Pierre Bonnard, Garden, ca. 1935, Oil on canvas
I am done with Winter. Turning my calendar to March, while there’s still snow on the ground ? No thank you.
Spring fever has me itching to throw open my apartment windows, and let the fresh air in—to escape the frigid Wisconsin weather, and bleak grey scenery, and take a walk through Bonnard’s colorful Garden. For now, I’ll have to make-do with fresh flowers and Rifle Paper Co.’s beautiful blooms. When Spring finally decides to roll around, I’ll be checking these warm weather cravings off my to-do list:
- A visit to my favorite annual event at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Art in Bloom, a tribute to art and flowers, March 27th to 30th.
- Smitten Kitchen’s Spring Panzanella, a delicious twist on classic panzanella (and who doesn’t love bread salad?)
- An afternoon at Estebrook Beer Garden with the husband, and run around the neighboring dog park with Auggie Doggie (who is bouncing off the walls this Winter).
This past weekend, the husband and I braved the humid weather to visit the annual Lakefront Festival of Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum. This year, 180 artists from around the world displayed their works, from paintings and ceramic wares, to fiber and jewelry, amongst them a couple of familiar favorites, Cali Hobgood and Nick Wroblewski, as well as at least one new fave, Sarah Giannobile.
Giannobile’s gem-like forms are woven into delicate webs, each work a dream-like expression of the artist’s subconscious, explorations of childhood memories of farm-life in Missouri.
The Milwaukee Art Museum’s annual event, Art in Bloom: A Tribute to Art and Flowers, April 11-14, 2013, features stunning floral arrangements, created by local designers, paired with works from the museum’s collection. This event has become a favorite of mine over the years, and is certainly a welcome breath of spring this year, after a full week of rain. I tend to gravitate toward the arrangements which subtly mirror their counterparts, and this year’s arrangements did not disappoint—many of the artfully arranged blooms, graceful studies of color and emotion, rather than direct imitations of composition. [all photos by Michael Brown]
Kees van Dongen (Dutch, 1877–1968), Place Vendome, 1918–20, Oil on canvas
I’ve always adored this work, Place Vendome, a permanent resident of The Mrs. Harry L. Bradley Collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Although Dutch-born French painter and printmaker, Kees van Dongen, is most renowned for his sensual female portraits, I find myself drawn to his charmingly vibrant scenes of bustling Parisian streets, crowded racetracks and teeming seascapes. Van Dongen remained committed to the short-lived Fauvist style throughout his career, his subjects emerging from strong painterly strokes, and stretches of bold unblended color.
Kees van Dongen, Maria, 1907–10, Oil on canvas
MAM After Dark is a monthly after-hours event at the Milwaukee Art Museum, centered around the museum’s featured exhibition. Tonight’s MAM After Dark: Cancan, highlighting the current exhibition “Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries,” offered a peek at the Brew City Bombshells Burlesque Troupe, French cuisine by Milwaukee’s Coquette Cafe, wine tasting, and live music by Milwaukee Hot Club. Though I didn’t get to stay long, it’s always fun to experience the featured exhibition amid a setting that emulates the energy and spirit of the works themselves. Although French poster exhibits have been exhausted many times over, “Posters of Paris” was still a joy to visit, the sheer scale of choice works quite stunning, the selection—an engaging mixture of instantly recognizable prints (that adorned many of our dorm room walls, including mine) and novel preparatory studies, which allowed wonderful insight into each artist’s design process.
Leonetto Cappiello (Italian, 1875-1942)
Chocolat Klaus, 1903
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Divan Japonais, 1893
Milwaukee Art Museum
This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Milwaukee Art Museum’s annual juried art festival, the Lakefront Festival of Arts. The Lakefront Festival features more than 170 artists, this year featuring a commendable variety of artists (an improvement upon last year’s selection in my opinion). A few of my favorites this year include photographer Cali Hobgood, mixed media artist Dolan Geiman, and printmaker Nick Wroblewski.
John Taylor’s Shirts
Cali’s hand-colored black and white photographs capture everyday objects, isolated in a manner which, in Cali’s words: “gives them an iconic nature that moves the images from the everyday to a moment from our lives.” Striking in person, I can attest to the power of Cali’s photographs (especially her large-scale prints, in which the stunning hand-coloring can truly be appreciated). My only complaint, how am I to choose just one? (as at least one of these prints will inevitably be joining the ‘must have’ list). Envelope and The Manuscript over my desk? Flippers or The Sink in the bathroom?
Virginia Den Collection
Mixed media artist Dolan Geiman uses up-cycled materials to create contemporary yet rustic folk pieces which don the homes of privates collectors and windows of international retailers alike.
Navigating the Night
Hand-cut woodblock print
I am beyond drawn to the lovely nature-inspired woodblock prints by Midwest-based artist Nick Wroblewski. The printmaker’s latest works, including Navigating the Night, demonstrate an especially discerning sense of balance and color.