and grows out of inspiration. Todd was the 2015-16 Pfister Artist-in-Residence, curator of the Pfister Pop-Up Gallery.

Mark Ottens received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ottens lives in Oostburg, Wisconsin. His work has been featured in New American Paintings three times and he was a recent finalist for Art Prize. After abandoning image-based painting about eight years ago, Ottens began drawing again in 2013. A tumult of images seemed to spill from his consciousness, including abandoned buildings, things in poor repair, old signage, early advertising characters, postcards, dive bars, and hobo culture. He has shown his work at Tory Folliard Gallery, the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI; Printworks Gallery, Chicago; the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; Carl Hammer Gallery and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago.

Mellisa Lee Johnson received her BFA in Integrated Studio Arts from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2016. She is a fine artist, illustrator & graphic designer, living and working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As a fine artist, Melissa primarily makes drawings and illustrations, but also explores animation, writing, fibers, painting, and collaborative projects. As an illustrator & graphic designer, she makes a range of traditional & digital work for both print and web. She was a finalist for a Mary Nohl Fellowship in 2017.

Adolph Rosenblatt, (1933-2017), taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1966 to 1999. He earned his art degree from Yale in 1956, where he studied with Josef Albers. Adolph will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, opening June 16, 2017.

McCaw and Budsberg: The Cleft and Shimmering Hour

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Artist gallery talk: Join Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 11, 2017. Free and open to the public.
Review: Diana Bacha, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Review: Kat Murrell, Shepherd Express
Available work, on-line store

 

The Cleft and Shimmering Hour

January 13 – March 26, 2017
Hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday noon to 5 p.m.
207 E. Buffalo Street, Milwaukee, FIFTH Floor, Marshall Building

 

The land and the human struggle to conquer the vicissitudes of climate and resources become themes in two new exhibitions at Portrait Society, opening with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 2017. The exhibition runs through March 26, 2017. Gallery Night is January 20.

“The Cleft and Shimmering Hour,” is an exhibition of photographs, sculptural photographs, and video work by Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg, in collaboration with filmmaker Tate Bunker. 

unspecifiedThe artists’ ongoing projects investigate subjective perceptions of the past, and the disparities between genealogy, archaeology, “official” history and the influence of Hollywood and popular culture. As in previous bodies of work, McCaw and Budsberg assume the roles of pioneering settlers, dressing in character to photograph or film themselves in various staged scenarios. Historical fact, they remind us, is never as substantial and authentic as it might seem.

25coalandice“The Cleft and Shimmering Hour” will feature photographs taken of an installation built for “The Museum of Rooms” at the Chipstone Foundation’s carriage house in Fox Point, Wisconsin. McCaw and Budsberg’s room, titled “A Study for a Character,” functions as a film set embodying the interior life of McCaw’s female character and a subject through which the artists explore their uncomfortable relationship with romanticism and conventional approaches to beauty in art and photography.

Several sculptural photographs will also be included, exploring the picture frame as a psychological construct where the boundary between our immediate surroundings and the reality depicted in the photograph is no longer neatly and conventionally partitioned. The exhibition’s video installation is compiled from footage shot for a longer project called “The Inhabitants.” Encompassing cinematic narrative, sculpture, installation, photography, and performance, McCaw and Budsberg’s film abandons the traditional linear format and instead presents three distinct scenes that create an environment of simultaneous and overlapping moments.

This is McCaw and Budsberg’s second solo exhibition at Portrait Society. Their work was included in the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Other recent exhibitions include Ripon College;  SPACES Gallery, Cleveland; Lynden Sculpture Garden, River Hills; James Watrous Gallery, Madison; Wright Museum of Art, Beloit; Galerie San Nom, Canada; Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN; John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan; Usable Space, Milwaukee. Shana McCaw was recently named curator at Villa Terrace and Charles Allis art museums. They received Mary L Nohl Fellowships in 2008 and 2014.

Ideal State

img_4329A separate exhibition, “Ideal State,”  in the front gallery, features watercolor paintings of the Wisconsin landscape from the estate of Robert Lahmann (1923-2014). Like many post World War II vets, Lahmann returned from the war and attended college on the GI bill, graduating from the Layton School of Art, Milwaukee, in 1949 where he studied with Gerrit V Sinclair (1890-1955). While living on a hobby farm in Monches, Wi and raising a family, Lahmann worked at a variety of jobs including as a sculptor at the Milwaukee County Zoo. He eventually became a machinist at Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, retiring after 20 years.

