Sunday, November 05, 2006

Milwaukee International & Bowling Update

Trying to review an event that you didn't go too is hard to say the least and I think that the best policy when it is to tilt towards generosity. So, in this context; I will say from what I can see-- The Milwaukee International and the city of Milwaukee totally rock. I came across a review online, that confirms my impressions.

"There are a couple of possible approaches. If you want to promote your local art community and you live in a formerly industrial Midwestern burg such as Milwaukee, you can move in two directions: You can either try to puff up your feathers and sell your “sophistication and quality of life” which is the overwhelmingly common approach or you can hunker down and celebrate what gives your community its essential charm and character at the great risk of just reinforcing stereotypes or becoming the laughing stock of the international art world.

The organizers of Milwaukee’s first international art fair took the latter route and brilliantly accomplished the seemingly impossible. They seamlessly and sincerely welded together beer, bowling, brats and polka music with highbrow art product. And they did not take the kitschy or demeaning route, whereby they held the art fair in a homey bowling alley/bar site just to be cool and laud ironic sophistication above the “joke.” No, they did this earnestly, with respect to Milwaukee traditions and the brotherhoods of bowling and polka dancing, and essentially, they brought the mountain to Mohamed."

One could tell just from the listed galleries and non profits that this was not some kind of inside joke.

"This first attempt at an art exposition that capitalized and celebrated the essential small town nature of our Midwestern locale rather than working to overcome or conceal it, clarified how ambitious and well-connected are our youngish art professionals. The underlying message of the fair was that Milwaukee is cool because of its quirks, its beer and its taverns. Who wouldn’t want to come here and warm their hands around a bottle of Miller at a fine wooden bar with the comforting glow of a TV in the corner and the clamor of bowling pins within earshot. These artists and gallery dealers stay here because of this. The galleries from Zurich and New York came here because of this. As Riepenhoff said, “It was enticing to them because of the fun, off-location. Putting contemporary objects in a real community and a real space was exciting.”How did the work sell? Brenner says that sales weren’t great, but no one had high expectations. Perhaps if this team sponsors a similar enterprise next year they will attract an even more diverse audience and sales will increase. Let’s hope so."

1 comment:

Selene dePackh said...

Well said-- as one who has spent some very nice times in that town, it's right on the money... and something Pittsburgh could learn a lot from.