Agency, Industry, Infinity

Robin Jebavy and Rosemary Ollison

Joy of Life

Robin Jebavy, Joy of Life, oil on canvas, 72×84″, 2013


Rosemary Ollison, detail, crazy quilt, 2016.


Rosemary Ollison, quilt

April 1 through May 28, 2016

Hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment
Review: Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Review: Kat Minerath, Shepherd Express

Portrait Society is pleased to introduce two artists, Robin Jebavy and Rosemary Ollison, in an exhibition that explores domestically situated productivity.

Robin Jebavy (b. 1981), who earned her MFA from the University of Iowa in 2008, creates large scale, complex paintings from still life arrangements of glassware. Jebavy repeats, enlarges, and multiples the clear reflective objects into ornate, pulsating, compositions. The domestic and private realm of glassware, with homey notions of preciousness and utilitarian beauty, becomes induced with a visual and mathematical language that generates increasing expansive and abstract visual fields. Through the repetition and expansion of patterns, Jebavy’s compositions move from an initial simple reference of still life objects toward something infinite and enveloping. Her work was most recently featured in a solo exhibition at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in March 2015.


Rosemary Ollison, installation view.

Rosemary Ollison began making art in 1984 and also works from a domestic ideology. Similar to Jebavy, she collects and arranges things: glass, bracelets, leather, beads, bones and jewelry. Ollison then repurposes these materials into sculptural veils of Rosemary Ollison, installation, Portrait Societypattern and beauty. Ollison has re-designed her small apartment with ingenious compositions of fabric rugs, quilts and pillows; towering duct tape sculptures; hanging curtains of woven leather; and inventive drawings. She also designs clothing, writes
poetry and actively keeps journals. Allison 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.”

A four-channel video installation by Milwaukee’s Ted Brusubardis will accompany Ollison’s exhibition.

Rosemary Ollison, wall of %22Me Too%22 drawings

Installation view, Rosemary Ollison, Me Too portraits, 11 x 14, ink on paper.


Robin Jebavy, Rainbow, acrylic on canvas, 41 x 68 in., 2015.

Robin Jebavy, Amber still life, acrylic, 63 x 38 in.  Robin Jebavy received a B.A. in Visual Arts and Philosophy from Bennington College in 2004, and an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing, with a Sculpture minor, from the University of Iowa in 2008. She has received many awards, fellowships and grants for her work. Jebavy has recently been offered a residency grant at Vermont Studio Center, a residency fellowship at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon, and was selected as a Robert Johnson Fellow at VCCA for a 2014 summer residency and was awarded a Mary L. Nohl Suitcase Export Grant to fund her solo show at ICON Gallery in Fairfield, IA. She has also had solo exhibitions in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Milwaukee, WI. and in Waterford and Waukesha, Wisconsin. Her paintings have been included in group exhibitions in Des Moines, Fairfield, and Iowa City, Iowa; and in Delafield, Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Waukesha, Wisconsin. Robin Jebavy maintains a studio in Waukesha and teaches drawing at Carroll University.

IMG_0291Rosemary Ollison is a self-taught artist who lives in Milwaukee, WI. She began making art in 1984 and for the next 25 years, explored numerous media. She has exhibited her work at the UWM Union Gallery, Indianapolis Public Library, Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, Uihlein Peters Gallery, Peltz Gallery, and Alphons Gallery. This is her first exhibition at Portrait Society Gallery.

image by Heidi parkes

“Learning to Live with Abundance,” installation. Video and sound by Ted Brusubardis.

Ted Brusubardis is a trained percussionist, artist and composer. He earned a BFA from UWM in Economics, and Art & Technology. He uses formal elements of sound design, documentary filmmaking and music composition in his multi media pieces. His work depicts the investigation of identity, through constructed narratives. Brusubardis’ art has been presented locally and nationally, including the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Walkers Point Center for the Arts and Whittier College in Los Angeles. This is his second video installation at Portrait Society.







A person is a noun

(Temporary change in gallery hours: Until the end of the spring semester, the gallery will not be open until 2 p.m. on Thursdays. We apologize for this schedule change). 

A Person is a Noun: Contemporary Portrait Photography

January 22 to March 19, 2016
Opening reception: 6 to 9 p.m. Gallery Night, January 22, 2016
Portrait Society Gallery
207 E. Buffalo Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Review: Kat Minerath, Shepherd Express
Radio interview: Riverwest Radio
Feature article: Lenscratch
Review: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Dean Jensen Gallery
759 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Bamberger, smoker

Tom Bamberger, untitled, 1980s.

A two-part exhibition that looks at the contemporary portrait in photography takes place at Portrait Society Gallery and Dean Jensen Gallery from Jan. 22 to March 18, 2016, with opening receptions on Gallery Night, January 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. at both spaces.

