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Gallery Night Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Jul. 25, 2012
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“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” Pablo Picasso said of the value of aesthetics in society. Milwaukee's Gallery Night and Day embraces this spirit for its 25th anniversary, July 27-28.

The quarterly event, which began with fewer than 10 art galleries, now includes more than 60 venues throughout the city. David Barnett Gallery has participated in all 100 Gallery Night events, reflecting the owner's passion for art. Barnett's current exhibit, “Toulouse-Lautrec and the Paris Art Scene,” presents the rare 1897 portfolio “Au Pied du Sinai,” which includes prints signed in pencil by Lautrec. The pieces, another example of past art inspiring present-day culture, complement the Milwaukee Art Museum's “Posters of Paris” exhibition.

Originally, Gallery Night only occurred on Friday evenings. Barnett says that the decision to expand the event to Saturday was brilliant because it gives people more time to engage with the artworks.

Bridget Griffith Evans and Gene Evans offer another perspective, after opening Luckystar Studio in 2002 in the Historic Third Ward. When the studio first opened, few other galleries were housed in the Marshall Building—compared to the 20-plus venues now spanning five floors. Luckystar rented out the building's then-empty basement, where their Gallery Night extravaganzas often featured close to 40 artists. Both owners remember that Gallery Night had always centered on the art—comments, criticisms, discussions and purchases.

After a brief hiatus, Luckystar Studio returned to the Marshall Building several years ago. The couple continues to create affordable paintings and screen-prints that inspire art enthusiasts. They now say that Gallery Night seems to have lost some importance for discussing or selling art. Gene Evans says the Friday crowds appear more interested in socializing than art. To explain, he quotes satirist Lenny Bruce: “There's a big difference between a big piece of art with a little shit in the middle and a big piece of shit with a little art in the middle.”

For its 25th anniversary, Gallery Night continues to highlight disparate artists, mediums and venues. ART Milwaukee offers fun social events to promote art. An enterprising pair of young artists, Rachel Quirk and Zina Mussmann, opened Greymatter on the second floor of the Marshall Building several years ago. Greymatter's exhibition “Ador{n}ed” displays the accomplished Tyanna J. Buie, an up-and-coming printmaker recently featured at Dean Jensen Gallery.

No matter how you view it—even if some see Friday's Gallery Night as the “big piece of shit with a little art in the middle” and Saturday as the “big piece of art with a little shit in the middle”—each event features eclectic collections of extraordinary art. As technology transforms the contemporary art market—how art is admired, collected and sold—it is the organizers' desire that Gallery Night continue to wash away the dust of everyday life. Here's to cleansing the collective soul in creativity for another 25 years.

Art Happenings

This weekend's Gallery Night & Day aims to benefit the individuals affected by the tragic fire July 17 at 631 E. Center St. in Riverwest. More than 20 artists need to replace everything they owned, including artwork, art supplies, apartments, galleries and studios. The following events, coordinated by Milwaukee Artist Resource Network, will benefit these artists:

Emergency Relief Fund

For information on donations to an emergency relief fund, visit www.artsinmilwaukee.org/fund. A list of donation sites and of critical needs (art supplies, clothing and housewares) will be available at the above website or on Facebook at https://facebook.com/events/402598059797319/.

Art Sale Benefit

MIAD Student Union

266 E. Erie St.

Selected works on paper by students of the former Layton School of Art will be on sale to benefit artists affected by the Riverwest fire 5-9 p.m. July 27 and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. July 28.

Art Happenings

CoPA's Pin-Up Show

The Studio Q

320 E. Buffalo St., Fourth Floor

This one-night-only event features art to admire and collect. Photographs are available for $25 from fine art photographers who belong to the Coalition of Photographic Arts (CoPA) on Friday, July 27, 5-9 p.m.

“Painting Milwaukee”

Museum of Wisconsin Art on the Lake

1840 N. Prospect Ave.

The city of Milwaukee and its landscapes are seen through the eyes of Shelby Keefe, Hal Koenig and Jeffrey Ripple in this exhibition opening 5-9 p.m. July 27 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 28. A special “Tuesday Talk” takes place 7:30 p.m. July 31.


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