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Lynden Blog

October 1, 2015 | Joe Acri

The night before last was our final late Wednesday of the season; in fact, it was pitch dark well before we locked the gates at 7:30 pm.

September 1, 2015 | Joe Acri

It is Labor Day and we are laboring, though by the time you get this, work, school and a slew of regular activities will be back in full swing, as if the three-day interruption had never happened.

August 24, 2015 | Willy

This is the ninth in a series of blog posts by Pegi Christiansen, who is a Lynden artist in residence through October 2015. As part of her project, Distance, Pegi will accompany people, in groups of up to three, on their first trip to Lynden. She will pick them up, drive them out, take a walk with them, and bring them back. As part of the excursion, she will ask some questions about distance. If you are interested in participating in this aspect of Pegi's project, please call 414-446-8794 or email info@lyndensculpturegarden.org and mention you are interested in a “distance visit.”

Sura Faraj and I have known each other long enough that even though we can’t remember when we met and when we last saw each other, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation during our three hours together on June 24. When we connected via email in March to do a “Distance” visit, she was recovering from a herniated disk that had kept her flat on her back for months. Thanks to acupuncture, Sura was able to stroll through the grounds and sit on the grass to share a picnic lunch.

Sura’s mother died in May of 2012. In response to her grief, Sura started to learn about medicinal herbs and plants, which her mother had an interest in as well. Sura told me stories about her mother’s capacity for healing, and how her mother overcame shingles while Sura’s uncle, a doctor, didn’t.

Jewelweed
Jewelweed at Lynden

Sura takes her dog for walks along the Milwaukee River and also identifies and studies the plants. She pointed out Jewelweed for me at Lynden and explained it is excellent for poison ivy and soothing insect bites. I admire Sura because when she sees something that needs to be done, she figures out a way to make it happen. When she started to get angry with the mountain bikers who cut their own trails along the river, disrupting sensitive ecosystems like a beech grove, she founded the Milwaukee River Advocates. Its goal is “to protect the natural habitat” of the river from many threats, including “intense and irresponsible recreational use.” (I learned a new term from Sura: greenwashing. It applies to the bikers who would tell her they were creating “sustainable trails,” which sounds environmentally friendly.)

Sura’s study of plants led to her developing tinctures and infused oils, now primarily from plants she grows in her own yard, like Solomon’s seal. You can find her Root Flower Remedies tins of ointment and lip balm at Fischberger’s Variety and the Riverwest Co-op.

Our roving conversation swung around specifically to the topic of distance. Sura believes our current capacity for long distance travel has disrupted our connection to the land and habitat. “Travel has allowed the human species to dissect the earth and disassociate from it,” she said. It pleased her to see how the Lynden Sculpture Garden has been a careful shepherd “rewilding” the grounds. She adored the removal of the fence that used to stand around the formal garden, with only the wooden gate remaining.

August 1, 2015 | Joe Acri

I'm writing this on a quiet summer afternoon.

July 1, 2015 | Joe Acri

I have recently finished reading Zora Neale Hurston's Moses, Man of the Mountain and several articles and interviews by Susan Manning devoted to Reggie Wilson and his work in the February issue of TDR

June 24, 2015 | Willy

This is the eighth in a series of blog posts by Pegi Christiansen, who is a Lynden artist in residence through October 2015. As part of her project, Distance, Pegi will accompany people, in groups of up to three, on their first trip to Lynden. She will pick them up, drive them out, take a walk with them, and bring them back. As part of the excursion, she will ask some questions about distance. If you are interested in participating in this aspect of Pegi's project, please call 414-446-8794 or email info@lyndensculpturegarden.org and mention you are interested in a “distance visit.”

Last year Lynn Bartkus contacted Lynden about having a visit exchange. She is a docent at Ten Chimneys in Genesee Depot, the estate of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, widely regarded as the greatest husband-and-wife acting team in the history of American theater.


Lynn Bartkus leading a tour at Ten Chimneys

On May 19 I drove to Ten Chimneys for the first time, about the same distance as my home is to Lynden. On my way out, I wondered whether there would be any similarities between Ten Chimneys and Lynden. It turns out there are plenty!
--The Lunts (1922) and the Bradleys (1926) married around the same time.
--They both sought country retreats near Milwaukee in what were then rural areas.
--Both tamed and transformed the land they bought. For the Bradleys, it was turning a farm into a pastoral landscape. For the Lunts, Lynne explained they “created a retreat for friends and family.” Lynn told me the Lunts let guests pick the breakfast tray they wanted, plus what, where, and when the meal would be served so they would feel pampered.
--Both developed well-tended gardens.
--The Bradleys put in a pond and built a bathhouse for swimming (Mrs. Bradley was an avid swimmer). Lunt and Fontanne installed an L-shaped swimming pool with a dramatic pool house. (Every building and room on the property has the appearance and feeling of a stage set.)