Even while working full-time, Lahmann executed oil paintings as well as a series of about 400 plein-air watercolor studies done between 1970 and 1995. Before Lahmann headed to his second-shift job at Milwaukee Electric, he would hop in his Chevy Nova and drive into the country where he would park the car and paint the surroundings, often focusing on pastoral scenes, farm land, cows, country homes and the landscape.

img_1365Much like his teacher Gerrit Sinclair and colleague Schomer Lichtner, Lahmann loved the landscapes of Wisconsin but he must have also felt the encroachment of the suburbs as he drove into Brookfield for work. Perhaps this fueled his desire to record and sometimes embellish these scenes. One can picture Mr. Lahmann parked by the side of the road, grateful that he has a few hours alone to paint and that the cows hold still and the clouds are particularly dynamic at this moment, this day.

img_1394Looking at these paintings now, they seem as much fiction as fact, like illustrations in a story book when glowing autumn colors, lazy cows and afternoon rain showers were not tainted by corporate farming practice, hybrid crops, deer ticks and extreme weather conditions.  One can still see these scenes on any rural road, but they resonate against what we’ve lost, namely the family farm and a less contested view of nature. These paintings now seem fragile because they record the slippage of a historic notion of purity. Like McCaw and Budsberg’s work, Lahmann’s watercolors feel familiar but far away — part reality, part fantasy, historic and dreamlike.

Heads or Tails: ceramics and Della Wells

5-headsDates: November 18 through December 23, 2017
Opening Reception: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, November 18, 2016
Gallery hours: Thursday – Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
Gallery Talk with Della Wells: Sunday, December 18, 2 p.m. FREE.
Bonnie North: WUWM radio interview with Della Wells.
Kat Minerath: The Wisconsin Gazette, review
Diane Bacha: Review, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present two new major exhibitions opening November 18 from 6 to 8 p.m.

della-wells-dolls-2“Alice’s Tea Party and Other Musings of a Little Colored Girl,” is a room-sized installation by Della Wells, who was named 2016 Artist of the Year by the City of Milwaukee. Wells is known for her collages, drawings, fabric sculptures, assemblages and quilts. Her art works are often based on personal experiences and family histories.

For this exhibition, Della Wells has created a room of 150 hand-painted fabric dolls ranging in size from 6 inches to five feet tall, engaged in a tea party. Wells said she loved dolls as a child even though they were white skinned. When an aunt finally gave her a black doll, it became one of her favorites along with the ‘pillow’ doll her mother had given her. Wells thinks that her mother had ordered that doll from a cereal company for 25 cents. She was blond, blue eyed with a checkered dress. When Della began making dolls 18 years ago, she did it to stay in touch with her childhood and her mother, Alice, to whom this project is dedicated. Alice was schizophrenic, but undiagnosed and without treatment until Della was 19 years old, making the artist’s childhood a difficult sorting of fact and fiction.

della-with-dollWells says, “I realized that the root of my mother’s mental illness may have been because like so many black little girls in America, they are not seen as having value. America simply sees them as little faceless colored girls and for many of them, America can be as crazy as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland. The dolls are there to help Alice with her journey. Tea parties were important in the African American community, a place to discuss political, church and community business. Sometimes I think of my mother as Alice in Wonderland and would have loved to have had a tea party with her if I could have — if she could have been normal. But she wasn’t.”

Della Wells’ work has been exhibited at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., and Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago, IL. She is a well-respected advocate for black artists in Milwaukee. Her work has been included in various publications including Self Taught, Outsider and Folk art Guide to American Artists, Locations and Resources by Betty-Carol Sellen and Cynthia J. Johnanson.

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Heads or Tails is Portrait Society’s second annual ceramic survey, with this year’s focus being human busts or animals. It is an invitational group project where diverse artists were asked to submit work. At least half of the artists participating are not ‘ceramic’ artists per se but were willing to experiment with the medium.

patchyParticipating artists include: Steve Burnham, Ty Bender, Norman Lasca, Carol Rhody, Darlene Wesenberg, Michael Ware, Melissa Johnson, John Riepenhoff, Brian James Bartlett, Nirmal Raja, Kathryn Corbin,  Mike Newhall, Rory Burke, Meghan Sullivan, Debbie Kupinsky, Linda Kowaleski, Audrey Jerabek, Craig Clifford, Demitra Coupolos, Julia Taylor, Claire Loder, Joan and Melitta S. Pick, Sara Caron, Fred Stonehouse, Colin Matthes, Makeal Flammini, Ariana Huggett, Skully Gustafson and Jessica Laub.

