Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What a Night!

If there’s ever a reason to clear your calendar and make time for art, Gallery Night is it. Organized twice a year by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the event creates the perfect storm of diverse art, local artists, an art-loving audience and venues that range from traditional to unusual.

Held this Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., Gallery Night allows people to gallery hop through museums, galleries and other businesses, viewing art, meeting artists, and experiencing receptions, tours and demonstrations along the way.

Katie Kazan, director of public information at MMoCA, says Gallery Night started out in the 1980s and has since grown into a citywide tradition with a record fifty-nine participants this year.

“People like the variety of events that are available: demonstrations, openings, opportunities to meet artists, etc.,” she says. “Many people also like the fact that they can gallery-hop in their own neighborhood or another neighborhood around the city. Because participation in Gallery Night is low-cost, it’s a way for non-art businesses (exercise or yoga studios and pet stores, for example) to show and promote temporary exhibitions in an affordable way.”

The following are the participants in Spring 2009 Gallery Night. But new this year is an online map—check it out to navigate your course for the evening.


Art in the Afternoon 3606 Deer Path Rd., Middleton. 469.2994.

The Bohemian Bauble 404 W. Lakeside St. 333.2646.

The Century House 3029 Unversity Ave. 233.4488.

Chiripa, Artisan Crafts of the Americas 636 S. Park St. 441.8808.

DeRicci Gallery 1000 Edgewood College Dr. 663.2263.

Douglas Art and Frame 3238 University Ave. 441.9948.

Fine Earth Studio & Gallery 2207 Regent St. 843.1933,

Grace Chosy Gallery 1825 Monroe St. 255.1211.

Higher Fire Clay Studio 2132 Regent St. 233.3050.

Janus Galleries 2701 Monroe St. 233.2222.

Long Term Care Institute 6502 Grand Teton Plaza, Suite 107. 233.7042.

Macha Teahouse and Gallery 1934 Monroe St. 442.0500.

Milward Farrell Fine Art 2701 Monroe St., Suite 200. 238.6501.

Mound Street Yoga Center 1342 Mound St. 442.6792.

Quarry Arts Building 715 Hill St. 770.3729.

Spectacular Spectacular 1414 S. Park St. 345.4954

Studio Jewelers 1306 Regent ST. 257.2627.

TileArt 1719 Monroe St. 255.8453.

Unearthed 2501 University Ave. 441.1993.


16 Hands Studio 104 King St. 219.0342.

Ancora Coffee 112 King St. 255.2900.

Anthology 218 State St. 204.2644.

Chazen Museum of Art 800 University Ave. 263.2246.

Curved Artists at Café Montmartre 127 E. Mifflin St. 698.6232.

Hyart Gallery 133 W. Johnson St. 442.0562.

Little Luxuries 230 State St. 255.7372

Madison Children’s Museum 100 State St. 256.6445.

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art 227 State St. 257.0158.

Madison Senior Center 330 W. Mifflin St. 266.6581.

Overture Galleries 201 State St. 258.4961.

Porter Butts and Class of 1925 Galleries Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St. 262.7592.

Raw Materials 408 E. Wilson St. 268.0451

Savoir Faire 5 N. Pinckney St. 819.8066.

State Street Gallery 109 State St. 819.0304.

Steep & Brew Gallery 544 State St. 256.2902.

UW Art Department 7th Floor Gallery 455 N. Park St. 262.1660.

Wisconsin Academy’s James Watrous Gallery Overture Center, 201 State St. 265.2500.

WYOU Community Television at Dance Fabulous 212 N. Henry St. 258.9644.


Absolutely Art 2322 Atwood Ave. 249.9100.

Arts 4 All at Escape Java Joint 916 Williamson St. 249.7333.

ArtSPACE Twenty-Two Eleven 2211 Atwood Ave. 257.9443.

Azena Photography 202 S. Dickinson St. 245.2797.

bad dog frida 2094 Atwood Ave. 442.6868.

The Black Earth Kiln Group 149 Waubesa St. 244.5040.

Carta StudioWorks 2001 Atwood Ave. 669.4329.

Common Wealth Gallery 100 S. Baldwin St. 256.6565.

DNA Studios 2057 Winnebago St. 244.0111.

Earley Design 1231 E. Wilson St. 256.5171

Eastside Bazaar 836 E. Johnson St. 320.4611.

Jackie Macaulay Gallery at Social Justice Center 1202 Williamson St. 227.0206.

Lucent Room Studio 305 S. Livingston St. 316.1644.

Madison Shambhala Center 408 S. Baldwin St. 217.2132.