As you can tell from the top picture, Lynn, whose mother thought Fontanne personified glamour and named Lynn after her, gave an animated two-hour tour of the sixty acres at Ten Chimneys. Lynn trained to be a docent five years ago. I told her how much I enjoyed her tour, and Lynn said she learned that people wanted to hear fun stories by shadowing other docents.

A week later, on May 26, Lynn met me at Lynden in the morning. Rain was predicted, but it held off until the moment we said goodbye.

Early on in our walk around Lynden, we stood by the birch stand near the east end of the pond. Lynn brought up the birches at Ten Chimneys. She said they are a Scandinavian good luck symbol and are often given as wedding presents. Lynn suggested both the Lunts and Bradleys “loved life and nature.”


Lynn Bartkus at Lynden

It takes Lynn an hour to drive from her home to Ten Chimneys, but she does not mind the distance. She uses the time to see Wisconsin and often takes back roads.

She likes that you can wander at Lynden and votes for not introducing paths. Once you have paths, she finds people tend to assume they should “Keep Off the Grass,” whether there are signs or not.

Lynn has a very active Facebook presence and uses it primarily to post pictures of grandchildren for family members who don’t live nearby. Even though it sometimes seems intrusive, Lynn thinks social media invasions of privacy are here to stay.

Her eight grandchildren live in Southeastern Wisconsin. She wants to bring them to Lynden. I showed her one of the sculptures children like best, George Sugarman’s Trio. “It’s like the spine of a whale,” she said. After the visit she emailed to tell me how she delighted in “the lushness, the sculptures, the pond—to relax and breathe the fresh air.” I’m so glad Lynn contacted Lynden last year. Since visiting Ten Chimneys, I find myself asking everybody if they’ve ever been there. Whether you are a theater fan or not, it’s definitely worth signing up for a tour.

June 1, 2015 | Joe Acri

We know summer is almost here because everything is green, green, green. The lilacs have passed, and spring flowers are no more than a memory.

May 29, 2015 | Willy

In the first half of its twelfth cycle, funding assistance with shipping and travel was recommended for fifteen artists. These artists--five of them past Nohl Fellows—work in a range of media and their exhibitions will take them to Fairfield, Iowa; New York, New York; Lock Haven, Pennsylvania; Austin and Dallas, Texas; Park City, Utah; Farmville, Virginia; Fish Creek and Madison, Wisconsin; and Clearmont, Wyoming. Destinations abroad include São Paulo, Brazil; Vence, France; Apples, Switzerland; and Istanbul, Turkey.

Cynthia A. Brinich-Langlois is bringing work she made during previous residencies at the Ucross Foundation in Clearmont, Wyoming--a collection of handmade artist books that address the history of various cultures, settlements, and range management techniques that converge in this place--to a group exhibition at the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery.

Cynthia Brinich-Langlois 02

For his first solo exhibition, Jamal L. Currie will be showing video and video installation at the Clinton County Arts Council's Station Gallery in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. The show will include television sculptures, and single-channel and interactive video works.

Jamal Currie 01

2011 Nohl Fellow Richard Galling is taking part in Curbit, a three-day festival in Apples, Switzerland. Galling is designing a project as part of Lifetime Achievement, an alternative pedagogical platform based in Milwaukee.

Richard Galling 01

Jon Horvath joined a former Nohl Fellow in a two-person exhibition, On the Road: Hans Gindlesberger and Jon Horvath, at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. The exhibition featured independent and collaborative works, including excerpts from Horvath's "Passages" series: GPS drawings of Jack Kerouac text being “driven” on Wisconsin’s alphabetically labeled county highway system. Horvath was also able to give a guest lecture at Virginia Tech and to offer critiques.

Jon Horvath 01

Julie Briede Ibar will have work in six group shows at the Edgewood Orchard Galleries in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, this summer.

T5015_Ibar_Solo Yellow Slipper

Robin Jebavy is renting a truck to transport her large-scale paintings to the ICON Gallery in Fairfield, Iowa, where she has a solo exhibition this summer.

Robin Jebavy 01

Marsha McDonald was one of three Wisconsin artists invited to participate in a Wisconsin Waterways exhibition at the James Watrous Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin. She showed a video, 100 origami canoes, moon viewing boxes and paintings.

Marsha McDonald 01

Alec Regan of American Fantasy Classics (Nohl Fellow 2011) collaborated with Homeland Security, an artist-run, non-commercial, domestic exhibition space in Dallas, Texas on an exhibition of 2- and 3-dimensional collaborative works during the Dallas Art Fair. The exhibition included the planting and dedication of a garden plot. AFC and Homeland Security see this as the beginning of a long-term collaboration between two artist-run organizations.

