RedLine Milwaukee Hosts Open House

Feb. 9, 2009
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Earlier this year we ran a series of articles on Milwaukee’s rising talent. It wasn’t just meant as an exercise in optimism for what the city has to offer by way of young talent, but a way of opening up discussions on what the city can do to keep that talent from migrating elsewhere.

 Aligning itself with that very cause is the non-profit organization  RedLine Milwaukee, a new arts incubator that has taken residence in a former storage and office space on 1422 N. 4th St. Although still undergoing renovation (set for completion around June/ July) Redline opens its doors to the public on Saturday between 10 a.m and noon in an open house intended to introduce convey the organization’s multi-layered mission to the public.

 The term “arts incubator” is one cropping up in cities all across the U.S. looking to create nourishing and interdisciplinary environments for the art-making. It may sound horribly clinical but also speaks to the increasingly blurry boundary between art and science/technology that we are experiencing today. In RedLine’s case it’s also an apt description of the experimental approach applied here in bringing different strands of civic and cultural engagement into one space: studio and social spaces for artists in residence; exhibition spaces accessible to the public; workshops for children in grade K and above, printmaking and papermaking facilities a video and photo editing studio available to the public at a set cost and a venue where other organizations around the city can share what they do. “We’re trying to grab all these organizations and give a place where everyone can come together and strengthen everybody’s programming,” says Lori Bauman, a video and installation artist and teacher who is one of the founding members of Redline. She and other founding member Steve Vande Zande both have a strong background of working with teens, and these are one of the target areas for the organization’s outreach. “Teens are really at the stage where they’re creating their identity,” says Bauman. “Our hope is that [Redline] will serve as a place to strengthen their characters and help them become civic transformers.” Already they’ve begun working with Teen Challenge and TruSkool, offering the latter plenty of walls to adorn with the kind of graffiti art little appreciated in the public realm.

 For these teens and other members of the public usually intimidated by the city’s more elite cultural establishments, Redline see their enterprise as an important cultural primer.“What we want to be is a really user friendly cultural institution that’s sort of a stepping stone to the art museum and other institutions,” says Bauman. “People can come here, access it easily, get comfortable, learn to navigate this kind of public space with all sorts of shows and curriculums.”

 With this in mind, finding the right location was important from the get go. “It took 3 years to find the right location,” says Bauman. “We wanted it to be on a bus line, and this neighborhood is situated right in the middle of a unique area,” says Bauman. “To the south you is the business district and possible collectors. To the north you have brewer’s hill which is already gentrified; to the east you have an area that’s developing residentially and its got Brady Street and to the west the industrial and residential area and a community that has a lot of little non-profits we can collaborate with and can help strengthen… it was a good location to access a broader audience.”

 Redline is now accepting applications for Artists in Residence. To apply or to find out more about RedLine go to




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