Shawn Gurath lives and works in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood where he also directs The Academy of Unconventional Art — a storefront studio where he teaches classes, throws art shows, and makes art. Gurath began his art studies at UW-Milwaukee. He then strayed from the academic path and took an uncharted and self-directed one. Living and working for four years in the dynamic environment of Riverwest’s creative community, Gurath has grown to be a painter of professional ability, and an artist concerned with the quality and accessability of art education in his community. He teaches oil painting and figure drawing classes and explains that classes are affordable and students get a lot of one-on-one time with their instructor, which is essential to him. The Academy of Unconventional Art has been offering instruction for two years and is looking to provide other local artists a place to educate. The Academy is a growing collective of artists and provides a needed platform for local artists and musicians to create and show their art. Gurath, whose range of media, styles, and themes make it difficult to categorize his artistic direction, can be called a post-modern artist, but since Gurath has never made art for art’s sake that term doesn’t explain anything to most of his audience. Some of his works reflect the contemporary and unconventional and others are saturated in tradition. Most of his artistic focus has been with painting and drawing and has a wide range of styles and themes with those mediums. Gurath’s subject matter juxtaposes the extroverted with the introverted. His works are both social and emotional in which conflicts mesh with critical contemplation. All comprise a trip through an arcade of sensory input with as much diversity as commonality. Gurath creates images of the inner warmth of wombs and the red-lit intimacies of corner bars. These parallel environments of droning ambient noise, a common pulse, and unseen umbilical cords share a certain security from the outside world threatened only by an impending moment of separation: the act of birth or last call. His lively neo-impressionist landscapes explore the intensity of the natural world through plays of color. Other works are dark, depicting nightmarish displays rich with intimate personal symbolism and painful emotion. Gurath defines most of his work as a documentation of important and intimate aspects of his life– a visual journal that he needs to make. He offers a unique view inside his head in this solo show that puts on display work spanning eights years and makes a striking example of the complexity and range of human emotions and experiences. “Shawn Gurath – All Over” opens Friday, September 16, at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center with an artist’s reception. The 3-piece instrumental band “Shiny Object” will perform a climatic range of tempo and rhythm flow. The public is invited. Admission is free. Show runs through October 16.