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Thirty and Strong, Walker’s Point Art Center Celebrates Milestone Year

May. 9, 2017
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Anyone with long-term familiarity of Walker’s Point would easily say it has changed a lot during the last 30 years. One constant, however, has been the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts. Opened in 1987, WPCA has been an enduring supporter for professional artists and arts education. Reaching the milestone of three decades, it is time for a celebratory show. 

The karmic wheel comes full circle in the “Thirty” exhibition as some of the participants in the show attended youth art classes at WPCA. One is Tom Aldana, a professional tattoo artist and accomplished muralist. His piece, Made Like a Gun, suggests a beautiful, fierce monochrome tat of a tiger and sword writ large. Germán Gómez, formerly a WPCA student and now an intern and UW-Milwaukee photography major, contributes pensively poetic images from the neighborhood. A stormy, pink-tinged sky hangs over a garden shrine at 9th and Washington as Goméz’s camera lens opens up this hidden place.

More than anything, the show is really a nod to the organization’s past. The very first exhibition featured painter Dennis Nechvatal and an opening reception where he was joined by Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie for a musical performance piece. Nechvatal is back, represented by Shift: Digital Matter Primal Structure, which features his characteristic use of intricate pattern and detail laid over rows of small metal masks. Valerie Christell, the organization’s first administrator, continues to be a practicing artist. Her photomontage, Grounded, has strips removed from the picture, an effect like a reclining body having a fragmented dream.

The exhibition is a reunion of prominent artists who have shown at WPCA in the past, and some of the most compelling works touch on political or socially conscious art. Josie Osborne’s HOPE (for Pauli Murray) honors the late civil and women’s rights advocate in image and poem. Raoul Deal’s woodblock print, Take Only What You Need, takes its name from part of the text on a protestor’s T-shirt decrying the evils of greed. It’s a powerful statement, and just one of many in WPCA’s 30-year history. 

“Thirty” continues through May 20 at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 839 S. Fifth St. A panel discussion on May 20 from 3-5 p.m. will feature WPCA Founding Director Jane Brite, former Executive Director Gary Tuma, Valerie Christell, Francisco X. Mora, moderated by current Executive Director Marcela Garcia. 

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