Pong Gallery 1976 Atwood Ave. 206.2759

Radiant Glass 100 S. Baldwin St., Suite 100. 446.2830.

Renéeglass Factory 100 St. Baldwin St., Suite 100. 255.1000.

Studio Paran 2051 Winnebago St. 242.1111.

The Skin Source 845 E. Johnson St. 251.6511.

Winnebago Studios 2046 Winnebago St.

Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired 754 Williamson St. 255.1166.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

School Spirit

Someone recently told me that the University of Wisconsin Marching Band’s annual concert is something every Madisonian must see at least once. I took this advice to heart and attended the Spring Concert Friday night at the Kohl Center.

What a show! Really, extravaganza is the better word to describe the performance that kept the Badger-loving audience, clothed almost entirely in red, entertained for hours—and constantly wondering what they would be seeing next.

While a number of guest artists appeared throughout the night, the band itself was outstanding as well. They played a range of songs, from football-game favorites to hits from The Lion King and Jesus Christ Superstar. And a special performance by the percussionists, in which they battled drumming robots, was an exciting highlight.

But the showstopper, at least for me, was band director Mike Leckrone. Decked out in a sequined suit, the guy never stopped moving. Whether regaling the crowd with tales from his years heading the band or leading his student musicians through a song, it was hard not to watch him. And when all of a sudden he appeared above the crowd—swinging through the air suspended by two wires—it was absolutely impossible not to watch him.

Whether you’re a UW alum, Badger sports fan or simply want to be all-out entertained for a night, I’d recommend making a note on the April page of your 2010 calendar—you won’t want to miss this show the next time it comes around.

Photo courtesy of the UW Marching Band.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Mane Event

If you ever doubted that a hairdo could be a work of art, you should have attended last night’s Hair Affair: The Art of Hair at MMoCA. Designers at thirteen area salons proved that hair is indeed a medium with which to create amazing, inspired art.

The event kicked off with a silent auction and cocktails—including the special Red (Mo)Hawk with Prairie Vodka—by Fresco. Guests mingled in the museum lobby and throughout the Young at Art exhibition of works by Madison Metropolitan School District students. Then Overture Center staff introduced the Ahn Trio, three sisters who also perform tonight at Overture’s Capitol Theater. 

But by 8 p.m., the crowd had assembled around MMoCA’s sleek glass staircase where, one by one, thirteen models descended to the bottom donning hair sculptures and complementary outfits. The looks ranged from a tall stack of black tresses tied together with enormous knots from Aniu Salon Spa Yoga to an updo featuring curls interspersed with real 35mm filmstrips by Cinema Hair Studio.

Other highlights: an ingenious interpretation of the state Capitol from The Ultimate Spa Salon and a retro fifties style (accented with a swimsuit and fishnets) by Cha Cha Beauty & Barber. But these are just a few of the fabulous creations that graced the runway.

From the impressive crowd to the hip vibe to the innovative art on display, Hair Affair certainly made Thursday evening a cut above most weeknights.

For more on Hair Affair, check out Madison Magazine associate/style editor Shayna Miller’s blog, Window Shopping.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

May Artist: In the Loop

For Heather Macali, a beautiful textile isn’t necessarily a finished product. In her hands, it takes on a new life as she hand draws, digitally distorts and then weaves the new colorful patterns.

The UW–Madison design studies grad student has created eighty of these complex weavings for her thesis show, Warped, which runs May 6–17 at the Design Gallery at the UW School of Human Ecology. Macali will cover five walls with sixteen weavings apiece, creating a vibrant, pattern-filled enclosure.

A few weeks before the show opening, Macali emailed me responses to some questions I had about her inspirations, process, details of her thesis and more.

How did you become an artist?

I have always been involved in the arts, especially fiber arts (coiling, sewing, etc.) and ceramics. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t doing something creative, whether it was taking extra art courses over the summer, doing crafts with my mom and sister, dancing, playing the piano or just taking the initiative and creating work on my own (this came later on in life, probably in high school). As I grew as an artist and designer in undergrad, I discovered the textile department my sophomore year and realized my true calling was in the textile arts. I usually work with the technique of weaving but also enjoy other textile techniques like various dyeing and felting techniques. 

My undergraduate academic experience prepared me with the necessary skills to continue producing work and to take my work to a more sophisticated level during my graduate studies at UW–Madison. I also grew as an artist while I attended the Lisio Foundation in Florence, Italy, this past summer. I received a scholarship to study weaving there for seven weeks.

Where does your interest in textiles stem from?

My mother is a retired consumer science teacher and since I can remember my mother has always had fabrics around. As a child I frequently accompanied my mother on trips to the fabric store. My sister and I loved playing with the thread displays.