Lois Bielefeld, todd_katie_lucca_scout_006

Lois Bielefeld, “Todd, Katie, Lucca, Scout,” 2015, from Neighborhood.

Large-scale, black and white, hand-printed images from the 1980s by the well-known Milwaukee based photographer and former photography curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Tom Bamberger, join a new body of work called Neighborhood by photographer Lois Bielefeld at Portrait Society. In addition, video and sound artist, Ted Brusubardis, presents a video installation in conjunction with the gallery’s annual Winter Chapel project. Recent UWM photo grad Nick Smith has a series of  work called “Batter” in the Project Space.

Tom Bamberger

Tom Bamberger, untitled, c.1980s.

Dean Jensen Gallery features  a group of young artists who include: Delaney Allen of Portland, Oregon; Natalie Krick of Seattle, Washington; Lisa Lindvay of Chicago; Tom Zust of Sydney, Australia and Kyle Seis of Milwaukee. A selection of work from Sally Mann’s “Family Pictures” series is also included.

Tom Zust, self portrait

Tom Zust, self portrait

The portrait is no longer a predictable utilitarian representation. With social media and cell phone cameras providing continuous means of image rendering and expressivity of ‘self and other,’ the art world has likewise taken enormous leaps into experimentation. There is a heightened awareness of how photographic portraiture can become not just self-exploration but socio-political and cultural discourse. The ever-expandable role of portraiture now transgresses into means of exploration, reflection, investigation and analysis.

Tom Bamberger, Ann

Tom Bamberger, untitled, 1980s.

The two exhibitions were organized by Debra Brehmer and John Sobczak.

Notes on the artists

Tom Bamberger, former photography curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum and one of the city’s most prominent artists, will be showing a group of work from the 1980s. The pictures were made with studio lighting, a 35 mm camera, and an unusual very slow film —ten stops slower than the slowest and sharpest commercial film at the time.  The film was officially called SO 424, a Laser Recording Film.  It required special chemistry to achieve a continuous tone effect. Bamberger created a Point Light source enlarger to preserve the details.  The resolution was many times higher than conventional pictorial films.
Bamberger says, “I wasn’t interested in being old fashioned.  I just wanted the surface, the details, of the photograph to appear to be a solid, like marble.”

His work is included in many public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Institute of Chicago; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Lois Bielefeld is a photographer who recently returned from a 10 week residency in Luxembourg, which was awarded by the Museum of Wisconsin Art. She earned her BFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology and lived in New York City from 2003 until 2010, when she returned to her home state of Wisconsin. She divides her time between fine art and commercial photography. Much of her work is sociological in nature, exploring diverse types of people within their private domains. This new body of work features people and families at night in carefully chosen places in their neighborhoods. This is her third exhibition at Portrait Society. Her previous major project, “Androgyny” presented portraits of androgynous individuals as well as videos and a sound installation staged in a full-scale constructed bathroom. Bielefeld has been the recipient of a Mary L. Nohl Individual Fellowship.

Ted Brusubardis is a trained percussionist, artist and composer. He earned a BFA from UWM in Economics, and Art & Technology. He uses formal elements of sound design, documentary film making and music composition in his multi media pieces. His work depicts the investigation of identity through constructed narratives. Brusubardis’ art has been presented locally and nationally, including the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Walkers Point Center for the Arts and Whittier College in Los Angeles.

Delaney Allen of Portland, Oregon presents a selection of photographs from his series “Painting a Portrait”. His diaristic sequences of pan-genre images are interspersed with text that form lyrical meditations on personal loss, loneliness, and the pleasures, terrors and contentment of solitude. He received his degrees from the University of Texas-Arlington, the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and is an alumnus of Alec Soth’s Little Brown Mushroom Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers. He has been exhibiting internationally since 2010 and his books are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Beniecke Library at Yale University, and the Tokyo Institute of Photography.

Natalie Krick of Seattle, Washington presents a selection of photographs from her series “Natural Deceptions.” In a close collaboration, Krick photographs her mother with a spirited generational banter.  Her images focus on the relationship between feminine artifice, roles, and age as rendered in the saturated, strobe lit, jet-set paparazzi urgency of Krick’s fashion inflected aesthetic. Krick received her degrees from The School of the Visual Arts in New York and Columbia College Chicago. She has been exhibiting internationally since 2011 and was recently awarded the Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellowship. Recent commissions include New York Magazine and The California Sunday Magazine.

