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Mark Ottens

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April 9 through May 21, 2022


Portrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art

207 E. Buffalo Street, Suite 526

Milwaukee, WI 53202

Hours: Thursday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.


GALLERY NIGHT: FRIDAY, APRIL 22,  5 to 8 p.m. 

GALLERY DAY: SATURDAY, APRIL 23, noon to 5 p.m. 


For immediate release


We are entering an epoch unlike any other: The pandemic, climate destruction, years of untenable presidential leadership, earthquakes, floods, fires, increased crime, habitat erosion, continued economic and racial disparity.


The upcoming years will require heroic determination. In this sense, we will need to take better care of ourselves, both mentally and physically. Portrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art is pleased to present Balm, a group exhibition of work meant to heal or soothe, art that is a communication of care, from one human to another, a contemplation of acts of beauty and restoration. The exhibition will run April 9 to May 21, 2022. An informal opening reception will be Saturday, April 9 from noon to 5 p.m. Please come and meet the artists.


The exhibition is anchored by the work of Mark Ottens in the front gallery space. His layered geometric abstract paintings address a desire to “…leave behind a little bit of wonderment, of cheer, of beauty.” Ottens says, “The painting’s goal now is to cause a smile and a sense of awe, rather than a frown and a bit of tsk, tsking. I hope that the paintings will eventually function as a source of calm, reassurance, a reprise from life’s varieties of roughness.”


The exhibition will unfold into a small group show, featuring PSG artists and guests. Paintings and drawings by Skully Gustafson present playful worlds that remind us that we have the power to shape our lives and attitudes. Ashley Lusietto’s small works on paper detail dreamlike scenes where magic meets desire. David Niec’s night sky and moon paintings celebrate the relationships between humans and the natural world. Nirmal Raja continues to weave global issues into her multi-faceted practice. LaNia Sproles’ powerfully confrontational paintings and drawings insist on the domestic realm as a place of comfort, freedom, and self-care. Thomas Haneman’s lyrical, invented flower compositions reach toward unseen nourishment. We will be introducing work by Meg Lionel Murphy whose paintings are about surviving domestic violence and we are pleased to present a multi-screen video installation by the duo Sebura & Gartelmann.


In a recent Artforum article, the contemporary painter Amy Sillman, commented, “Painting was the way you send out your signal, plot your course through precarious waters, navigate toward other vessels, other shorelines, other people. You steer that little square, and its un-straight lines, as it rises and sinks, and that’s how you try to save your own life.” 

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