Regan_Mezzenga'sHollow

Chris J. Robleski drove to Texas to participate in Art City Austin, a juried outdoor art fair run by Art Alliance Austin. Robleski exhibited the night-time photographs he makes with "just a camera, flashlights, and no computers."

Robleski 2 - Painted Desert Trading Post

Albulena Shabani is traveling to Istanbul, Turkey, to screen Trebled Times, a collection of interviews with Kosovan musicians who discuss life and music in Kosovo's recent past. Shabani will be an artist-in-residence at Halka Art Project, a non-profit independent arts organization, and in addition to screening the film, will perform original Albanian songs written while working on Trebled Times in Kosovo.

Albulena Shabani 01

Cristina Siqueira (Nohl Fellow 2013) brought a version of the video installation she made for her Nohl exhibition, and the original artwork produced for the Monga / Ape Girl documentary poster, to Las Magrelas Bar e Bicicletaria in São Paulo, Brazil. Siquiera gave a talk as part of a “meet-the-filmmaker” night.

Cristina Siqueria 02

Roy Staab will make a site-specific sculpture installation from materials collected on the land for Vence-Art-Nature 2015, an outdoor festival curated by Yves Rousguisto in Vence, France.

Roy Staab 02

Christopher Thompson (Nohl Fellow 2010) and Michael Vollman screened The 414s at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The short film was purchased by CNN Films.

Christopher Thompson 02

2005 Nohl Fellow Steve Wetzel traveled to New York to screen his video, From the Archives of an Inventor, as part of the Flaherty NYC series at Anthology Film Archives.

Stephen Wetzel 02

May 22, 2015 | Willy

This is a blog post by Pegi Christiansen, who is a Lynden artist in residence through October 2015. To learn more about her residency, Distance, click here.

On April 15, eleven people sat in a circle in the upstairs Lynden studio for a Failure Round Robin. Eight of us took five to ten minutes to describe a failure and its implications. I let people know it could be any kind of failure, so I had no idea what to expect.

We experienced a heartfelt ninety minutes. It was not a therapy session, though we did comfort each other. We all laughed quite a bit.

At a number of points, I asked people to explain more about the failure aspect of their stories. Some didn’t sound like failures to me. This ended up as one of the themes. As Jeanie put it, “failure is about self-judgment.”

Robin talked about the self-doubt, confusion, isolation, and fear she has felt getting turned down for tenure-track teaching positions. Jeanie commented, “All adjunct instructors feel like failures and second-class citizens.” Robin’s failure has led her to work even harder and drives her to be more adventurous in her studio.

Chuck declared cheerfully, “I rehearse for failure on a daily basis.” Chuck is very involved in bird watching and migratory counts. Although he loves dogs, it is upsetting to him when owners, against rules posted on signs, let their dogs run off-leash in parks and preserves. He wants to be an ambassador for the bird community when he speaks with dog owners about their misbehavior. He gave examples of how he has failed in these interactions. I learned that Milwaukee is on an important migratory path that 300 bird species pass through.

Sarah responded that signs always fail because no one reads them. She also finds public spaces interesting because people’s codes for them don’t line up.

“My naivety is my failure, but it pushes me to the next project,” said Sarah. After a failure she thinks, “I am not naïve now,” and this leads her to try something else and the cycle continues. She summarized: “Failure is a drive to meet your own expectations and assumptions. Nothing plays out the way you think.”

Sarah and Brad have discussed how artists often take the path of most resistance. “Artists want to expand a field,” said Brad. “It is experimental and you are not going to be 100% successful.” For Sarah there is also a percentages aspect to failure. Nothing is ever a total waste.

LyndenWindow
View out the second floor studio window during the Failure Round Robin

Brad joked that he was “failing at being a grownup.” He confessed to wearing the same shorts every day from 2010-2012, is just now figuring out the right antiperspirant to use, and has a history of storming off job sites in a fit of childish rage. “I have professional skills, but I am not really a person yet,” he said.

Chuck immediately commented that in his interactions with Brad, “I didn’t have this impression at all.” Jeanie claimed that spiritual teacher Ram Dass, at the age of 75, said he was still dealing with the same issues he had when he was 25. At sixty, Jeanie said, “I am returning to the core of my youth.”

Colleen told Brad, “I didn’t grow up until I was fifty.” Colleen was let go from two management positions in situations where, as Brad noted, “You were designated to be a boss.” Colleen now sees these failures as steppingstones. Colleen tells art students, “In this room failure is expected and you can learn how to go forward.”

