Monday, March 30, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Walker's Point Center for the Arts was selected as one of the grant recipients by the Woman's Club of Wisconsin. In these uncertain economic times, it is wonderful to see the organization that upholds its mission and continues its commitment to the community. To see whom we shared this honor with, see the press release below.
And of course, many, many thanks to our generous donors!


Distribution of Grants to Follow, 12:00pm Luncheon on April 2, 2009 at 813 East Kilbourn Avenue, Milwaukee.

Woman’s Club of Wisconsin Foundation continues to help meet community needs despite hard economic times. Organizations throughout the Greater Milwaukee area will receive financial support.
  • About the WCW Foundation: community service has been a hallmark of the WCW since the club was founded in 1876. The Foundation was officially incorporated in 1965.
  • Purpose of the WCW Foundation: to further worthy charitable, scientific, literary and educational activities.
  • Its Mission: to support philanthropic, education and cultural programs and to ensure, through our expanding endowment, that the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin’s historic commitment to community service endures and flourishes.
Woman’s Club of Wisconsin Foundation has announced this year’s grant recipients in the following categories Arts & Education, Health & Human Service and Youth & Family:

ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Adoption Resources of Wisconsin
Artists Working in Education
Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee
Cathedral Center
Center for Resilient Cities
CORE/El Centro
Dominican Center for Women
Friends of Boerner Botanical Gardens
Grand Avenue Club
Interfaith Senior Programs, Inc.
Literacy Services of Wisconsin
Malaika Early Learning Center
Milwaukee Ballet
Milwaukee Children’s Choir
Mt. Mary College Historic Costume Collection
My Good Mourning Place
Next Door Foundation
Ozaukee Family Services
Renaissance Theatreworks
Skylight Opera Theatre
Sojourner Truth House
St. Marcus School
Walker’s Point Center for the Arts
Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition
Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges
Wisconsin Humane Society

If you would like more information about this event, or to schedule an interview with our Marketing Director, Filippa Weber call the Woman's Club of Wisconsin at (414) 276-5170.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is being said about "Artists of Pilsen" show.

Angelina Krahn reviewed "Artists of Pilsen" for the Shepherd Express. Click here to see what she has to say about the exhibition.
What Gary and I really liked about the review is that it managed to pinpoint our core reasons for doing programming like this and we are happy to see they come through!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Loose thoughts on the cultural planning process(es)

I do remember that I promised to share my thoughts on cultural planning with you! Yes, yes: I have been thinking about it quite a lot, trying to come up with the best way to encapsulate a number of conflicting and tumultuous thoughts. And let me also tell you, studying cultural policy formally doesn’t make forming those opinions any easier. Quite the opposite, it often seems to complicate things – not a bad thing in itself, but certainly not welcome when one hopes for a well-rounded, concise answer.

In any case, Gary and I will be participating in the next gathering of the Milwaukee Creative Coalition that is taking place at the Italian Community Center the upcoming Wednesday and I do hope that my rather skeptical views of the whole process will change after that meeting. As long as we can really get involved and the process can indeed become more collective, perhaps my outlook will brighten up. I surely hope so.

Not without caution I want to say that so far I have felt very doubtful about the entire process initiated here, chiefly because I don’t believe that a top-down planning approach can generate a kind of popular mandate that is necessary to keep whatever plan is conceived of alive for an extended period of time. I admit I do share Peter Goldberg’s concern of an expensive, slick report that will be collecting dust on some bureaucrat’s shelf for the next 10 or 20 years.

However, what worries me even more about the process is its emphasis on the notion of “creative economy.” Mary Louise Schumacher mentioned this when she criticized what appears to be a blind adherence to Richard Florida’s discourse on her blog. I am worried primarily because I absolutely do not want economy and culture to become synonymous. Obviously, it would be both naïve and irresponsible to deny the connections between the two. We, artists, do have to eat and in the ideal world, we would rather not have day jobs, I assure you. However, the use of the two distinct concepts as practically interchangeable is highly dangerous. It can easily obscure and confound what our priorities should be.

If Milwaukee needs any kind of plan, it needs a cultural plan. If we’re lucky, creative economy that so many seem to stake our future on (a whole separate debate) might arise from our culture, but there is no way it is going to happen the other way around. Consider this a chicken and an egg problem, but let me assure you: I am strongly convinced that in the case of culture/creative economy dilemma, it is very clear to me what is comes first and what – second. You can’t institute culture through the top-down approach; however, you can certainly help nourish it through sensible and sensitive policies.