Tell me about the work you do.

Memory plays an important role in my design process. My use of color and pattern rises out of childhood experiences steeped in the popular material culture of the Midwest in the 1980s and early 1990s, with a contemporary twist. Making use of digital manipulations in the design process, I produce hand-woven fabric with three-dimensional optical effects on a two-dimensional plane.

I begin each work designing by hand-drawing patterns. Then, using Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator, hand-dyed yarn and a TC-1 (thread-controlled) loom, a very specific step-by-step process takes place. The strict methodology that I have created is intense, laborious, repetitious and utterly consuming—and I lose myself in it! I value this process; it is an important aspect of the work for me. When I finally begin the weaving process, the repetitious back and forth of the shuttle keeps me physically involved in the creation of my compositions, even as it allows my mind to wonder freely. It is so satisfying to watch as my digital compositions come to life with the particular color and tactile qualities of hand-woven fabric built with threads I have dyed myself.

Ultimately I am attempting to create fabric that carries ideas of color and pattern that I have had in my imagination for as long as I can remember, that are part of the visual world I was surrounded with as I grew up. I am putting these visions into a concrete form for both myself and for others to enjoy.

What sorts of patterns and colors appeal to you—and why do you think that is? And what is the concept behind Warped?

I am most attracted to optical patterns, patterns that really mess with the viewer’s eye/mind. I enjoy all the colors of the rainbow but at a very saturated and a high intensity. I usually pair colors with their complement or I work with colors in triad color harmonies. Both of these color combinations give enough of a difference between the colors to have an accent color/colors.

Again, I think that growing up in the late 1980s and early 1990s affected my visual palette, with the use of vibrant colors and crazy patterns in fashion (especially having my mother who sewed all the time, she had fabrics laying all over our house and would take my sister and I to the fabric stores frequently)—and also the cartoons that were popular at the time.

I watched a lot of Rainbow Bright, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony. All of these cartoons had various characters that were the colors of the rainbow. For example, Rainbow Bright had helpers named Canary Yellow, Patty O’ Green and Shy Violet. The Care Bears had all different colors for their characters as well: Lucky Bear was a grass-green color, Love-A-Lot was pink. Besides the use of color in these cartoons all of them had a certain flavor that was associated with them. They all had lessons of helping others and happiness was always something that was achieved in the end of each episode. I believe that I associate bright colors with this certain mood that they portrayed and that is the mood that I want people to feel while viewing my work.

I wanted to create an environment that was filled with pattern and vibrant color with the use of texture and gradation to enhance the visual atmosphere. I decided to create an environment that was loosely based on a kaleidoscope. My main goal for this exhibition was to create an atmosphere that I have imagined since I was a child. I wanted to put it into a concrete form. I am taking what I surround myself with usually and pushing it to an extreme level with a sophisticated and mature eye.

What do you hope people get from seeing your work?

I obviously want people to enjoy the work and view the beauty and elegance that will be created. However, I know that not everyone would want to be in an environment like the one I have created, so my main interest is to get a strong reaction from the viewer whether it’s positive or negative. I do think that children would enjoy this exhibition because it consists of bright colors and some sparkly yarns.

What’s next for you?

I have been privileged to be a teaching assistant these past three years at UW–Madison and I have found my second passion in life, teaching. Ultimately I would like to continue producing my artwork and to continue to educate, whether it’s at the college level or volunteering at a daycare. I just want to keep promoting art to the youths of the world. I am also interested in possibly working as a textile designer producing patterns and maybe one day having my own textile company.

Warped runs May 6–17 at the Design Gallery at the UW School of Human Ecology, 1300 Linden Dr. Hours are 10a–5:30 p.m. Wednesday–Friday and 12–5 p.m. Saturday–Sunday. An opening reception will be held May 8, 6–9 p.m. For more information, call 262-8815 or visit

Images courtesy of Heather Macali.

IN THE MAGAZINE: The May issue of Madison Magazine comes out tomorrow. Here’s some of the arts content you’ll find within the pages:
• A look at the Valley Ridge Art Studio in southwestern Wisconsin.
• A preview of a prestigious dance conference coming to Madison in May.
• An interview with the owners of the new—and historic—Majestic Theatre.
• A poem by Wendy Vardaman.
• Our monthly Overtones section with picks on the can’t-miss performances, concerts and exhibits taking place in May.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Home Grown

While Madisonians eagerly await the Dane County Farmers’ Market’s annual move back to the Capitol Square—it happens April 18 this year—you don’t have to wait to feast your eyes on gorgeous artwork inspired by the market and its bounty.