Adam brought up that in Western culture everything is binary: success/failure. He thinks we need to “embrace the duality spectrum.” Colleen added, “Failure is inevitable. If you haven’t failed you haven’t evolved.”

Anja graduated from college in 2009. It was during the recession and her friends were all unemployed, but she got her “dream job” in a puppet show. She didn’t realize, “I was expected to train for three years without any opportunity for creative expression.” She had to put on a puppet show with nursery rhymes for children every weekend. After memorizing what she was given to say and rehearsing for weeks, the head puppeteer would nitpick everything she was doing. “I felt like a pathetic idiot,” she said. Then Anja had an epiphany. She started to see the other people in training were broken and wanted someone to control them. “They were puppets!” Anja shouted with glee.

Adam’s was the closing failure story. He had a best friend from third grade through high school. Adam’s senior year, his father passed away and his friend was there when he found out and knew just what to do (stay with him) and was also perfect at the funeral. When Adam was in college studying abroad in Europe, he found out this friend’s mother had died. Adam did not reach out. “He was so generous to me,” said Adam. “I had a barrier and couldn’t respond in kind.”

Anja brought up the Western notion of reciprocity. She reminded Adam that this is another binary.

Chelsea, who came to listen, wrote in graduate school about binaries and ambiguity. She said, “It is all grey with success as failure and failure as success.” She brought up Brené Brown who wrote, “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”

Although it wasn’t therapy, I had a catharsis. I spoke about a street intersection painting project I organized. The painting was supposed to last for at least three months and wore away in four days, despite careful preparation. This occurred almost two years ago, and I still wasn’t over it. I am now.

May 6, 2015 | Willy

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts by Pegi Christiansen, who is a Lynden artist in residence through October 2015. As part of her project, Distance, Pegi will accompany people, in groups of up to three, on their first trip to Lynden. She will pick them up, drive them out, take a walk with them, and bring them back. As part of the excursion, she will ask some questions about distance. If you are interested in participating in this aspect of Pegi's project, please call 414-446-8794 or email info@lyndensculpturegarden.org and mention you are interested in a “distance visit.”

I did not confess to Bobbi Ganiere my general aversion to dogs when we arranged that she would bring Lily, one of the two dogs she and her husband Brian own, to Lynden on April 8. Bobbi and I both grew up in Shorewood and had renewed our friendship a few years before she retired at the end of last year from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Bobbi is keenly perceptive and I couldn’t wait to hear her impressions of the current show in the gallery, “Robin Jebavy: Recent Paintings.” She called the still life paintings “simultaneously opaque and transparent.”

Lily came into the gallery with us (Editor's Note: special permission required for this!), and her quiet and elegant bearing impressed me. As we went outside, I explained my dog disdain and asked about Bobbi’s history with dogs. Her dad had owned dogs, but it broke his heart when they died, so they didn’t have any when Bobbi was young. At a Girl Scout meeting when she was ten, Bobbi saw a litter of mutt puppies. She brought Peanut home, black and white with floppy ears.

Peanut was it until Bobbi and Brian went camping with friends who owned a Vizsla. Vizslas--Hungarian, medium-sized, short haired mahogany pointers—are known for being devoted and smart. When the dog had puppies, Bobbi and Brian bought one. This was in the mid-nineties. They have always had at least one Vizsla since, and often two. Bobbi described Vizslas as “cuddly and sweet” and said she could understand my feelings for most dogs. She thinks the kind of dog matters.

I had never thought about this. Maybe my attitude toward dogs was based on the breed. I was warming up to Lily by the minute.

Bobbi Ganiere - Distance Visit
Bobbi and Lily

During our walk, we passed by almost every sculpture in the garden. The two trees that Amy Cropper and Stuart Morris painted in 2011, one red and one orange, have always perplexed me. Why interrupt seeing the natural backdrop at Lynden? Bobbi had the answer: “You have to stop for a minute,” she said. “It makes you take a closer look at a specific spot.”

I finally got around to asking Bobbi directly about distance. I have been inside the newsroom at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a number of occasions and I couldn’t imagine working there. The desks sit side-by-side with no walls. I wondered how she managed without physical space and quiet. “I loved the newsroom,” Bobbi said. “I got used to the noise. It was cozy and you could learn a lot listening to conversations.”

Bobbi also needed to be adept at using social media. What did she think about all the communication technologies available now? Bobbi told a story about a friend who spent two year-long stays in Antarctica. She could order from Amazon and get deliveries. As Bobbi observed, “There is no place to be totally alone anymore.”

We went back inside to warm up a bit before departing. April 8 was a foggy day between two of rain, so we had been lucky, though at forty degrees it still wasn’t feeling like spring. Lily sat between us and I found myself petting her. I just don’t do this. Driving home I actually considered mentioning the idea of owning a dog to my husband Dale.


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