Lisa Lindvay of Chicago, Illinois exhibits a selection of photographs from her ongoing series “Hold Together”, an intimate depiction of her immediate family as they contend with the burden of their mother’s deteriorating mental health.  Lindvay’s father and siblings are active collaborators, adding to the narrative complexities within the photographs, and challenging the veracity of familial structures through the editorial privileges of documentary photography.  Lindvay holds degrees from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been included in numerous national and international exhibitions including the Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK and the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, Washington, DC. She was also a finalist for the 2011 Aperture Portfolio Prize.

Sally Mann of Lexington, Virginia, is well-known for her ”Family Pictures,” many of which included in her seminal book “Immediate Family.” The intimate and romantic images, made with a large format camera fitted with an antique lens, document the life of her three children growing up in the rural environs of Virginia and were the object of considerable scandal upon their debut. They continue to exert a major influence on contemporary photographic portraiture. Mann’s work is represented in most important public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her recent book “Hold Still” is a New York Times bestseller and has been nominated for both the National Book Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.

Tom Zust of Sydney, Australia, has images from his ongoing series of self portraits. Zust is critically engaged in the relationship between identity, artifice, and photographic depiction. Inspired by fashion, advertising, and commemorative and documentary portraiture, he prods us with humor, sincerity, and verve to question the ways we editorialize and negotiate our own identities in comparison. Zust is a recent graduate of the University of Western Sydney. We were pleased to debut his work in last years “Independent Phrases & Subordinate Clauses: Photographs by Dane Haman, Jon Horvath and Tom Zust”

Kyle Seis of Milwaukee, Wisconsin continues his analytical investigations into the nature of medium itself, constructing photographs that manifest a trifecta in subject, image, and process.  Seis is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has been the recipient of a Midwest Society for Photograph Education and a Mary L. Nohl Individual Fellowship.

I made this for you: Small gestures in clay

Harvey Opgenorth - Space Volcanoes 2015

Harvey Opgenorth – Space Volcanoes 2015

Dates: November 20 to January 8, 2015
Reception: 6 to 9 p.m. November 20, 2015
Screening: Friday, December 18. Ron Taylor film about sculptor Adolph Rosenblatt, 5 to 8 p.m., free.
Gallery Hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
Related essay: Orphans and Rejects
Review: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

installation, rotter, psgPortrait Society Gallery is pleased to present its first ceramic-based exhibition. Figurative and commemorative ceramics as well as functional vessels will combine into a handmade exhibition featuring small-scale works, perfect for the holiday season.


Colin Matthes

Exhibiting artists include: Rory Burke, Adolph Rosenblatt, Colin Matthes, Harvey Opgenorth, Darlene Rzezotarski Wesenberg, Gary John Gresl, Rudy Rotter, Debbie Kupinsky, Craig Clifford, Gerit Grimm and Meghan Sullivan.

The malleable, amenable intimacy of clay allows for a range of sculptural expressions as artists deal with its textures. Some, like Gerit Grimm, create figurative works with an almost skin-like velvety surface. While others, such as Colin Matthes, retired UWM professor Adolph Rosenblatt and the self-taught Manitowoc artist Rudy Rotter, allow the many marks from the pushing, prodding and pinching of the clay to lend a hand-hewn expressive spontaneity to the work. Both Rotter and Rosenblatt have significant bodies of work in the show. This is the first time an exhibition has focused primarily on Rotter’s ceramics.

adolph rosenblatt, head

Adolph Rosenblatt

What unifies this exhibition is the small scale and primarily figurative aspect of most of the work. Matthes paints simple graphic faces on his hand-built vessel forms. Rosenblatt is well-known for sculpting portraits from life, using the clay like a drawing material. The gestural surface of his work matches the gestural physical quality of each figure. Artist Darlene Rzeztarski Wesenberg creates intimate sculptural scenes and portraits that show people in their environments. New portraits of Mary Nohl, Joseph Pabst and the poets Antler and Jeff Poniewaz will be included.

In addition, Portrait Society has spearheaded a special project where twenty artists were invited to paint portraits of fellow Wisconsin artists (dead or alive) on ceramic plates which were hand thrown by potter Scott Dercks of the Milwaukee Potters Guild. This project was coordinated for the gallery by Rachele Krivichi. All of the plates will be for sale.


B. Mad by Elly Hazard


Didier Leplae by Peter Barrickman


Skully Gustafson by John Kowalczyk


Ron Bittocks by Keith Nelson.


