“Then & Now” takes a closer look at how selected artists and their work have evolved since their first appearance in INDIANA GREEN. Now in its 7th year, we wanted to do something a little different than the traditional exhibition that we have been curating. It was an opportunity to really investigate and think about all the artists that have been in Indiana Green and their bodies of work. Part of the investigation included a studio visit with select artists to delve a little deeper into how they thought about their studio practice and what they would be most interested in exhibiting. The idea of seeing how past artists’ work evolved since their debut was exciting, and we felt that this year’s artists demonstrated what we were seeking.
Featured artists are Pamela Anderson, Andrea Avery, Tony Conrad, Kay Jelinek, Leah Schreiber Johnson, Tonia Klein, John Kowalczyk, Melissa Dorn Richards, Rafael Francisco Salas, Dean Valadez, Christopher Willey, and William Zuback.
Indiana Green is a regional group exhibition featuring 2D and 3D works by artists living and working in Wisconsin and Illinois. To date this exhibition has featured over 50+ artists whose work ranged from paintings, installation, photography, collages, sculpture, mixed media, and video. This exhibition communicates personal exploration of materials, use of varied media and ideas embedded into their studio practice.
A full color catalog is available for purchase, which features past works exhibited in INDIANA GREEN and current works currently on exhibit. Click here to purchase.
– co-curators, Frank Juarez & Melissa Dorn Richards
Foreward by Kat Minerath
It is a thin moment that separates “then” from “now.” As time continually slips off the precipice, the long trail of history lengthens. The roots that connect past to present continue forming, stretching, and even strengthening. These roots are connectors. They give access to who we were, and conditions that have precipitated who we are now.
This exhibition, the sixth in the Indiana Green series, pays homage to its own history particularly with the selection of this year’s artists. As Frank Juarez explains, the name references Greenseed Studios, where the exhibition was originally hosted, and Green Room on Indiana Avenue, which was the afterparty venue. The Green Room is no longer there, and while the moniker is now distant from its origins, its story takes us back to the first Indiana Green exhibition in 2010. Then/Now connects that distant point to the present by featuring twelve artists who have shown their work since the beginning of the project.
The idea is somewhat reminiscent of the Impressionists of the late nineteenth century. They showed their work in a series of eight exhibitions over the course of twelve years, and were widely varied in style and interests. Some artists like Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot offered sketchy flourishes that became synonymous with the movement. Their art is quite distinct from others in the group like Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, who used firmer contours and a flair for unorthodox compositions. The group was not homogenous, nor was it always harmonious, nor even a set group in terms of its membership. There was ebb and flow, but within those currents an embrace of modern life offered some coherence of mission.
The practice of art today is perhaps more wide open than ever before in terms of what mediums and messages might be found in galleries of contemporary art. A multitude of practices, perspectives, and invention are found. Summing that up in a single word or phrase is not only difficult, but possibly denies their inherent individuality. However, among the artists in Then/Now, certain traits in their careers may be detected. This includes thoughtful consideration of community, particularly as they reach out from the studio and into the public eye.
The curators of the exhibition, Frank Juarez and Melissa Dorn Richards, exemplify this. Juarez has long been active at the helm of Frank Juarez Gallery in Sheboygan, in addition to his presence as an educator and active speaker to students and the public. Melissa Dorn Richards is co-chair of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) Advisory Board, which is a hub for connections on a professional and support level. She is also the co-managing director of Material Studios + Gallery in Milwaukee. Material is a hive of activity that serves as creative home to artists, designers, writers, and others.
The artists selected for this exhibition share a sense of community in a myriad of ways. Not only have these artists been active in the region since 2010 (and many well before then) but they have flourished in projects, often with the spirit of outreach to the public.
Pamela Anderson is enjoying an especially prestigious, and public, position as the current Artist-In-Residence at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Visitors and guests are privy to the workings of the artist’s studio, from a piece’s inception to the finished result. Anderson is noted for her abstract subject matter, and is the first abstract painter to have been awarded this residency. John Kowalczyk is another abstract artist, also actively engaged in the community through exhibitions and community activities. Kowalczyk shares his talents on the spot through participating in many live art events.
A number of artists are active as teachers, sharing their experience with students of all levels. Kay Jelinek has taught classes to all ages, from elementary school pupils through adult learners, always seeking to help students find their artistic outlet. Andrea Avery is the Community Arts Coordinator at Sheboygan’s John Michael Kohler Art Center. Leah Schreiber Johnson and Christopher Willey are both lecturers in the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Tony Conrad is a Lecturer of Art at Lawrence University, and Raphael Francisco Salas is as Associate Professor of Art at Ripon College.
Artists Tonia Klein, Dean Valadez and William Zuback frequently show their work in the region. As with many of their colleagues, sending work to international exhibitions is another way of presenting a local identity to the world while simultaneously seeking new audiences.
Then/Now is an exciting moment in the history of the Indiana Green exhibition. From here we can muse over the past, and witness the present development of these notable artists. It is never easy to say what the future holds, but from this vantage point, it seems that Indiana Green is ripe to keep growing.
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If you go, the exhibition ends August 28 at 3pm. UW-Sheboygan Fine Arts is located at One University Drive in Sheboygan. Gallery hours are Monday- Thursday 8am-9pm and Friday 8am-6pm.
Photos by Ryan Niall.
Stay connected with Ryan at instagram.com/ryanniallphoto.