We boil down Gallery Night to a few new outliers and old standbys. | By Erica Motz and Scott Gordon
Here’s the thing about the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s twice-yearly, city-wide Gallery Night, returning Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.: It can be a good excuse to wander around and mingle at a bunch of random spots, what with 66 locations participating this year, or it can give you a push to explore Madison’s less appreciated art spaces. In that spirit, we’ve dug through the lineup and picked out several events off the beaten path (and admittedly a few that aren’t) to make your Gallery Night a bit more adventurous and rewarding.
Tandem Press, a printmaking studio affiliated with the UW-Madison Art Department, is a bit further north than most Gallery Night spots, but Tandem’s long-running rotation of resident and visiting artists make it worth the trip. We’re most excited about new work from Jennifer Angus, a UW-Madison textile and apparel professor known for elaborate patterns composed of insect bodies, and Ikeda Manabu, whose impossibly large and detailed landscapes are slowly, painstakingly created with pen and ink. Also featured: new prints from photo-realist painter Robert Cottingham, pop artist Jim Dine, Wisconsin-based painter Michelle Grabner, and collage artist/printmaker Dan Rizzie.
Madison printmaking collective Polka! Press is having a grand opening celebration for its new space. If that sounds familiar, that’s because Polka! already moved into one new spot back in February, but shortly after ended up having to leave and get its second new home in 2015. This one’s at 2132 Fordem Ave. on the North Side, and Gallery Night visitors can try their hands and screenprinting and woodblock printing.
Located in the School of Human Ecology building on campus, the Ruth Davis Design Gallery holds often overlooked exhibits of textile and design work from UW-Madison students and international designers. These shows frequently involve some combination of artistic expression, functional design, and intriguing transformations of the gallery space itself. It’s no different on Gallery Night, when the Design Gallery celebrates Harmonious Spaces, an immersive feng shui installation created by UW-Madison Professor of Interior Architecture Wei Dong.
Exhibitions at the Art Lofts are about as obscure as the building’s location (squished in behind the Kohl Center), but they’re worth finding. The shows come and go pretty quickly, and even when you're in the building's gallery, you're never far from the clamorous, get-your-hands-dirty atmosphere of painters and sculptors at work. This Gallery Night, per tradition, the Art Lofts will be showing work from UW-Madison art lecturers.
Pat Dillon, former owner of Bungalow 1227 on East Wilson Street, is christening her newly opened space at 1336 Williamson St. on Gallery Night with music from DJ Nick Nice and new work from Paul Stroede, whose bright oil paintings capture familiar scenes of Madison.
The Bubbler is featuring a number of new exhibitions on Gallery Night, including, notably, Calculations, Abstractions, and Silence, a new show by Madison artist Victor Castro.
Madison’s two Little Galleries, on Monroe and East Mifflin Streets, do squeeze a great deal of mixed-media exploration and head-turning eccentricity into tiny packages, and on Gallery Night, the Little Monroe Gallery will celebrate Brian Murer’s installation “Cobra Commander Does Wall St.”
Edgewood College’s art gallery, overlooking Lake Wingra, is yet another art space that hosts a lot of good work but just happens to be tucked away in a quiet corner of a college campus. (Does Edgewood College have any not-quiet corners?) Its current exhibition, War Is Always With Us, closes up on Sunday and uses prints and paintings by U.S. military veterans, including prints by student veterans at UW-Stevens Point, to draw attention to the mental health issues veterans face.
Stone Fence, in the old Absolutely Art space at 2322 Atwood Ave., will celebrate new pieces by musician, artist, and instrument-maker Rob Oman. His visual work has ranged from screenprinted concert posters to crafty mixed-media circuit-board-looking pieces, but this show will apparently center around his aviation-inspired paintings.
The Madison Children’s Museum will be a valuable stop for adults with or without children at this year’s Gallery Night—they’ll be a hosting a kid- and adult-friendly “art-making adventure” with Madison-based artist Angela Richardson, who will lead several playful drawing-related activities in the museum’s outdoor Funkyard. The Museum will also hold new work from eleven year-old painter Finn Jackson and empathic cartoonist/graphic novelist Lynda Barry, creator of Ernie Pook’s Comeek. Barry has been settling back into her native Wisconsin over the past few years as a professor at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and UW-Madison Art Department, and the Children’s Museum notes that her show Drawing Fast And Slow, running through January, will be the first exhibition of Barry’s work outside of New York. Jackson’s set of painting and drawings, Farmyard Friends, is all about animals, and sales of his work will benefit Heartland Farm Sanctuary.