When Rex Winsome commented on my previous blog post, he expressed doubt about possibility of grass-root organizing on the city-scale. However, as Chicago’s example clearly shows, with enough stamina and determination, it can be done. Chicago Cultural Plan (dating back to 1985) was created through a long (yes, very long) process of micro-scale meetings. As Michael Dorf, director of the Plan poetically described:

We met in church basements in West Town and bank boardrooms in Albany Park. In union halls in South Chicago and park field houses in Austin. In libraries, movie houses, schools ... dance studios, community centers, theaters, museums ... and in every other place where people could come together. And they came. They came to South Shore in the middle of a blizzard and to Beverly in the midst of a summer thunderstorm. To Pilsen on a dark Wednesday night and to Lincoln Square on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Parents came, and kids came, and businessmen, and aldermen, and teachers, and librarians, and historians, and artists and artisans of every kind. They told us of ways to use the arts in the everyday life of the city. They told us of the joy the arts bring to the soul. We realized again and again the central role and image in the world at large. In all, thousands of Chicagoans participated in setting forth a vision for the cultural future of Chicago. They are the authors of the Chicago Cultural Plan.

The thing is, the Plan wouldn’t have looked much different, had it been written by the Department of Cultural Affairs (Chicago has one). Yet, it was giving the people the sense of ownership and agency that in the long run made the plan a “success.” It is partially this grass-root initiated support for culture that lets Mayor Daley get away with the multi-million dollar deficit on the Millennium Park. By saying all this I don’t mean that Chicago is a scene we should model ourselves after, but I merely want to indicate that certain processes are possible, with enough political will and social responsibility behind them. If Milwaukee’s Creative Coalition is indeed able to expand its base (and I certainly hope so), we might be ok, provided we put the clearly defined culture first.

Professional development workshops for artists this Saturday!

If you’re an artist looking to professionally "develop" yourself, don’t miss the upcoming MARN workshops at WPCA this Saturday. The topics are: “An elevator speech” and “Media relations”. Artist Josie Osborne of UWM (and formerly of MIAD) and Mary Louise Schumacher of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will be leading the workshops. Click here, for more information.
If you have any questions, contact Melissa Musante, executive Director of MARN.

Pilsen artist making some splash.

Pilsen-based muralist, Hector Duarte, whose large-scale painting El Maleficio de Cuauhtemoc is an outstanding feature of our “Artist of Pilsen” exhibition recently got a review in the Chicago Sun Times. The article covers his exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago that I have written about a few days ago. To see the review and learn more about Duarte’s work, click here.
Make sure to come visit and see his work first hand at WPCA!

Board member, Tamiko Dargan, on Radio Milwaukee.

Our new board member, printmaker-extraordinaire, Tamiko Dargan spoke recently to Adam Carr of Radio Milwaukee. To listen to what she had to say of the love of her craft, click here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pilsen opening

The special treat of the Friday night was a visit of the group of artists from Chiapas involved in "The Chiapas/Chicago Connection" at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, who came up in force accompanying Gabriel Villa on his trip to the opening. Artists René Hugo Arceo with his family, Ricardo Santos Hernàndez and Diana Solis were also here answering myriad of questions by our inquisitive public. It was a night for fabulous conversations!

WPCA board member and director of The Crossman gallery at UW-Whitewater, Michael Flanagan and artist George McCormick.

Gabriel Villa with guests.

René Hugo Arceo (in red vest) in conversation.

Our new board member, Tamiko Dargan and Carmen Murguia with a painting La Sirena by Robert Valadez.

Artist Diana Solis (on the right) and the crowd. You can also spot WPCA's Gary Tuma on the left.

Gabriel Villa, Pilsen's Salvador Jimenez (on the left) and visitors from Chiapas.

Ricardo Santos Hernàndez and Milwaukee's own José Alfredo Chavez.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Get ready for the arrival of artists from Pilsen!

Several days ago I made a trip to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, Chicago to meet with artist Gabriel Villa, who generously put together "Artists of Pilsen" exhibition for us. I must shamefully confess that it'd been few months since I last visited and the trip reminded me why I should indeed do visit more often.

When I came, muralist Hector Duarte was putting finishing touches on his 150' long mural sobre lienzo, which completion were to be celebrated that night. While I don't have the pictures to share with you, I hope I can describe the work with the adjectives flowery enough to entice you to come visit on Friday and see Duarte's work that's included in our exhibition. This work stems from the traditions that we do not often see in Milwaukee and for this very reason it is worth seeing.