Rafael Salas by James Pederson


Colin Matthes

Orphans, rejects, the flawed, 1

Orphans and rejects, sculpture


Rudy Rotter, family group, 1980s

adolph rosenblatt, cards

Adolph Rosenblatt, card players at beach


Adolph Rosenblatt, Girl reading

Revealing Nature: Pedro Velez and Greg Klassen

Dates: September 11 to November 14, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, September 11, 6 to 8 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

Location: 207 E. Buffalo Street, FIFTH FLOOR, Marshall Building, Third Ward, Milwaukee
Social media: #RevealingNature


Muse in Parking Lot

Pedro Velez, “Parking Lot Muse (Frances)” dimensions variable

Pedro Vélez and Greg Klassen present new bodies of work at Portrait Society Gallery, September 11 through November 14, 2015, in an exhibition titled Revealing Nature.  Curated by Claudia Arzeno and Debra Brehmer, the exhibition brings together two artists who individually consider the entwined relationships between the artist, his or her influences, creative production as well as the relationship these have to both human nature and the natural world.

IMG_7328Vélez, one of three Milwaukee-affiliated artists in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, is known for his paintings and photo collages that use social media references to express commentaries on cultural, political and racial issues. This body of work, Revealing Nature: Pedro Vélez Social and Private Portraits, steps away from these previous explorations and delves into more personal and intimate subject matter. (Additional images from the exhibition)

IMG_7411 In this new series, Vélez looks at the idea of the artist’s muse- in other words, the artist’s source of inspiration. What does this influential person, thing, place or idea say about his or her nature? The artist has revisited past photographic work as well as personal relationships, romantic relationships, break ups and places in order to analyze what tends to spark his creativity.  In an effort to be more self-aware, Velez asks himself why he keeps going back to certain people as sources of inspiration.  The findings were then translated into new portraits, flower paintings, abstracted depictions of the body and intimate photo collages that function as a fractured narrative in which the dynamics of personal and platonic relationships are blurred.

Ros pelo dream state

Pedro Velez, “Rosalyn Mártir as Judith (Dream State),” Dimesions variable

Vélez has re-examined previous work while analyzing past romantic and non-romantic relationships, pinpointing their effect on his work. Subsequently, he has gone back and re-photographed these subjects, creating paintings from the photographs that are most significant to him. The artist has found that certain people are constantly repeated in his work while other people with whom he has had important relationships are barely featured. These muses are not the passive figures of Greek and Roman times, but instead active important protagonists in Vélez’s work.

IMG_7409Rosalyn Martir, a friend of Vélez’s has been the subject of multiple photocollages, including a piece referencing Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, which was censored here in Milwaukee. Mónica Rizzo, one of the artist’s former romantic partners, has also been featured in a variety of pieces—one of the most well known being Ann Lee Lives!, a controversial protest piece where she embodied the popular purple haired Japanese figure, Annlee. Vélez considers Walter Robinson, whom with the artist worked closely at Artnet, as an important muse. This was reflected in the series of work he created for the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Tony Fitzpatrick, and his work, have also surfaced as important muses, as one of the pieces in Revealing Nature illustrates.

In addition, Vélez has realized that over the course of his career, it has not only been people who have served as inspiration for his work, but places and ideas as well. For example, political issues and the city of Chicago, where Vélez long-resided, both constantly serve as sources, or muses, for new artworks.

Greg Klassen, sketch book.

Greg Klassen, sketch book.

Greg Klassen is a Milwaukee-based artist. Klassen’s notion of “Revealing Nature” places the artist, the studio and the natural world in a dynamic relationship that explores how ideas of growth, inspiration, survival, decay and creativity come to fruition. He breaks down the walls between art production and the forces of nature. For example, Klassen has buried his painted canvases in compost piles to let the natural processes of decay color and shape his compositions. He has also brought plants into the studio, tossed them into piles of studio debris, set up a home-made watering system and allowed nature to take its course. This exhibition will feature a room installation, a series of sculptural sketchbooks and a series of collages. Klassen has said of his work, “My art is the design of experiments, the staging of serendipitous expeditions.”


Pedro Vélez
Pedro Vélez’s recent exhibitions include the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York; Morally Reprehensible at 101 / Exhibit, LA; #DrunkDictators, an “On The Wall” installation at Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago; Ransom Notes and Surrender Flags at AREA, Caguas Puerto Rico; No Regrets at Oliver Francis Gallery in Dallas.

His work as both an artist and writer has been discussed in the LATimes, Chicago Tribune, Al Jazeera America, Huffington Post, New York Times, Artforum, Mutual Art, Frieze, Artspace and The Miami Herald among many other publications. For 10 years Pedro Vélez maintained a regular column about the art scenes in San Juan and Chicago for Artnet Magazine. In addition, his writing has been published in Newcity, New Art Examiner and Arte al Día.

Pedro Vélez’s work merges his interest in art criticism (including his own writing) and journalism into what he calls “visual essays” that take the form of large sculptural paintings, photographic collages, and limited edition posters and postcards resembling the look and feel of movie posters. Velez also incorporates text in his work, based on hashtags lifted from Twitter, that are scathingly critical as well as poetically cryptic. Taken together, Vélez’s multi-disciplinary approach creates a vibrant, stream-of-consciousness commentary on a variety of issues, encompassing race, politics, and other aesthetic concerns.

