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There’s No Place Like Home

by Julie Strand Our annual art extravaganza, ArtWalk, Saturday & Sunday Oct 4-5, will be especially exciting this year as Riverwest Artists Association celebrates their new home. artwalkweb.jpg     Six years without a home is a long time for anyone – perhaps   especially an arts organization. There aren’t many that could have   survived such a long period of homelessness.      However, the Riverwest Artists Association is extraordinary and   strong. In fact, it has been in existence since the mid 1970s. Today   the organization’s new place of residence is The Jazz Gallery at 926   E. Center Street.      Before, during and after interviewing board members Darlene   Hagopian and Mark Lawson, I was bombarded by stories about   the space. It was a jazz club where most of the major players from   the 60s and 70s performed. After the jazz club left, the space was   a rock club.      It’s easy to picture the space as a musical venue with many talented   pairs of feet crossing the black and white tiled stage that still stands   in the gallery. With the arrival of RAA, talented artists once again   walk through the space, just a different kind.      While the space is now a venue to showcase visual arts, it is more   than that. RAA has created a Riverwest Community Art Center   which also rents two studios in the building to local artists   providing them with affordable housing.      “This new art center provides a foothold in the neighborhood for   art,” says Darlene Hagopian, board member. “There used to be six   art galleries in Riverwest, and that number is getting smaller and   smaller. As an artist organization we feel like a physical presence   is important.”      No Rest for the Artistic      You would think that after buying and renovating a building,   putting up an excellent historical art show, and sponsoring Center   Street Days RAA members would collapse from exhaustion, but   art never sleeps.      The 2008 Riverwest ArtWalk, sponsored and organized byRAA   will take place Oct. 4 and 5, Noon-5pm. And don’t forget the party   at the Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh, on Saturday night.      Our neighborhood’s own version of gallery night is a way for   Riverwesters and visitors to see very locally grown art by the artists who created it.      The types of places included in ArtWalk   are homes, coffee shops, cafés and other   businesses that hang art on their walls.      “This event is representative of the   diverse nature of the community,” says   Mark Lawson, a long time RAA board   member. “When ArtWalk first started   in 1979, it wasn’t just about showing   art, it was an effort to show Milwaukee   that the neighborhood was safe to walk   in.      “People see this neighborhood as   an artist neighborhood, but RAA’s   ArtWalk, along with other longstanding   arts organizations, have made this   neighborhood what is it today.      Thirty years ago it wasn’t the artsy   neighborhood it is now.”      ArtWalk Protocol      Just in case you’ve never done ArtWalk   before, it’s easy. You buy a ticket and get   a map, then walk around the Riverwest   neighborhood anytime on the weekend   of Oct. 4 and 5. You get to see artists   and their studios, and even buy some   wonderful local art – and eliminate the   middle-man.      Artists not to be missed include fiber   artists from Jester Studio, abstract   photographer Amy Schmutte, Somalian   jeweler Yusef Baba, landscape artist   Cathe Cowling, and Peggy Riverwest,   Riverwest Artists Association   Check out the new art on garage doors,   thanks to this initiative by RNA and   Sura Faraj, in these alleys:   3000 block between Holton and Booth   3000 block between Booth and Pierce   2900 block between Pierce and Fratney   an artist who lived in the neighborhood   over 15 years ago and is coming back   just for ArtWalk.      RAA’s new home, the Jazz Gallery, will   be one of the sites listed on the ArtWalk   map. If for some reason you don’t get   to stop by there during the walk, it’s   open Thursday nights from 5-8pm and   Saturdays from 12-5pm. The current   exhibit, featuring artists who have   supported RAA throughout its history,   will be up until September 20.      Don’t Forget the T-Shirt      The ArtWalk T-shirt design for this   year was done by local graphic artist   Maureen Kane, and celebrates RAA’s   new home. Another tradition you   won’t want to miss is Sigmund Snopek   and Michael Woods in their Sunday   afternoon concert at Garden Park on   Locust and Bremen. And pick up some   veggies at Gardener’s Market while   you’re there.      Tickets to ArtWalk 2008 are $3 for adults   and $2 for students and seniors. They  can be purchased at: Jazz Gallery (926   E Center),  Art Bar (722 E Burleigh),   Beginning Dreams (833 E Burleigh),   and the Riverwest Co-op (733 E Clarke   St).   Don’t Miss   Riverwest Artists Association   RAA Members Art Show at the Jaxx Gallery 926 E Center   Beginning Dreams Forever   833 E. Burleigh   Sat & Sun, Oct 4 & 5, NOON-5PM   Sculpture, paintings, tote bags, pots,   prints, and blacksmith showing in the   garden      Art*Bar   722 E. Burleigh   Sat, Oct 4, 7PM   Artist Party with The Black Oil Brothers   from Chicago      Gardeners Market   Garden Park, Locust & Bremen   Sun, Oct 5, Noon-3PM   Sigmund Snopek & Michael Woods