Duarte studied murals in the workshop of the giant of Mexican Muralism, David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1977, but aside of the scale, his work has little to do with sombre, restarained pallette and form that Siqueiros used. The mural at the National Museum wrapped around the gallery space incorporating the doorway into its composition and splinterred into a dazzle of bright, saturated colors. The splintering was also literal, as the image taking on as a subject the border fence between Mexico and the U. S. cut into the gallery space with the actual barbed wire that crowned the top of the painted barrier. Fluctuating from deep ultramarines through sensuous red and oranges and into bright, luminous yellows the image evoked a long and painful journey through night and day that scores of people undertake across the border that divides two intimately tied countries. I must say I am not a mural afficionado, but I was immediately absorbed into the flowing, dynamic strokes that zigzagged through the surface of the wall and enveloped the space of the gallery. Michael Fried couldn't have been prouder of that experience (that's a high theory inside joke, so-please-bear with me)!

Gabriell Villa, Roy.

While we do not have a spectacular mural to share with you, we have plenty of other works that all do situate themselves within the unique Mexican and Chicano heritage. Many artists, like Gabriel Villa, embrace not only Mexican tradition their work stems from, but also the urban cultures they interact with on day-to-day basis. It's a rare mix, don't miss an opportunity to see it!

Richard Knight's reception

If you weren't here on Friday night, not only did you miss great work, but you also missed a great party!
Thank you to all who came and if you didn't have a chance to visit, here is a photo report of the night.

More of Richard's sculptural pieces will be shown at the James Watrous Gallery of Wisconsin Academy in Madison this summer. The show will open July 7 and run through August 16. The opening reception for the show is Friday, July 10, 5:30-7:30 pm. Mark your calendars!

Melissa Musante, the new Executive Director of MARN, with husband Jeff White.

Richard Knight and Denis Sargent of UWM's Visual Art Department.

Artist Roy Staab showing off his fresh tan straight from Key West.

Gary Tuma and Graeme Reid of the Museum Of Wisconsin Art in West Bend.

Kay Knight of UWM's Visual Art Department.

Our long-standing members, Bill and Joanne O'Dell.

UWM's Polly Morris.

Artists Eriks Johnson and Marla Sanvick.

Greg and Irma Klassen with son Max admiring Richard's objects.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Milwaukee Cultural Alliance/MARN listening session 2

On March 3rd we hosted the second listening session between the Milwaukee Cultural Alliance and MARN. This report is well too lengthy for a blog post, but to give everybody a full scope of the discussion that took place on Tuesday night, there’s no way to trim it. I am just pretty much trying to give you minutes of the meeting, but I must admit that there were a few moments in which I couldn’t resist and inserted my own comments as well. A few personal thoughts on the cultural planning process(es) will follow soon.

Christine Harris extended her thanks to Gary Tuma of WPCA for hosting the event and welcomed Melissa Musante, the new Executive Director of MARN (with whom she already has a working relationship). The meeting was not well attended: aside of Gary and myself on the side of WPCA, Christine and Denise Lubotsky of the Cultural Alliance, and Melissa representing MARN, there were only three people present: Shirah Apple, Thea Kovac and Jeff Holub. Even though most of the time Christine reported to the group, the meeting definitely had informal tone to it. If you weren’t here, not only did you miss Christine’s report, but also a very energizing dance performance.
I wonder whether poor attendance says anything about people’s feelings after the first listening session that took place in late January. Is it just the mater of time and effort, or do people feel like their voices wouldn’t be heard anyways? Is anyone willing to comment on this?

Milwaukee Cultural Alliance’s report:
According to Christine, as of recently, the role of Milwaukee Cultural Alliance is evolving. The Alliance is interested in partnering with existing programs (such as MARN) to foster community and leverage the resources that we have.
Perhaps not the most fortunate nickname, the moniker “Kre8 Kamp” was used just “for fun” for the two–day planning session that took place in on February 4th and 5th. The decision to make the session public through blog and video was made last minute, so the organizers were not really prepared for it.
As Christine indicated, the cultural planning process set in motion for Milwaukee is unique as it brings together both non-profit and for-profit sectors. On the outset, it was decided that the planning process for Milwaukee would take top-to-bottom approach [rather than from the ground-up approach], with gradual widening of the circles and stakeholders involved in it.
As I am writing this summary, I am struck by the impersonal phrasing that was used to describe the decision-making process. Who exactly decided that the cultural plan should take top-to-bottom approach?