Greg Klassen

Greg Klassen (b. 1965) earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and did advanced study at Kunst Akademie Dusseldorf, Germany. He was one of the last artists to study under Gerhard Richter in the 1990s.

A major exhibition, Perishable Atlas, was staged at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Institute of Visual Arts in 2011. He recently exhibited a collaborative  project at Usable Space, Milwaukee. Other exhibitions include the Watrous Gallery, Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, Jurgen Kalthoff Gallery (Germany).

Portrait Society Gallery

Portrait Society is a progressive, contemporary art gallery in Milwaukee, WI dedicated to the issues surrounding the genre of portraiture. Established in 2008, the gallery showcases both current and historic artists who work broadly and loosely with the conceptual ideas embedded in portrait traditions.


Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Charles Van Schaick


 Dates: June 12 to August 30, 2015


gallery night: Friday, July 24, 2015

gallery hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. And by appointment.

Opening Night images: BY ART ELKON


CLOSING RECEPTION: 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, August 30. Walk through with gallery director Debra Brehmer and talk by Thomas Hellstrom in conjunction with his Project Space exhibition.

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, and Charles Van Schaick are renowned Wisconsin photographers who emerged from three different centuries to garner fame from the gentle peculiarities of their long-term projects. Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to unite them for the first time in this important exhibition.
Wis-Con-Sin: Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Charles Van Schaick will present about 75 photographs that show compelling intersections between these three unique bodies of work. Wisconsin is known as a fertile source of independently spirited artists and environments. This exhibition examines the layered influences between a self-taught artist, a small town photographer and the contemporary collaborative team, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann.

b112ec11Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910 – 1983) was born in Marinette, Wisconsin, but spent much of his adult life in a small house in Milwaukee. He created art there for 40 years amounting to several thousand works in various media. After Eugene died, the work was brought to the attention of Milwaukee Art Museum director Russell Bowman. Besides apocalyptic oil paintings, ceramic crowns and vessels, he and his wife Marie (Eveline Kalke) collaborated on photographs that staged Marie in provocative poses and costumes. Eugene had met Marie at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1940. They married in 1943 and were together until Eugene’s death in 1983. Now 2255internationally famous, EVB (as he is known) has had many museum exhibitions and was included in the 2013 Venice Biennale. The Kohler Foundation in Sheboygan owns and has conserved much of his work. Portrait Society is pleased to present 12 black and white vintage photographs of Marie, printed by Eugene, and one hand-tinted original color portrait. The work is courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York.


Charles Van Schaick, Lutie Frantz in Nude Flexing Back, circa 1880-1940, courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society.

Charles Van Schaick (1852-1946) worked in Black River Falls for more than 60 years as the town photographer in an era before cameras were available to IMG_6248the masses. He opened his photographic studio in 1879. About 60 percent of his approximately 5,700 extant glass plate negatives are studio portraits. The other 40 percent include street scenes, major events in the region, outdoor family and group photos, buildings, picnics and people and their livestock.


Charles Van Schaick, Woman Wearing Hat with Veil, circa 1880-1940, Black River Falls, WI. Courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society.

The Van Schaick collection, housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, was made famous in 1973 when the writer and doctoral student Michael Lesy published the book “Wisconsin Death Trip,” featuring Van Schaick images alongside excerpted newspaper accounts and records from the area and time period. The book was made into a film by James Marsh in 1999. Portrait Society has created a limited edition series of prints in collaboration with the Wisconsin Historical Society that will be available through the gallery. Susan Barnett provided curatorial assistance for this project.

Justin and Dylan, 2011, 8 x 10 gelatin silver

J. Shimon & J. Lindmann, Justin and Dylan, 8 x 10 gelatin silver print, 2011.

Shimon & J. Lindemann have collaborated as artists since 1983, choosing to focus on rural Wisconsin towns not far from where they both grew up. As Wisconsin’s pre-eminent

contemporary photographers, they use antiquarian cameras and printing techniques to record post-industrial settings, rural landscapes, small towns and shifting modes of life. Their rich interchange between place and people sits alongside Von Bruenchenhein and Van Schaick’s works in an associative conversation about human relationships in particular times in history.


J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Amber & Brad in their Backyard (Memphis Clothes), Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 2005 (detail) 34×27 archival inkjet print

A retrospective of their work was held at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, through June 2015 and included a major catalog.


J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, self portrait.

