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May

Center Street, April 9, 2004, 7:05 pmby Peter DiAntoni

If you missed art critic James Auer‘s March 31 comments in the Journal Sentinel, stop and pay attention. He’s piqued by artists who, when speaking to the public about works they’ve produced, express themselves with “like you know, ah, um.” He suggests art schools should incorporate public speaking into their curriculum. Wise words from one who is not only a concise speaker and writer, but also a fine photographer. There is help out there: for instance, Woodland Pattern Book Center hosts a free, ongoing Writers Workshop on Wednesdays. Perhaps you’re already skilled in both speaking and writing, then share your talents with those needing a leg up. Call Literacy Services of Wisconsin, 414/344-5758.

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Tis said that May is the month to be merry. Not so merry though, is the news that Constant Reader bookstore closes on Irving Place, May 1. Schwartz Books, one of the best indies around, will ease our way into summer on May 4 with local writer Will Fellows arguing that gay men are keepers of the historical flame. Lois Ehlert‘s “Pie in the Sky” session is May 8, followed by Marquette U prof Phillip Seib firing his take on the media’s role in the war in Iraq. If you like a look back at our town, May also rings in Sandra Ackerman, executive director of Historic Milwaukee, Inc., speaking about “Milwaukee Then & Now.” Appropriately, May is also historic preservation month — be you gay, straight, or some of both. Down in the Third Ward, at the other end of town where the river runs south, Voss Books, another indie emporium, recently featured Riverwest residents Brett Vladika & Michael Nickel, two young designers employed by Brooks Stevens Design. They showcased their personal collection during Spring Gallery Night & Day. John Ruebartsch, another RW denizen, also displayed his images there.

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Photographs of all persuasions are everywhere this season. Rio’s underclass through the camera of Miguel Rio Branco, now to June 20, at Marquette’s Haggerty Museum of Art, and at Michael H. Lord Gallery on Milwaukee St., digital delights by UWM Visual Arts prof Steven Foster. Lord, who is the subject of a revealing, but balanced feature in Milwaukee Magazine‘s May issue, has long shown the talents of both local and national photographers. These days he has a new neighbor (south a bit on Mason Street), the Bill DeLind Gallery, named after the owner, who is also known for being a Beastie booster. Jenny Bohr (featured in the April INFO) forges on at Luckystar, a formerly teensy gallery, which as you are reading this, has moved to the floor above their former Buffalo St. space, thus increasing their zone threefold. Our very own Peter DiAntoni, you will note, contributed the fabulous image of Center Street for this issue. Expect to see more from him. By the by, if you’re already missing what we won’t have this summer — The Great Circus Parade — head down to Dean Jensen Gallery to view Kimberly Gremillion‘s Shadow World. It’s up thru May 29 and includes some nostalgic circus images.

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Nostalgia reigns too thru May 16 during Theater X’s Jazz, an oral history play with local roots reaching back to the 50s and the Walnut Street area. Over the past three decades, TX has survived some wild financial storms (and threatened lawsuits from disgruntled former members of the troupe), but they recently received UPAF’s stamp of approval and are back on the boards doing what they do best. Their neighbor, the Skylight Opera Theatre, has a dynamite brochure for 2004-05, brought to you in living color by Rockstar Design and VivaColor Printing. It rocks well beyond the usual tired old images.

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With the April 4 grand opening of Art Bar on Burleigh, an opening where Tom Barrett was seen pumping flesh a few days prior to his election as Mayor, it seems the scene is perhaps a bit livelier for local artists. That particular night was illuminated by a full moon, and Full Moon martinis were sipped by the likes of Sarah Kozar of Riverwest Accordion Club fame. The Hotcakes crew came to mingle with smiling Jack Eigel, Mark Lawson representing RAA and MIAD, and two good old boys, Bob Watt and funky Matt Fink, the latter just back from Costa del Sol and Morocco.

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For those of you who recall Laura Owens, a young west coast painter who had a wildly uneven exhibit at MAM, plus a smaller show at RW’s General Store, she’s received pure gold words from The New Yorker magazine for her work in the famed Whitney Biennial. And her name is on the A list of luminaries for the Drunk vs. Stoned blast (now thru May 31) at 436 W. 15th St. In NYC. Brought to you by, yes the General Store & Gavin Brown’s enterprise at NYC’s Passerby. Locals Nick Frank & Scott & Tyson Reeder will represent our town.

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Spring would be dull without music and dance. Miriam Larsen, an expert in African drumming, keeps the beat on May 10, 17 & 24 and into June on 7, 14, & 24. The sessions (6:30-7:30 p.m.) enliven room 123 at the Marian Center for Nonprofits, 3211 South Lake Drive. A project by the Very Special Arts Center, a $35 fee covers both non-disabled and disabled persons. The registration deadline was April 12, so if you are interested and there’s room to include you or a loved other, a small late fee may be added. VSA District Director Heide Planey provides info at 414/489-0541 or . More drumming from rocker Rob McCuen & The White-Hot Tizzies, now blazing thru Riverwest venues, as is DJ Rock ‘n Roll Evan, Thursdays at Quarters. More drumming from Ko-Thi & 2004 Bomba Le! in the elegant Pabst Theater May 7 & 8. On the 12th day, Tango Metropolis, a company of local dancers and musicians, recreates the art Argentine in the same place. And heads-up Ziggy fans, on May 19 David Bowie, who can still scatter stardust at age 56, lights up The Milwaukee Theatre.

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All said, the arts are in fairly good shape in our town, considering most venues make-do with next to nothing. Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, an established site for kids’ programs, diverse exhibitions, etc. is stretching their space at 911 W. National Ave, and in another exciting development, 75% of the $12 million needed to morph 325 W. Walnut St. into the new Milwaukee Youth Arts Center is a lock. Is the time right for Riverwest artists to tout their own gallery night?

Center Street, April 9, 2004, 7:05 pmby Peter DiAntoni