Previous exhibitions

Agency, Industry, Infinity

Rosemary Ollison and Robin Jebavy

April 1-May 28, 2016

A Person is a Noun

January 22-March 19, 2016


I made this for you: Small gestures in clay

November 20-January 8, 2016


Revealing Nature: Pedro Velez and Greg Klassen

September 11-November 14, 2015


Wis-Con-Sin: Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Charles Van Schaick

June 12-August 30, 2015

Shane Walsh and Rafael Francisco Salas

March 20-May 23, 2015

Lois Bielefeld: Androgyny

January 16-March 14, 2015

Lynn Tomaszewski: Phenomenal Agglomerative

November 21-January 9, 2015

Janet Werner and Ariana Huggett

September 26-November 15, 2014

Summer Art Orgy: Romano Johnson and Skully Gustafson

Erik Moore: Half Human

July 18-September 13, 2014

Keith Nelson: Arrangements

April 25 – July 5, 2014

Certificates of Presence: Vivian Maier, Livija Patikne, J. LIndemann

January 17-March 8, 2014

Or so it would seem: Contingency and the Contemporary Portrait

November 22 to January 11, 2014

Andy Lane, Ney Tait Fraser, Makeal Flammini, Maja Ruznic, Carri Skoczek

A Modern Hair Study: Tara Bogart

Hair: Demitra Copoulos

Adornment: Nicholas Grider

September 27 to November 17, 2013

Waste Not: Five Regional Self Taught Artists

(Roger Koenke, Rudy Rotter, Bernard Gilardi, Jeremy Ward and Romano Johnson)

July 26 to September 22, 2013

The Personal is Political: Martha Wilson and MKE

June 8 to July 14, 2013

The Vanishing Point: Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg

March 15 to May 10, 2013

SHANE WALSH: The Available Language

KEVIN GIESE: Winter Chapel

January 18 through March 3, 2013

Decay Utopia Decay: J. Shimon & J. Lindemann

Natural History: Barbara Ciurej & Lindsay Lochman

New self-portraits shot on this collaborative team’s Wisconsin farm. Large-scale cyanotypes, gum prints and ambrotypes were created with a hand built camera.

November 9 to January 5, 2013

Absence Makes, a collaboration between Portrait Society and Nicholas Grider

November 9 to January 5, 2013

A Fop’s Banquet: Destruction, Reconfiguration, Growth

Will Pergl, Ashley Morgan, Michael Davidson, Lynn Tomaszewski, Skully Gustafson, Jack Eigel, Erik Moore.

June 14 to July 28, 2012

BS @ PS: Book show at Portrait Society

April 20 to June 2, 2012

Fred Bell and Livija Patikne: A Conversation

March 15 to March 29, 2012

Rafael Salas: Lucid Dreams
Winter Chapel: Paula Schulze and Keith Nelson
Wisconsin Self Taught

January 20 to March 10, 2012

Giotto’s Eyes: Jean Roberts Guequierre
Every Day: A photo project

December 2 to January 14, 2012

Men of Leisure: Francis Ford and Jack Eigel

September 16 to November 6, 2011

Lavendar Longings: Tracy Cirves

July 15 to September 10

More Than Real: The Death of Kodachrome
Casa Happiness by Julia Taylor/Pilgrimage to Parsons, Kansas by Erik Ljung, Flowers by Livija by James Brozek

May 15 to July 10

Friends: John Riepenhoff, Fahimeh Vahdat, Mona Webb

March 18 to May 1, 2011

Winter Chapel with Linda Wervey Vitamvas and Boris Ostrerov: New Paintings

January 21 to March 11, 2011

Bernard Gilardi: Four Decades

October 15 to January 8, 2011

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann’s Real Photo Postcard Survey Project

Project blog

July 23 to October 4, 2010

Shimon and Lindemann have been long-time collaborators. They began shooting portrait commissions for this project in their studio in Manitowoc, WI in January 2010. Since then, they completed about 60 portraits, all done in the historic palladium printing process in a postcard format.

The exhibition included the commissioned portraits as well as a body of postcard portraits from the early 1900s. A small catalog with a sample of six postcards was published in conjunction with the show and is available through the gallery for $10 (plus shipping).

As the project unfolded over six months, more and more people arrived in Manitowoc to stand on the tape line with very clear ideas of how they wanted to present themselves. Some brought dogs and props or wore special clothes. Each confronted the camera with his or her own ideas of what the moment might contain. A project blog was established to post the portraits as they were printed.

Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, where Shimon and Lindemann are professors in the art department, has generously provided a grant to fund some of the printing and framing of the work.

Shimon and Lindemann’s work was recently also included in the Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. A solo retrospective of their work, “Unmasked and Anonymous,” was presented at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2008. A catalog from this exhibition is also available through the Milwaukee Art Museum.

In conjunction with this exhibition, Portrait Society hosted a companion show of work by London-based photographer Vanessa Winship.  Winship is well-known in international photography circles, but this is her first solo exhibition in the United States. She most recently won the distinguished 2010 PhotoEspana prize. She will be showing a body of work called “Dancers and Fighters” featuring portraits of children done in the Balkans and Turkey, where she lived for a decade.

Big Star

March 19-May 31, 2010

Linocuts of famous writers and artists by Brooklyn artist Carri Skoczek. A catalog is available from this show through Portrait Society. Oil paintings of famous writers by Fred Bell in Gallery B. Skoczek images Fred Bell images

The Intimate Page

November 13-January 4,2010

A large group exhibition of artists’ sketchbook pages as well as larger works of art that look like sketchbook pages. The most intimate kind of art, the sketchbook page is where ideas are noted and thoughts remembered with both text and image. Many artists will be represented in this show, from the well-known to the emerging.  This exhibition is co-curated by Natanya Blanck, art historian at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

Flock of Birds: Amy O’Neill and Michael Kasun
November 13-January 4, 2010 (Gallery B)

Small scale paintings of chickens by Amy O’Neill and Michael Kasun’s annual wall of birds.

Mike Ringo White

September 25 to October 30, 2009 (Gallery B)

Mike “Ringo” White is a self-taught Milwaukee artist who has trolled the beaches of Lake Michigan for 30 years collecting refuse for his collages.

Interior/Exterior: The Home as Portrait
June 26 to August 14, 2009

Paintings by Ariana Huggett, Kay Knight, Keiler Sensenbrenner and Fred Bell.

Mrs. Gaska’s Craft Room. (Gallery B)

Mrs. Gaska’s Craft Room

Carolyn Gaska, plate installationThe artistic impulse comes in many flavors. For some it provides an engaging way to pass the time. To make things is to enter a place of experimentation and mental engagement free from the constrictions of daily routines. The ever fresh possibilities of a “new start” connect the artist with the beauty of unlimited, uncharted potentialities.

Carolyn Gaska (1935-2005), who was a housewife in Monona, Wisconsin, began making things about 20 years ago. Her husband John worked as the Art Director of Channel 3, a Madison television station,John Gaska in front of his home in Madison, Wisconsinfor 38 years. They had three children. Carolyn and John were part of the post Depression era generation, growing up prior to and during World War II, before the cultural transition of the 1950s toward a disposable consumer culture. It is this notion of “making do” and valuing all materials that colors Mrs. Gaska’s large body of work.

Every evening, Mrs. Gaska would occupy the television room with scissors, glue and felt. She would meticulously cut out pictures that she liked from magazines and brush on three coats of Weldbond glue mixed with water, letting it dry between coats.  Then, after letting the pictures dry for another 24 hours, she soaked them until they separated from the paper, leaving a film-like transparency.  She would find other images for the background mrs. gaska's platespatterns on the plates or juice can lids. After matching image to a background, she would glue the cutouts to white felt, then sandwich the cut out with a piece of foam and another piece of white felt, then glue them together, then cut again for the three-dimensional effect.

Mr. Gaska played his role by providing a continuous source of magazines, juice lids, plastic trays from TV dinners and other cast-off materials. Mr. Gaska explained that in his role as TV station art director during the pre-digital era, all the sets, background images and signage were hand crafted. A sense of artistry was part of the family milieu.

What is most significant about Mrs. Gaska’s work is the enormity of her production. Thousands ofseveral thousand doll ornaments, Portrait Societymagnets and ornaments were crafted from the juice can lids as well as a series of handmade dolls documenting 28 different cultures and hundreds of plastic plate collages. It is the mass of her commitment to craft that transmutes a joyous, funny, warm, tender spirit once the work is hung in a gallery installation. Every person who enters Mrs. Gaska’s Craft Room smiles in delighted disbelief at the magnitude of the work as well as the extended commitment to detail. The spirit of the pleasure of making things with one’s hands radiates from the work like an electromagnetic field.