SEED: Celebrating Art through Farming is an exhibition by seven arts TRIBE artists at Overture Center Galleries.

“All of the art is based on the farmers and food of the Dane County Farmers’ Market and we have quite an exciting mix of art made by seven local artists,” says Tom Linfield, one of the artists involved.

SEED features artwork by Linfield, Aimee
Reid-Rice, Dana Slowiak, Karen Reppen, Gary N-Ski, Bobbette Rose and Jayne Reid Jackson, and represents a two-year collaboration between arts TRIBE and the farmers’ market.

The artists spent last summer making art on-site at the market and on farms, drawing inspiration from the farmers and vendors that sell their produce and products at the market.

Work showcased in SEED represents a diversity of media, including painting, photography, textiles, printmaking, collage, mosaic and sculpture. Some artists created images of peppers, lettuce and other produce, while others incorporated market materials into their work, mixing beeswax into paint, sewing in wild grasses and using beets as dyes.

According to arts TRIBE, community artists and small-scale local farmers have much in common: both start with a blank canvas, so to speak, and the products created by each are most often appreciated in their finished state.

“Artists and farmers work with a passion that offers ample opportunity for creativity and vision,” the group states. “Both believe that the fruits of their labor add to the quality of life for the whole community and rely on that community to sustain their efforts. arts TRIBE artists use the growing processes of farming as a metaphor for the creative process.”

SEED opened March 29 and runs through June 7, with a reception and artists talk taking place May 1 from 5–9 p.m. For more information, visit the Overture Galleries website.

Images courtesy of arts TRIBE.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Movie Time

It’s that time of year many of us look forward to each spring—time for the Wisconsin Film Festival! An annual tradition since 1999, the festival packs more films into more downtown theaters and venues than one could hope to take in over a four-day period. But many of us are going to try our best to see as many as possible.

The one person who has seen all the films to be showcased this year is festival director Meg Hamel. The film fanatic and longtime Madisonian recently revealed what it’s like to put on the event—and whether she ever tires of watching movies.

How did you get involved in the film festival in the first place?

I had attended film festivals in other cities when visiting friends. During the first two years of the Wisconsin Film Festival in 1999 and 2000, I was actually in Istanbul at the film festival there. Our local festival was getting bigger and I heard about the call for volunteers, so I decided to sign up and help put on this show. I think there were about thirty-five volunteers that year, compared to over two hundred now.

What were your biggest challenges when you became director of the festival?

I was hired about four months before the 2006 festival, so by far the biggest challenge was just trying to figure out what to do, and how to do it in a really short time. It was the only staff position for the festival, so there was no such thing as training. I just had to fly by the seat of my pants trying to understand what needed to be done each day. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever tackled in my life, and to be honest I have barely any memories of that time. It was so grueling my brain has just erased most of it. It was really a miracle that there was a festival that year, mostly due to the contributions of the many people who give their time and expertise to make it happen, especially the staff of the UW Department of Communication Arts and everyone at the venues that host the festival.

On a different level, there was also the challenge of following Mary Carbine’s very successful role as the original festival director. Anyone who has been the second in any position knows that this presents its own special decisions. What elements should continue on because they quintessentially define this festival and are the right thing to do? What can be changed to open up new ideas and grow in different directions? That process definitely continues on. Each year little adjustments are made in procedures or features of the festival, while keeping the identity of the Wisconsin Film Festival consistent and meaningful.

How do you choose the films to be shown?

It’s terrifically complex, actually, since there are so many separate criteria that I’m juggling. Sometimes I look for films that I think will meet the audience’s expectations in a particular way, bringing stories that continue certain themes that have been successful in the past, like Scandinavian stories or music-themed documentaries. Madison in particular is a good home for international and social-justice stories, and I do want people to leave the theater learning something about the world we live in. And of course we want to find films with local connections, like our opening night film 500 Days of Summer, and support emerging filmmakers by bringing key new work to the screen, and present films made by master directors around the world which wouldn’t otherwise play here … The list goes on.

Each year the festival partners with programs across campus to find films that can form featured series, so I’m also scouting for good candidates for these. For the disabilities series, copresented with the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education, that means searching out films made in the last year or so that explore the landscape of disabilities. We probably watch three or four times as many candidates than what makes the final selection. There really is a lot of time and effort that goes into picking just the right combination of films that work for this festival.

And tied into all of this are the circumstances of new films: Are they available yet for a festival screening? Is there a print of the film available for our dates? Is it being held to play at “A-list” festivals and not possible for us? Can we afford the screening fees of some titles?

What makes for a good movie? What trends are you seeing in films today?