In 2014, Shimon & Lindemann were named “artists of the year” by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and received the Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Award from the Museum of Wisconsin Art this year. They have done editorial work for the New York Times, and their work has been published in Visiting Tom by Michael Perry (Harper Collins, 2012), Unmasked & Anonymous: Shimon & Lindemann Consider Portraiture by Lisa Hostetler (Milwaukee Art Museum, 2008), Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis (Abrams, 2003), Photography’s Antiquarian Avant-Garde: The New Wave in Old Processes by Lyle Rexer (Abrams, 2002), and Wisconsin Then and Now by Nicolette Bromberg (UWPress, 2001).  They have exhibited their prints in galleries and museums in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. They live in Appleton, Wi. where they are associate professors of art at Lawrence University.

Shane Walsh and Rafael Francisco Salas

Shane Walsh: 12th Wave Utopia

Rafael Francisco Salas: Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Opening: Friday, March 20 at Portrait Society Gallery, 5:30 to 9 p.m. and Rafael Salas’ show is also opening simultaneously at walker’s point center for the arts

Discussion: Fop and Hounds, Thursday, April 30, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Join Shane Walsh, his dog Miles, and guest host Michael Davidson in a discussion and wine tasting. Free. donations appreciated.

closing: May 23, 2015

Review: Kat Murrell, Shepherd-Express

Review: Austin Kleon

gallery hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

Shane Walsh In Shane Walsh’s second solo exhibition at Portrait Society, he shifts away from the highly chromatic work in the last show to a suite of tonal black and white paintings. (Click here for exhibition images). These new paintings are littered with references to industrial printing techniques, screen-printing, Ben-Day dots, and transfers and combined with more recent examples of image making technologies such as Photoshop and iphone drawing programs.

psg_install_5Key to this body of work is the use of reproduced/found marks as a palette from which to build, collage and layer gestures. Working only with black and white, the compositions immediately suggest a bygone era as well as the visual logic of the photocopy. The notion of a reproduction or a digital mark translated into paint on canvas heightens our awareness of how much our daily intake of imagery comes from electronic, distanced, non-material sources. get-attachment-3.aspx Upending the notion of originality or uniqueness, these paintings are concerned with a shared contemporary visual vocabulary – of screens and electronic modes of communication. We live in a copy/paste world where sampling, collage and simulation are the norm. Walsh uses this as his starting point. His painting psg_install_6process itself is aligned with a hunting, gathering and re-configuring of sources versus the modernist notion of ‘invention.’ Shane Walsh earned his MFA at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 2006. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Portrait Society included Walsh’s work at Art Basel, Aqua, Miami, in 2013.

Rafael Francisco Salas, Jukebox, oil on canvas, 30 x 60 inches.oil on canvas, Rafael Francisco Salas: Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Rafael Francisco Salas will exhibit a solo show in two venues, via an exciting collaboration with Portrait Society Gallery and Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, with an after-hours stop in the middle. “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” reflects on identity and the tensions played out on the landscapes of rural Wisconsin. Click here for additional images.

rafael_3Lamb+in+death_2_lowresSalas grew up in small towns in Wisconsin, of mixed Mexican and Caucasian descent. In these exhibits he examines the spaces between cultures and how a mixed racial identity can create a distance from both, leading to a kind of cultural isolation. Salas has found inspiration in this liminal space. He explores the topic emotively, summoning the ghost of Tejano superstar Freddy Fender and the sacred lamb from Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece as allegorical reflections on identity, landscape and as objects of devotion all at once. get-attachment-3.aspx Portrait Society will feature an installation that romanticizes a Mexican roadhouse, “The Salas Eat,” creating the atmosphere, symbolism and items of nostalgia from the Mexican-American restaurant his family owned in rural Wautoma, WI. Walker’s Point Center for the Arts will present a series of large-scale drawings and sculpture. Salas also considers the space between the galleries as evocative of the tensions between different races.

snow+and+sky+print_1Velvet+Fender+1.1+hi+resFollowing the opening receptions, (starting at 9 p.m.) participants will be invited to celebrate at a third venue, in the geographic middle, Celito Lindo, 733 S. 2nd Street. A “meat raffle” will be staged with cuts of lamb donated by Salas Farm, the artist’s family’s grass fed sheep farm in Burnett, WI. The event will combine the tradition of the meat raffle commonly held at bars in rural Wisconsin with Latino heritage and food. Attendees will be given a card validating their attendance at each gallery. Both cards can be brought to the event for a chance to win prizes, which include a framed artwork by Salas and cuts of lamb from Salas Farm, his family’s grass-fed sheep farm in Burnett, WI. The event, a communal gathering at a Mexican restaurant, brings yet another layer for the attendees to experience the dichotomy and signifiers that run throughout the exhibition.

