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Rabbit Holes and Stay-at-Home Dads

Dalamar and Gary Markstein at Ayzha

May. 7, 2013
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Ayzha Fine Arts Gallery & Boutique opened in October 2012, on the second floor of The Shops of Grand Avenue mall, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., and I’m here to say, it’s a perfect fit. Co-owner (with Milwaukee writer Gregory Stanford) Cynthia Henry has filled every inch with the unique. The pickings are fine.

However, my focus was primarily on art, and I almost missed the best of it hidden behind a door in what must have once been a wee closet. Bravely titled “The Project Room,” it is proof positive that small things can wield clout. So cleverly devised is local artist Dalamar’s (Darlene LaMar’s moniker) “Alice in Wonderland Installation” that in a wink, I fell down her rabbit hole and into her childhood, which her bio suggests was more nightmare than delight. For example, as a military kid at an Air Force base in Spain, she found herself with no one to talk to, so she played alone in fields of beautiful red poppies.

Pulling off a great installation is no easy trick, but Dalamar approaches it head on by centering her space with an upside-down, life-size female figure, black dreads askew and red frock rumpled. She too is falling down the rabbit hole, but has not yet landed in the world of memories where a tea table waits among bits of fabric and figurines and photographs. “There were often issues in classrooms where I was the only student of color,” she writes, adding that she never spent more than three years in one place. Tracking her muse over several continents, she eventually received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Dalamar’s installation is on display through June. She will discuss her installation at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 11.

The flipside of her tales, are those told by Gary Markstein, local cartoonist and features designer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He’s inked his way into national fame with a syndicated comic strip titled “Daddy’s Home.” Installed on the east wall of the gallery, they lurch forward with traumas about a stay-at-home daddy with a wife who brings home the bacon. “Daddy’s Home” is one of the fastest growing comic strips in the nation. We can all use a good laugh, right? Go for it.    




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