Young and Erie
June 25 - August 28, 2016
Opening reception: Gallery Night, July 22, 6-9pm.
Young and Erie presents a group of recent college graduates from various Wisconsin institutions. Portrait Society has selected some of the best and brightest artists who are about to begin their professional lives. They include:
Kevin Wrencher (MIAD), Brian James Bartlett (UW-Madison), Jenny Barr (UW-Madison), Romano Johnson (Madison), Deanna Anthony (Parkside), Jacob Jackson Salzer (UW-Milwaukee), Caitlyn Doran (MIAD), and Sean Heiser (UWM).
The exhibition title, Young and Erie, represents the two streets that form the corner where the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design is located in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. It was also the name given to an art publication created in a MIAD critical writing course last semester. Like any recent graduate, these artists are now at a crossroads in their lives as they pursue their careers independent of the nurturing environments of their educational programs. Portrait Society has an active and supportive relationship with MIAD, whose classes frequently meet at the gallery and Director Debra Brehmer has taught art history and critical writing there part-time for a decade. In addition, the gallery is well connected to faculty and students at UW-Madison, affording on-going visits and opportunities to see new work. Gallery artist Shane Walsh teaches in the painting department at UW-Milwaukee and is especially pleased with this year’s graduates.
Predominantly figurative, with an emphasis on re-examining the portrait as a tool of social expression, most of the work in this show wrangles with how to re-invigorate representational painting. This is the first commercial gallery show for most of these artists, and the work is priced accordingly.
Alexander Kevin Wrencher, Forgetting Shadow Boy, 2015.7 x 11 ft.
Alexander Kevin Wrencher, A God Shadow, 2016. 75 x 60 in.
Kevin Wrencher (MIAD 2016)
Kevin makes large-scale mixed media paintings that explore his family background and the sudden loss of his mother when he was a sophomore. Combining dimensional figures on a painted background, Wrencher builds dynamic, enveloping, rhythmic works that move beyond traditional vocabularies of canvas and paint. He also writes poetry.
Brian James Bartlett (MFA UW-Madison 2016)
Brian James Bartlett’s mixed media paintings address the distortion of childhood memories. From a base of old family photographs, he enlarged, collages, transfer prints, draws and paints until dream-like cosmic odyssey’s emerge from the initial source documents. Skillfully rendered, the paintings feel like floating memories, only partially accessible but potently full of fragmented information.
Brian James Bartlett
Jennifer Barr, Untitled, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 in.
Jennifer Barr (BFA, UW-Madison)
Jennifer Barr first earned a degree in science journalism and technical writing before pursuing her art degree. This combination of interests appears in these paintings of houseplants. Her science background is applied to the act of painting like a formula or set of research terms: “background, plus surface, pot and plant.”
Jacob Salzer (BFA, UW-Milwaukee)
Jacob Salzer makes large-scale portraits that inhale and exhale between modes of abstraction and representation. He re-invigorates historic references to Alice Neel and Francis Bacon with forays into all kinds of mark-making, pattern and texture.
Jacob Salzer, Josh, 2016. Oil on canvas, 68 x 44 in.
Deanna Antony (BFA, UW-Parkside)
Deanna’s work explores intersections of painting and sculpture. She builds stretcher supports in unusual shapes and then paints and cuts canvas to interact with the support. Listing Frank Stella, Josef Albers, Tom Berenz and Trenton Baylor as inspirations, Antony’s work also takes a gender dive into influence. She says her palette was most likely established as an adolescent during early encounters with eye shadow kits and lipstick colors. Her taut abstractions could likewise be read as clothes on bodies.
Deanna Antony, 2016.
Romano (Mano) Johnson (Madison)
Romano (Mano) Johnson technically did not recently graduate with an art degree, but he could be considered an emerging artist and a lifelong student. This has been a banner year for him. His work was included in the John Michael Kohler exhibition, Wisconsin Wild and Tame, and will be in the upcoming Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Johnson makes acrylic and glitter paintings, often featuring black icons such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Obama and Martin Luther King. Dynamic and inventive, Johnson’s work is influenced by his love of music.
Romano Johnson, Obama, 2015. Acrylic and glitter on canvas.
Caitlyn Doran, Brian’s Bruises. Acrylic and graphite on panel, 4 x 6 in. Sold.
Caitlyn Doran, Growing Twins,2016. Acrylic and graphite, 4 x 6 in.
Caitlin Doran (BFA, MIAD)
Caitlyn Doran’s delicate small-scale drawings act as stills from imaginary films. Subject matter includes humans with small animal companions and domestic objects rendered precisely in graphite and paint. She says, “Together they tell seemingly ordinary stories of subtle fantasy and amiable cross-cultural exchange inspired by my daily life.”
Review, Wisconsin Gazette, Kat Kneevers