Rafael Salas earned his MFA from the New York Academy of Art in 2003 and his BA from Macalester College, St. Paul, MN in 1995. He is an associate professor of art at Ripon College, Ripon, WI.  His work has been exhibited in New York City, San Diego, Boston, as well as many venues in the Midwest including The Neville Public Museum, The Museum of Wisconsin Art, The John Kohler Arts Center, Dean Jensen Gallery, Circa Gallery, Frank Juarez Gallery and Portrait Society Gallery. Salas is also a contributing writer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Lois Bielefeld: Androgyny

Opening: Gallery Night, January 16, 2015, 5 to 9 p.m.

Running through: March 14, 2015

Gallery hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment, 414-870-9930. School groups welcome.

Sales: Prints from this exhibition are for sale at the gallery and are available on-line. 

Interview with Lois Bielefeld, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Video: “The Bathroom” installation.

Article:  Luxembourg residency

Ben by Lois Bielefeld, 2014. 20 x 30 in. archival digital print, Edition of 10. $500. With purchase, a copy of the print will be donated to the Museum of Wisconsin Art, under buyer's name.

Ben by Lois Bielefeld, 2014. 20 x 30 in. archival digital print, Edition of 10. $500. With purchase, a copy of the print will be donated to the Museum of Wisconsin Art, under buyer’s name.

Androgyny: An Exhibition by Lois Bielefeld will open Gallery Night, January 16, 2015, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Portrait Society Gallery, 207 E. Buffalo Street, Fifth Floor, Milwaukee. The exhibition runs through March 14, 2015. In addition, the annual Winter Chapel has expanded to an indoor and outdoor installation. Bruce Knackert has built the indoor chapel and kathryn e. martin has installed a Winter Chapel across the street from Portrait Society at the Mercantile Building.

This exhibition, nearly two years in the making, explores the power and complexity of gender identity and fluidity through a series of photographic portraits, short videos and a large-scale, interactive audio installation. The word “androgyny” means having characteristics that are both traditionally male and female.

Nicholas, 2013

Lois Bielefeld, “Nicholas, 2013.”

Judith Butler’s 1990 book, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, launched the concept of ‘gender performity,’ which challenged the notion of a binary ‘given’ of male/female. In Androgyny, Bielefeld expands assumptions about gender, showing an array of subjects, ranging from grade school children to adults, who don’t fall squarely into an existing category associated with sex and identity.

140412_amaya_017Besides a large-scale audio installation in the center of the gallery space, the exhibition includes 23 portraits. Through research and referrals, Bielefeld found subjects willing to come to her studio, stand on a scruffy floor against a white wall and assume a pose. They were asked to wear everyday clothes. The photos are direct, simple, unmediated variations on the fashion photography Bielefeld engages in professionally for Kohl’s. Each subject, in their willingness to share this aspect of their identity, to literally offer it up for our perusal, assumes a pose and eye contact with the camera that feels both courageous and vulnerable. The emptiness of the photographic background heightens the mood of aloneness which “difference” can evoke, and magnifies the act of self-performance. As the artist says, “The photographs invite the viewers to look, stare, and question, which unfortunately is what happens to the subjects on a regular basis in public.” Essentially, however, these portraits award us all permission to more fully be who we are, no matter what ‘pronoun’ we ascribe to.

Lois Bielefeld, a Milwaukee based photographer, is best known for two previous bodies of work, “The Bedroom,” (2008-2012) and “Weeknight Dinners,” (2013-ongoing), as well as a recent film, “Ladies Out.” She speaks from her own experiences as she tackles the subject of androgyny. “Personally when I was younger,” Bielefeld says, “I was regularly misgendered. It happens much less now (only with children). But I think what brought the project to the forefront to start working on it was watching my girlfriend be misgendered on a regular basis. I distinctly remember another woman look in horror as Jackie entered a public restroom at the airport.”


Lois Bielefeld, “kQween, 2014.”

Like her previous bodies of work which use a cultural, universal norm, like eating dinner or sleeping, to look at similarities and differences in geographic, economic, gender, race and age disparities, Androgyny points a camera and opens up the possibilities that who we are need not be determined by what we are biologically or culturally given.

“In cultures with a binary gender system, such as the U.S, we innately categorize by sex because it is uncomfortable for us to not know an individual’s sex,” says Bielefeld. “For example, the typical first question following the announcement of a pregnancy is if the parents know the sex. Those who do not fit neatly into a category, such as the androgynous or gender non-conforming, are subject to sneaking glances or outright stares, a probing and/or invasive question or two, and incorrect categorization. The issue is compounded and can potentially turn hurtful or violent when individuals choose to present themselves androgynously – to not perform their sex as society expects.”


Lois Bielefeld, “Sara, 2014.”