As you might have heard, the chief goal of the planning process is to ensure that Milwaukee is a globally competitive, distinct region with sustainable creative economy. The answer to the question “What makes us distinct?” has not yet been ironed out, but the hope is that the planning process will illuminate the resources and cultural assets that we have here.

These are the 7 task forces Creative Summit implemented:
1. Vision
2. Leadership
3. Planning and process – seeks means to extend the planning process and build one team of creative individuals working in the region.
4. “Low hanging fruit” – tries to grapple with the question of what can be done now to move us forward. One of immediate aims is to create a creative coalition website that would provide a comprehensive information database and connectivity.
5. Education and workforce development – finding ways of providing lifelong creativity learning.
6. Efficiencies and resource management – geared towards organizations, works towards shared services and resources.
7. Communications – promotes creative economy.

One of the most important aspects of the process is gathering information: generating a creative asset map (locating those assets geographically within the region) and establishing the vitality index. Benchmarking for sustainable public/private funding is also crucial.

The process is staffed by the Cultural Alliance that is also currently seeking to hire somebody to help with the process for 30 hours a week. Chances are the Alliance might need additional money to move the process forward.

Widening the circle:
The important next step will take place on March 25th, when a larger gathering of folks (about 200 people) from the creative economy will take place. The Cultural Alliance seeks to gain perspective from the insights of variety of groups: individual artists, designers, illustrators, architects, writers, actors, musicians, educators, also artists employed by larger institutions such as Milwaukee Ballet, [artists who have union representation, unemployment insurance and other benefits, but still don’t work 12 months a year], people working in advertising, film, galleries, hi-tech industry, design engineers, culinary arts, fashion, gaming, industrial design, recreation and parks, as well as from neighborhood groups. The aim is to work on the vision statement.

Gary Tuma expressed concern on how community-based, informal initiatives are defined and accounted for.

Melissa Musante emphasized that MARN needs to be reaching out there to different types of artists as so far it hasn’t reached out beyond the East-side. In her assessment, we really have no idea of the breadth of artists working in the city, or of the ways these artists work.

Christine Harris suggested the census of other creative assets, outside of formal organizations. Currently, under the auspices of LISC (Local Initiative Support Corporation) there is a work being done on designating “main street” areas. A Cultural Vitality Index is being created for Milwaukee (according to the guidelines established by Urban Institute). From what I understand, this is happening through UWM's Urban Anthropology department. One of the outcomes of this process could be a template for gathering further information on other vital areas of the city. Ideally, such process would lead to building a comprehensive database of what’s happening in each neighborhood within the area in order to stimulate partnerships and exchanges and foster build cultural community from the ground up. Engaging leaders from the communities would enhance the process.

As Melissa suggested, one of the outcomes of such an initiative might be bridging social gaps in the city.

Melissa also mentioned that there is a lot of art programming for kids in the city, but no support for adults. MARN is committed to be focused on adults and nurturing development of working artists.

In the discussion that ensued there were a few issues raised:
WPA as an example of governmental involvement in sustaining artists (Jeff), problems related to donating art to fundraising functions (Thea), preserving neighborhoods and affordable brick-and-mortar living and work spaces for artists (Thea), maintaining economic stability of neighborhoods (Shirah), necessity for funders to think “outside of the box” (Gary), creating some kind of “trading floor” for artists, artisans and designers (Jeff), supporting organizations who are willing to/and know how to use artists as a resource, as ACLU, for example (Shirah), recognizing our sweet water resources as an asset (Shirah).

Christine asserted that the Cultural Alliance will do its best to influence the policies. She also raised the question on what cultural district models we could build on. Suggestions from the group were: Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Torpedo Factory in Arlington, Virginia (Shirah), Bema Center in Omaha, NE (Melissa), Pima County Cultural Plan and Chicago Cultural Plan (Dorota).

At the end, Melissa asserted that MARN will be working towards making sure that artists work for the paycheck. Yet, she also said all MARN could do was to empower the artists, but couldn’t do their work for them.

As promised, my remarks will follow soon. In the meantime, feel free to comment.

Calling all members: proposals for the Milwaukee Artist Marketplace.

On Saturday, July 25, 2009 (Gallery Night and Day weekend) there will be an outdoor local Artist Marketplace Day at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The goals of the Marketplace are to provide the community access to locally created artwork and to foster partnerships between local arts organizations, the Museum and the community.

