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Della Wells Connects to Childhood Dreams Through Art

Oct. 24, 2011
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It's proving to be a very special month for Milwaukee collage artist Della Wells. As a child, she relished the satirical Fractured Fairy Tales of A.J. Jacobs and used art as a way to deal with a difficult home life that included her mother's schizophrenia.

Today, Wells has created a successful art career depicting African-American women realizing their dreams. She pastes together torn fragments of magazines, newspapers and recycled materials to create magical images recalling folklore. This month, three exhibitions open in honor of that art and the world premiere of the play based on her childhood, Don't Tell Me I Can't Fly, written by Y York.

The first exhibition, “What It Means to Fly,” features Wells' artwork courtesy of Peltz Gallery at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center (open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through Dec. 31). In the exuberant 2011 collage A Party in My Head, women rejoice at a dinner table amid bright hues and confetti-colored, miniature plastic fruit and flowers. Wells worked with local art organizations to sponsor programs at homeless shelters and the Salvation Army to demonstrate that “art is the vehicle to regain and connect with humanity.”

When First Stage Children's Theater stages the world premiere of Don't Tell Me I Can't Fly on Oct. 28, selected works by Wells will move to the Todd Wehr Theater lobby for viewing through Nov. 13.

Also, Knapp Street's Peltz Gallery displays “Works By Della Wells” Oct. 27-Nov. 30. Wells has participated in the gallery's annual “Remarkable Women Show” for many years. The gallery hosts a reception for Wells noon-3 p.m. Oct. 28.

Art Happenings

November Art Jamboree: “Rooms”

Aloft Hotel

1230 N. Old World Third St.

This interactive event displays six mediums of art in six rooms of the hotel for an evening that also includes refreshments and live music. The event runs 6-11 p.m. (rooms available for touring 6-8 p.m.) Thursday, Nov. 3.

African American Art Alliance Gallery Talk

Milwaukee Art Museum

700 N. Art Museum Drive

Following a presentation of Reginald Baylor's painting On Duty, Not Driving to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Alliance hosts a gallery talk by Baylor. The event begins 6 p.m. Oct. 27 in Gallery 19.


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