Lois Bielefeld

Lois Bielefeld is a conceptual photographer and filmmaker as well as a commercial/fashion photographer. She was born in and currently resides in Milwaukee, WI with her girlfriend and daughter. Lois has her BFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology and from 2003-2010 she lived and worked in New York City. She is a 2012 recipient of the Nohl Fellowship and has shown at Inova, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, ArtStart, Portrait Society Gallery, and the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Lois is the recipient of the Luxembourg Artist Residence through the Museum of Wisconsin Art, which will begin in February 2015. Bielefeld is represented by Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee.

The exhibition was organized in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Parkside, Kenosha, and was previously shown there. It was supported by the Mary L. Nohl Suitcase Export Fund and ReStore (Habitat for Humanity).

During the run of the exhibition, work will be available for sale from both of Bielefeld’s previous projects, “The Bedroom,” and “Weeknight Dinners.” In addition, for every “Androgyny” portrait purchased, a print will be donated to the Museum of Wisconsin Art, in an effort to institutionally secure and preserve this important project.


Every year, Portrait Society Gallery invites an artist to build a Winter Chapel. The selected artist can create any type of room they want, with the only requirements being that it has a meditational quality and a place to sit. The intent is to fashion a space in which to contemplate the harsh winter months of the midwest, to settle into a moment of quiet, and to consider the disjuncture in western culture between the sacred and profane.


Collection of Bruce Knackert.

Running through March 14, the Winter Chapel arose as a means of acknowledging our shared condition of psychological hardship and physical duress during the three months of cold.


Collection of Bruce Knackert.This year we are pleased to announce that for the first time there will be two Winter Chapels: One inside by Bruce Knackert and one outside by kathryn e. martin. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design professor Leslie Fedorchuk is dedicating her sabbatical year to researching sacred/secular spaces and artist designed chapels to expand the depth and reach of this project, now in its sixth year. A small catalog with an essay by Fedorchuk will accompany this year’s Winter Chapels.

This year we are pleased to announce that for the first time there will be two Winter Chapels: One inside by Bruce Knackert and one outside by kathryn e. martin. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design professor Leslie Fedorchuk is dedicating her sabbatical year to researching sacred/secular spaces and artist designed chapels to expand the depth and reach of this project, now in its sixth year. A small catalog with an essay by Fedorchuk will accompany this year’s Winter Chapels.

Bruce Knackert, Associate Director of INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts at the Peck School of the Arts, UW-Milwaukee), has spent the past 30 years working at four university art galleries, a university natural history museum and a commercial art gallery. While designing and installing countless exhibitions for other artists, he was also quietly turning his home, a 1911 Arts and Crafts Bungalow in Milwaukee, into a museum/installation. Knackert’s early obsession with thrift shops, rummage sales and, later, eBay, eventually resulted in over 100 crucifixes, dozens of images of the Sacred Heart and assorted rosaries, reliquaries, Virgin Mary figurines. Stemming from his Catholic upbringing, the collection became a kind of domestic, walk-in history of populous religious signs and symbols. En masse, the installation presents a portrait of an icon, Jesus, and let’s us think about how his image was visual conceived and fashioned. In transferring all of this to the gallery, Knackert is also ready to share it. All of the artifacts will be for sale.

Image by Antyony Kuhn, NPR.

Image by Anthony Kuhn, NPR. Buddhist temple, Yushu, China.

kathryn e. martin is well known for her innovative use of unexpected materials. She has completed a number of public art commissions, including a recent project for Milwaukee’s new East Branch Library. She says that her work consciously connects with its users and communicates with its audience through “a targeted conversation with the history, people, and architectural elements found on location.”

martin is building her Winter Chapel installation on the south side of the Mercantile building, 220 E. Buffalo Street, across the street from Portrait Society. Her Winter Chapel will be continuously open to the public and is generously sponsored by Hanson Dodge Creative.

Inspired by a Buddhist temple in the city of Yushu in China, martin will create and string several hundred hand-made white prayer flags. She says of the project, “I want to flood this area in Milwaukee with prayer flags, making a sacred space while providing a commentary on the state of today. I feel a heaviness in our air. I see so much loss, pain and hurt. Despite the goodness here (and especially in my own life), I believe we are in need of prayers. Prayers on both ends, giving and receiving. And I want to give Milwaukee this space, idea and place.”

Kathryn e. Martin earned her BFA at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2001 and her MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts in 2007.

Previous Winter Chapel installations included:
2010: Debra Brehmer, Marsha McDonald, Dave Niec
2011: Linda Wervey Vitamvas
2012: Keith Nelson and Paula Schulze
2013: Kevin Giese
2014: Ashley Morgan

For additional information, please contact Portrait Society Gallery, Debra Brehmer, 414 870-9930,