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Art About Art

Mark Mulhern pulls back the curtain

Sep. 4, 2013
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There’s an endemic belief that artists know not what they do: that their works are wrought not through reflection but through inspiration—etymologically, being breathed into (namely, by a spirit or the gods). “Bilde Künstler! Rede nicht! / Nur ein Hauch sei dein Gedicht.” urged Goethe. “Make art, artist! Don’t talk at me! / Only a breath should your poem be.”

In his new exhibition at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Mark Mulhern finds a way to “pull back the curtain” on his artistic process without devolving into empty verbiage. And he avoids violating Goethe’s dictum by eloquently turning his brush, instead of his pen, to the matter at hand. This is art about the making of art and we are invited to ride shotgun as Mulhern develops the fleeting and fragmentary sense data of sketches into polished works.

As with the best aesthetic encounters, the audience is given ample impetus to apply insights won by the artist to their own lives. We are bidden by Mulhern’s example to attend to those everyday impressions that surreptitiously grab our attention. With this newfound sensitivity, all that remains between the artist and us is the ability to translate our experience to a more permanent and pleasing medium. “Mark Mulhern: Pulling Back the Curtain” will be displayed Sept. 6-Dec. 1 at MOWA, 205 Veterans Ave., West Bend.


Christian Sis

Gallery 2622

2622 N. Wauwatosa Ave.

With new exhibitions on the first Friday of every month, Wauwatosa’s Gallery 2622 is one restless art space. Artists and art lovers should be thankful. The rapid turnover gives you all the reason you need to be Tosa bound with regularity. This go-around features the work of Milwaukee’s own precocious twenty-something, Christian Sis, whose works shift effortlessly between the representative, abstract, surreal and grotesque. Act now so as not to miss the future opportunity to brag about how you knew his art waaaay back when. This exhibition opens Friday, Sept. 6 with a reception 6-9 p.m.


“Annual Members Show”

Walker’s Point Center for the Arts

839 S. Fifth St.

Art is not something that only happens in the ateliers of Paris. Nor is art defined by being encircled by one of MoMA’s cordons. Rather, all signs point to creative self-expression being a universal human activity. It is also a measure of a community’s vitality. The Walker’s Point Center for the Arts shows that the neighborhood checks out with a clean bill of health. This month, WPCA’s members are invited to fill the space their membership sustains. Expect talent and variety. The show opens on Friday, Sept. 6 with a reception from 5-9 p.m. and runs through Oct. 8.


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