Current Tendencies II: Artists from Milwaukee, newly opened at the Haggerty Museum of Art, is a curated potluck of work by ten Milwaukee-based artists. The pieces on view trend toward large-scale, expansive installations, with some quirky humor and pleasant surprises.
Jordan Waraksa “Untitled.” Zebrawood, walnut, steel.
Like many Haggerty exhibitions, the art starts happening as soon as you enter the door. Julian Correa has charge of the opening salvo with Contents Under Pressure, a combination of a sculptural (and rather carnival-esque) representation of an exploding spray paint can and panel paintings hung high upon the walls. There are lot of objects competing for attention, but some of the most gripping moments are in the grisaille background, with figures and images that are anything but wallflowers.
Two particularly strong installations bookend the exhibition, beginning with artist and musician Jordan Waraksa’s sparse but satisfyingly rich combination of sound and sculpture. Elegant conical zebrawood forms sit in twisted balance as music, combining strains of classical and folk-tinged songs, emanates from within. The visuals are arresting enough, the but music firmly roots the visitor to the space. This little gallery may be a favorite place to pause on repeated stops this autumn season.
Another of the smaller gallery spaces that stands out is the technologically savvy work of Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern. 13 Views of a Journey is more than a digital collage, more than moving images. Combining references of the contemporary world and historical works by artists such as Eadweard Muybridge and Utagawa Hiroshige, the piece sends the viewer on a journey, moving forward yet back in time.
Tactile sensibilities are played up in the fabric work of Sharon Kerry-Harlan, as textures and words circle around explorations of the the human face. Lisa Hecht brings together eye-dazzling patterned wallpaper and obliquely probing questions, while Mark Brautigam’s photographs seem straightforward until you start getting into the details. Humor and puzzles are to be found in works by Will Pergl, Reginald Baylor, and the charming, hilarious, and poignant drawings of Luc Leplae.
So what are the “Current Tendencies,” so to speak? They range freely over a wide range of disciplines and mediums. But generally, there is a sense of looking outward, to social commentary and response, telling a story or sending a message. This reflects a momentary cross section of Milwaukee’s creative energy, but this exhibition creates a unique touchstone as time, as well as art, marches on.
Read all of “Current Tendencies II: Artists from Milwaukee” at the Haggerty in context