As individual works, each humble collage holds a bit of sweetness. Here is a body of work that embraces popular culture: Disney characters, teddy bears, Barbie Dolls, Muppets, puppies, kittens, snowmen anddetail, Mrs. Gaska's Room, portrait societyAmerican Girl Dolls, without a trace of irony. Each one of us, no matter what role we play in the art world or elsewhere, has a memory triggered by Mrs. Gaska’s collages. These popular toys and characters are present at the childhood core of each of us.

Mrs. Gaska often presented friends and family members with handmade gifts. She occasionally sold some of her work at holiday craft fairs. But mostly, it was the process or the nightly ritual of making things that kept her enchanted. John Gaska said that Carolyn would decorate their house with plates and magnets for each season, offering a rotating display.

After Mrs. Gaska died four years ago, her work was neatly stored in boxes throughout the house. Earlier this year, the Project Lodge, a small storefront gallery in Madison, presented an installation of this work, which is how Portrait Society came in contact with it. We are extremely pleased to have been able to style a whole gallery room of this work for the summer exhibition season in Milwaukee. All of the work is for sale. Prices are $5 for plastic plates, $2 for magnets and ornaments, and $10 for TV dinner trays and other durable plates.

Tender is the Line

April 17 to June 6, 2009

Jean Roberts Guequierre, pen and ink, $250.
Jean Roberts Guequierre, pen and ink, $250.

Opening reception:

Gallery Night, April 17.

Closing reception and catalog release:

Wednesday, June 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. Public welcome.

Regular hours: Fridays and Saturdays, 1 to 4 p.m.

Tender is the Line is a small group exhibition about drawing. Seven artists explore variations of the sketched portrait. They include Paul Caster, Sally Duback, Jean Roberts Guequierre, Steve Ohlrich, Steven Lubahn, Claire Stigliani and Dawn Turner.
From the highly refined portraiture of classically trained Steve Ohlrich to the small, fragile Bruegel inspired sketches of children by Jean Roberts to the contemporary fashion models of Claire Stigliani, the exhibition covers a range of drawn identities.

Stigliani and Turner are graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and this is the first time their work has been shown in Milwaukee. Jean Roberts Guequierre is represented by Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago and has not shown her drawings locally either. Paul Caster is a professor in the drawing department at MIAD. Steven Lubahn was a student of Paul Caster’s and has since forged an art career, with drawing as his primary medium. Sally Duback works in various media, but drawing has always been an important part of her production. Uniquely, Duback works life-sized on large sheets of cardboard or paper. Steve Ohlrich attended the School of Representational Art in Chicago.

This exhibition presents a variety of mark making styles as each artist addresses the notion of drawing from very different perspectives. All of the work will be for sale and most of the artists are available for commissions through the gallery.

Portrait Society is located in Milwaukee’s Third Ward neighborhood at 207 E. Buffalo Street, Suite 526. For additional information please call Gallery Director Debra Brehmer at 414.870.9930.

mallory, steve ohlrichSally Duback, Richard Flagg, detail. $500Claire Stigliani, 8 supermodelsDawn Turner, 2Jean Roberts Guequierre, Child with PacifierClaire Stigliani, Maria Josepha, mixed media, $650.Jean Roberts Guequierre, clown nose, SOLD.Dawn Turner, Detail, mixed media.Sally Duback, Marko with tool, $500, life sized.Steven Lubahn, Nocturnal, charcoal.untitled, Steven LubahnClaire Stiliani, drawingSteven Lubahn, Emma, charcoal.Claire Stigliani, Beauty Pageant GirlMarko, Sally Duback

Paul Caster, graphite on paper, $400.

Claire Stigliani, Marie Antoinette, mixed media. $650

Images from the Nicholas Grider closing reception are at:

Nicholas Grider: Men in Suits

January 16 through March 16, 2009

During the two month run of this exhibition, the photographer Nicholas Grider completed 28 commissioned portraits of “Men in Suits” to fill a gallery project wall. Two other bodies of work by Grider were also included in the exhibition. Grider’s portraits were available for $200 for a 12 x 12 inch print. Although the show has ended, Grider is still available for additional commissioned portraits. Call the gallery at 414.870.9930.

A catalog was published with this exhibition and is available through the gallery for $15. It includes all 28 of the portraits.

Press coverage:

Nicholas Grider at reception.

Nicholas Grider at reception.

Peter Goldberg looking at the Nicholas Grider project wall.

Peter Goldberg looking at the Nicholas Grider project wall.

Kyle Cherek

Kyle Cherek

Joseph Pabst

Joseph PabstGraeme Reid, Museum of Wisconsin Art

Zali Blanck in game room

Zali Blanck in game room


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