Walker’s Point Center for the Arts has about 6 spots available for its members at the event. Due to significant interest in the Marketplace, this year we would like to select WPCA members who would represent us at the Marketplace through jurying process. In return, WPCA will cover the $ 50 booth fee as a benefit of membership at WPCA.

To be considered for participation at the Milwaukee Artist Marketplace, please submit:
  • an artist statement,
  • a short bio,
  • 4 images representative of the work that would be shown at the Marketplace,
by March 31st, 2009.

Send all the materials electronically to:

or by snail mail:
Dorota Biczel Nelson
Walker’s Point Center for the Arts
911 W. National Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53204

You must be a WPCA member in good standing to apply.

Here’s an excerpt from the guidelines provided by the Milwaukee Art Museum:
  1. Open to local artists 18 years or older who are invited to participate by the designated partnering organizations.
  2. Artists or representatives from partnering organizations must be in attendance during the entire marketplace. No agents, dealers, or representatives may attend in place of the artist.
  3. The Artist Marketplace is designed for local Milwaukee area artists and artisans who create and execute original professional quality work.
  4. Ineligible items include items made with commercially available molds or patterns or any items produced commercially (such as t-shirts) or by anyone other than the artist. No kits or hobby crafts. It is understood that some assemblage artwork may include found items. Professional presentation of work is mandatory.
  5. Reproduction Policy: Offset lithographs and giclées of original works on display are acceptable only if each one is labeled REPRODUCTION. Reproductions may not be framed or hang on the walls of the booth. They may be displayed in one (1) bin in a non-prominent area of the booth. Reproductions in the form of postcards and note cards of work may be displayed on one (1) small table or pedestal. No other types of reproductions are allowed. All reproductions may consume no more than 20% of the entire booth space.
  6. The digital art category is defined as an original work for which the artist used a computer to execute the original image. Such works must be in limited editions, signed and numbered, and on archival quality materials. No Xerox copies.
  7. Booth spaces are 10’ x 10’. Artists are responsible for providing their own self-supporting displays. If you are planning on bringing a tent, it must be white. No stakes, nails or other supports may be driven into pavement or walls; no ropes may be strung across walkways. Tables must be covered on all sides. Cartons, etc., must be out of sight. Bring protection from sun or sudden showers. All vehicles must be removed prior to the opening of the marketplace and should not return until the close of the event. No electricity is provided. No banners other than name of the artist or artist’s organization may be displayed at booth.
  8. Participants are prohibited from distributing literature of, or promoting in any other manner, any religious, fraternal, foundation, political, or commercial organization. Literature and information pertaining to the artist’s work or affiliated artist organization are permitted.
  9. Participants are responsible for the security of their work. Neither the Milwaukee Art Museum, nor ABEA, AC Art Association, Artist Enhancement Program (Goodwill), Bay View Arts Guild, CoPA, Hmong Women’s Professional Circle, League of Milwaukee Artists, MARN, MATA, Riverwest Artist Association, Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, WDCC, WVA or any other participating organizations will assume any responsibility for any loss or damage to any artistic works or display materials from any cause whatsoever.
  10. Artists are required to provide a Certificate of Insurance along with their application. If an artist doesn’t have liability insurance, the artist MUST sign the Milwaukee Artist Marketplace Liability Waiver included in the application packet.
  11. Artists are solely responsible for collecting monies for work sold and for obtaining all licenses or permits required for the sale of his/her product to the public. Copies of such licenses/permits shall be submitted along with the Artist Application. For more information on the permit process, please contact: State Sellers Permit,
  12. Artists should include a short bio and if you want to have your work considered for publicity purposes, submit one representative 300 DPI electronic image.
  13. By signing the Artist Application Form, the artist is agreeing to the guidelines outlined in this document. All procedures and rules stated in this document will be strictly enforced.


The Wisconsin Arts Board announces a commission opportunity associated with the UW Madison Wisconsin Institute of Discovery. The selection committee is seeking qualifications from artists for artwork that focuses on a sense of discovery in a dynamic and engaging manner rather than artwork that is an alliteration of the building's function. Please review the prospectus and consider submitting your qualifications if you are interested. The application deadline for artist's qualifications is April 9, 2009. Please note that the application form is currently being reformatted and will be posted shortly. Here is the link:

For more information contact:

Chris Manke
Percent for Art Coordinator
Wisconsin Arts Board
101 E Wilson St. 1st. Fl.
Madison, WI 53702
fax: 608-267-0380