Technology plays a large role in the creation of the motion picture art form. Changes in technology are affecting both the stories that can be made and how we present them. Many of your readers may have already seen stories about how improved video cameras and editing systems can make it easier for filmmakers to create good-looking work for less money. What this can mean for a festival, though, may be less obvious. With so many titles available on digital video only, it becomes a little harder to find good films available to us on 35mm film. Some of our theaters are set up to play the good old traditional 35mm film only (like the Orpheum). For most of our video theaters, we rent high-end projection systems and install in that space just for our festival (like the Bartell).

Last year we played all 35mm film in the Wisconsin Union Theater. This year we’re showing all digital video, including the first high-definition video system that we’ve used as a festival. That’s a new adventure for me, to figure out what kind of equipment to rent, how to install and ensuring that all the screenings will go off without a hitch. It’s a lot more expensive than using the film projection equipment already in the Union, but we have to make this change to accommodate the format that filmmakers are using now.

How many films do you screen each year for the festival? Do you get sick of watching movies?

I don’t track the number of individual titles, but it’s many times more than the 198 titles in this year’s festival. Far more films do not make the final program, either because they’re not right for our festival, or their schedule prevents them from being included. I don’t get sick of watching movies, but I do look forward to the times of the festival year that are more hands-on and active. So much of festival planning each year is pretty solitary: hundreds of emails each day followed by three or four films each night after I come home from work.

Watching movies is also not a finite part of the job. I pressure myself to keep looking for more, for better stories, to uncover hidden gems. This process can be never-ending, and so I always welcome the time when I have to discipline myself to lock down the schedule, confirm everything and move on to the other parts of festival planning.

Also, it’s hard to make decisions—like film selections—far in advance of the festival without really knowing what the results will be. Will people like the films? What will the weather be? Can we cover our expenses? The best part of the whole year is the festival week itself, because all decisions get boiled down into something concrete. No more guesswork, it’s just about anticipating problems and fixing them when they happen. Instead of just planning and hoping and wondering, I get to haul heavy equipment and do things with my hands. That’s really satisfying.

How does the Wisconsin Film Festival compare to other film festivals?

Film festival are so different from each other, it’s hard to make comparisons. What’s notable about this festival, though, is the commitment of the audience in relation to the size of the festival structure. There aren’t many festivals that are only four days and draw 30,000 attendees. The credit for that goes to the people here in Wisconsin who make the choice to spend their weekend watching movies. Without them, there is no festival.

Other differences exist. I tend to not focus energy into giving out lots of awards to films. Although that can be really useful to newer filmmakers who are working to get their films better known, I’m trying to think more long-term and help the audience widen their interest in different film styles. Awards tend to enforce an idea that there are only a few good ones in the bunch. Both the audience and the filmmakers are better served, I think, when we all get more adventurous with what we want to see and how we can let the filmmakers’ stories affect us.

This means that some of the features that have come to be accepted as a necessary part of most film festivals don’t exist here. We don’t have high-priced VIP access to tickets, for example. That wouldn’t be very consistent with the festival’s mission as a UW education event, and I’d rather work on making the festival more open, not less so.

On the other hand, the festival program does get admired for being strong, eclectic and representing some of the most interesting films being made today. For such a little event, we do have a very good reputation in the industry for smart film selections, an organizational structure that pays our bills on time (usually) and taking care of the films and videos that we’re entrusted with. I’m able to bring films that might not be available to other festivals, simply because we’ve worked so hard in the past to keep our promises and deliver a really good show to the audience.

What’s new to this year’s festival?

The HD projection in the Union is one of the biggest changes. But the festival itself is entirely new each year. Every single film is newly chosen just for this event, and the audience is going to be treated to a full and bursting schedule of great motion pictures.

What’s your goal for the film festival—this year and beyond?

The goal for each festival is just doing it. My whole year—both my work life and my personal life, since they are really the same thing—is focused on producing this four-day event, so there’s a lot of pressure to do it right, not get sick and make it brilliant.

I do look ahead to possibly making the festival cover more than just four days. So many more movies to bring to Madison! And I’d like to do more events through the year. Madison should have a children’s film festival and an LGBT film festival and a food film festival and more. I’d like to do more to support local film production in the state and create opportunities for younger students to discover a higher caliber of motion pictures in middle school and high school.

When I took this job, my sister Amy told me, “Go big or go home.” I'm doing my best to follow her advice.

For more information on the Wisconsin Film Festival, including film descriptions and schedules, visit

Images—of the films 500 Days of Summer, Treeless Mountain, Being Bucky, Darius Goes West, The Beetle and A Winter of Frozen Dreams—are courtesy of the Wisconsin Film Festival.