michael-newhallIn addition to the group exhibition, the gallery is bringing the work of renowned ceramic artist, Claire Loder, of Bath, England to the US. Claire has been making bodiless clay heads for ten years. Memory, contemplation and melancholy are perpetual undercurrents in her work as well as the transgressive role of comedy. Feminism is also a recurring subject. steve-burnham-headsNotable in these works is her use of texture applied to the simple round and oval forms of the faces. Within this reductive vocabulary, Loder manages to evoke emotion and personality. She received her BA in 1993 from Bath Spa University and earned her MA in ceramics from the University Wales Institute Cardiff in 2006. Portrait Society will also present a suite of her recent drawings, executed for this show.

For additional images or information, contact Debra Brehmer, gallery director, 414 870-9930, portraitsocietygallery@gmail.com.

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A Social Forever

Elk_141012_1634_00034A SOCIAL FOREVER: Art Elkon

September 9 through November 6, 2016
Reception: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, September 9
Interview: Good Morning, Milwaukee, Blyth Renate Meier
Radio interview: Blyth Renate Meier, WUWM
Review, A Social Forever, Art Elkon: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Gallery Night is October 21.

NEW ON-LINE store: You can now purchase prints from this exhibition on-line.

SPECIAL EVENT: Wednesday, October 26, 6 to 8 p.m. An evening with architect Jim Shields in conversation with artist Blyth Renate Meier. Drinks, food, free parking, half-off first purchase of Good Morning, Milwaukee print. Tickets here

Portrait Society is pleased to present three new photo-based exhibitions for its fall lineup.

Each of the three shows brings material form to projects that were not originally intended for gallery walls. Art Elkon’s pictures were disseminated and became popular on Facebook. Blyth Renate Meier’s black and white architectural photos made daily appearances on Instagram, and Tom Kutchera’s vintage portraits of his Empire Fish company workers were meant for a photo album.

20140906-DSCF1268-41Art Elkon was a beloved Milwaukee figure who was a constant presence on the art and music scenes, routinely taking pictures at art openings and other events and then posting files of images the next morning on Facebook.  Almost a parallel to Bill Cunningham, the famous street photographer in New York City, Elkon was a genial, smiling presence who kept an astute watchful eye on social gatherings.  He died of cancer on August 17,  2015 at the age of 58. This exhibition honors Elkon’s legacy and represents the first time most of these images have been printed and made available beyond social networks.

Elk_101215_6473_04901-8Art Elkon grew up in Milwaukee. He attended University School and then the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He worked for an advertising agency, but spent his lunch hours, nights and weekends “on duty” as a self-appointed social documentarian and visual historian.

(Special thanks to Jon Prown, Chipstone Foundation; Tony Nickalls, Portrait Society; Aideen Brown, intern; and Art Elkon’s family).

Blyth Renate Meier: Good Morning, Milwaukee

Reception: September 9

Blyth Renate Meier has been taking a daily, black and white photograph of Milwaukee buildings for several years and posting them on Instagram. Square format, these images offer a play of gray scale tonalities and geometric pattern. They appear both timeless and timely. Now totaling more than 1000 images, Meier’s project has grown into something substantial. This exhibition marks the first time these images have been printed and presented in material form.

Meier, who was born in Milwaukee but raised in North Dakota, has lived in Milwaukee for about 20 years. She earned master’s degrees in art and film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is also the co-host of a radio show about film, “The Tiny Film Invasion” on WMSE (FM 91.7) on Thursdays at noon.

Fish Empire, KutcheraThe Faces of a Fish Empire, curated by Naomi Shersty

Opening Reception: Friday, September 2 (Project Space)
Review: On-Milwaukee

Former Empire Fish Company owner and amateur photographer, Tom Kutchera, created this unique collection of employee portraits over a period of 30 years starting in the 1960s. Preserved in family photo albums, these photographs capture intimate portraits that honor the individuals who fed Milwaukee and supplied numerous Friday Night Fish Fries – a Midwestern staple. Through a humanitarian lens, Kutchera’s portraits celebrate those who don’t often get commemorated: the production workers behind the scenes. Contemporary photographer Naomi Shersty curates the exhibit.