A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
May 6, 2010
01:14 PM

Ins and Outs

Ins and Outs

In its latest exhibition, the James Watrous Gallery brings together eight Wisconsin artists who work in painting, installation, collage, metalsmithing, video and more. What’s fascinating is how these artists collectively start with a shared experience—living in Wisconsin—and from here look both inward and outward.

Selected Visions: An Exhibition of Artwork by the 2010 Wisconsin Arts Board Visual Arts Fellows features seven winners of the 2010 Wisconsin Arts Board Visual Arts Fellowships as well as Douglas Rosenberg, recipient of the 2010 Media Fellowship. Their works delve into a wide range of subject matter, from personalities and homes to history and heritage.

Milwaukee artist Reginald Baylor’s vibrant, large-scale paintings are the first works encountered in the gallery. They Won the Land shows a man in a tan suit leaping over a graphically patterned garden, with an almost psychedelic forest behind him, making the viewer wonder where such a magical place exists.

The setting also plays an important, albeit very different, role in the video work by Oregon artist Rosenberg. In Meditation/Labor (drag/carry/pull), three stacked television screens offer different perspectives of a man’s labor. The man pulls large tree branches across a grassy field, with a huge sky above and the sounds of a whipping wind. It’s a reflection on the cycles of nature, and the man toiling makes it seem as though he has no choice in the matter—he must do this work.

Kay Knight of Shorewood and Roy Staab of West Allis explore ideas of the environment, too. In gouache-on-paper works, Knight renders three houses in shades of yellow, pink, blue, green, turquoise and brown, offering the home as retreat as well as the place where darker stories play out. Meanwhile, large photographs show Staab’s natural installations in faraway locales in New York, Denmark and Brazil.

Natural forces—specifically wind and water—inspire Madisonian Shayna Leib’s glass sculptures. In Meniscus, tiny glass stalks of grassy are embellished with delicate water droplets, while the grasses of the heartier Morrow Sway appear to bend and weave gracefully in the wind.

Instead of looking out into the environment, Jessica Calderwood of Menasha looks inward with her series of “psychological portraits that address ideas of consumption and personal obsession.” Bowl-like forms contain beautiful faces of women, some of whom eat or have flowers flowing from the mouth. Metalsmithing techniques add interesting details to the forms’ edges. Also making use of a tactile material are gold brooches by Madison artist Lisa Gralnick.

Mixed media collages by T.L. Solien of Madison are a balance of inward and outward exploration. Norwegian Costume, for instance, features a woman wearing an abstracted yet traditional dress. The figure is colorful yet her surroundings are mostly black and white, featuring cacti, bottles and mountains in the background. It’s in intriguing mix—the woman’s heritage has ties to Wisconsin, yet the setting is altogether foreign.

Selected Visions runs through June 13 at the James Watrous Gallery. For more information, visit wisconsinacademy.org.

Photos courtesy of the James Watrous Gallery.

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About This Blog

As managing editor at Madison Magazine, I'm also an unabashed arts enthusiast. Paintings, plays, music, movies—I'm intrigued by all forms of creative expression. I enjoy talking with artists and sharing their insights, challenges, inspirations and latest endeavors. Check in regularly for details on events, previews and reviews, artist interviews and more! 

– Katie Vaughn
Follow Katie on Twitter @katiemv

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