Ariana Vaeth: New Work

July 13, 2020 - December 23, 2020

Photo: Daniel McCullough
Rose Garden

Admission by appointment only. Capacity limited to three visitors at a time. Masks required.

For same-day appointments, call 414-446-8794. Gallery hours are 10 am-4 pm; closed Thursdays.

To view a slideshow of this exhibition, click here.
To view or download a copy of the gallery notes, click here.
Read a review of the exhibition at the Shepherd Express website.

Price List and Proceeds
For a price list, please email Fifty percent of the proceeds of each sale will go to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund to be used for Chrystul Kizer’s defense. Learn more about Chrystul Kizer here and here.

Ariana Vaeth: New Work
Ariana Vaeth’s autobiographical paintings are rooted in intimacy. They chronicle formative relationships, honoring the people most important to her in a given moment. According to Vaeth, “these paintings celebrate the generous closeness allowed by those I am privileged to know.”

Vaeth evokes these moments of closeness through staged, performative retellings. Preparatory photoshoots capture gestures and enable Vaeth to see herself as others see her—but her inclusion in the paintings restricts her agency: “I can never fully be director or actor when producing a composition.” Instead, she exchanges control for the serendipity found in interactions among trusted loved ones. Prior to painting, she reasserts that control, constructing the final composition from elements drawn from different photographs.

In addition to portraying her closest friends and herself, Vaeth constructs domestic spaces for them to inhabit. Defined by cramped perspectives and a modified bird’s-eye view, these “by invitation only” settings are filled with props and patterns, each rug and curtain freighted with specific memories, each a piece in Vaeth’s personal narrative. Bodies are depicted in a single plane, as if to equalize personalities—everyone’s a diva in these paintings—amping up the compositional tension. Gestures--as in “Pre-Game”-- appear to burst beyond the confines of the canvas. Facial expressions—as in “Rose Garden”-- take on dramatic weight. “These are moments that are about to break,” says Vaeth. “They represent peaks—peaks that may come again, but may not.”

In the gallery, Vaeth displays seven recent paintings. (Outside the main gallery, Vaeth’s love of pattern overflows in a series of 12 x 12-inch paintings exploring pattern and texture, another, non-figurative, index of Vaeth’s memories.) These self-portraits, mostly with companions, find Vaeth participating in the rituals and inhabiting the environments of close friendship: talking, hanging out in kitchens and bathrooms, curled up on a couch. Make-up, hairbrushes, bottles of wine and local beer, bananas, pickles, abandoned coffee mugs, and the occasional dog are in evidence. And yet there is nothing mundane about these paintings, which instead convey intimacy—and especially the intimacy of young women—with an intensity that borders on the magical. Vaeth describes herself as “utilizing my most prized companions to build a piece of shelter.” In these new works she invites us, temporarily, into this glamorous, clamorous refuge.

About the Artist
Ariana Vaeth was raised in Baltimore and received her BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. While an undergraduate, she participated in an exchange program with the Maryland Institute College of Art. Following graduation, Vaeth completed a studio based artist-in-residence program at her alma mater and then received a 2017 Greater Milwaukee Foundation Mary L Nohl Fund Fellowship in the Emerging Artist category. She was an inaugural recipient of, a program modeled on Gener8tor’s accelerator for creative entrepreneurs, and in February she received a Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Award as a promising newcomer. Vaeth has exhibited in Milwaukee at the Portrait Society Gallery, the Charles Allis Museum, and the Haggerty Museum of Art; and in Chicago at Woman Made Gallery and the Museum of Science and Industry in the Black Creativity exhibition. Her work was selected for the 2019 Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

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