How to Pop-Up

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The pop-up gallery phenomenon is everywhere. “Pop-Up” is now a well-recognized term meaning a quickly assembled, one-night-only exhibition event which usually takes place in borrowed vacant retail space donated by the property owner.

I like pop-ups because they are typically parties. Filling unused retail space with art, music and people, pop-ups disrupt rustbelt retail dormancy and remind the community of the possibility of growth instead of “decline.”

In Kenosha Wisconsin, Francisco Loyola is the master of the pop-up. Working with volunteers and artists and in partnership with Kenosha Art Association and his ExposeKenosha crew, Loyola has taken the “Windows of Kenosha” program to a new level by mounting a series of highly visible dynamic pop-up galleries in downtown Kenosha this summer.

Loyola was inspired by pop-up galleries in other cites like the Phantom Galleries in San Jose and the Pop-Up Art Loop in Chicago. It’s important to point out that pop-ups are often collaborations between city and arts organizations. For example, Pantom Gallieres SJ is produced by Two Fish Design, in partnership with the San Jose Downtown Association and the San Jose Redevelopment Agency. In Chicago, the Pop-Up Loop is working with the City of Chicago to create a “HOW TO POP-UP” guide. Loyola says that, “after working with building owners all over downtown for years with the “Windows of Kenosha,” it was not difficult to ask to use the empty retail spaces for very short occupancy pop-up exhibitions. In Kenosha, we need a permit and permissions from the city and the support of the businesses in the area, but we leave that part of the process to the building owner because every city has a different process.” 

How does he get so much participation from artists? They bring their work, hang it, help transform the space into a gallery and then clean it up the morning after the event. “Since September 2007,” Loyola says” ExposeKenosha.com has been promoting the arts and creativity in Kenosha with events and its online ezine. Over the past few years we establish a network of connections with many local arts organizations, educational institutions and individual artists.  The ExposeKenosha.com announces events and reports on events and of course it’s tied in with facebook. Also, before the Pop-Up galleries, we had already set up exhibitions through ExposeKenosha in coffee shops and ice cream parlors. So we have experience working with alternative exhibition spaces.

Most of the time artists are invited. “Sometimes we have been able to persuade artists to come in from Milwaukee or the Chicago area.”  In July legendary comic artist John Porcellino, creator of “King-Cat,” the oldest running comic zine in the country participated. Porcellino came in from Chicago, Loyola reports, “he set up right along side Kenosha’s own nationally syndicated comic strip artist John Hambrock (“The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee”), Dan Pavelich (“Just Say Uncle – Kenosha News “Kenosha County:”), and Ryan Pagelow (very funny dark webcomic-Buni). Porcellino later blogged about selling a bunch of stuff in Kenosha.”

Why are pop-up galleries a good idea instead of starting a traditional gallery with regular hours and staff?  Loyola says “The one-day events create excitement and a sense of urgency.  It is easy to get the word out through facebook and email and it’s a party, an opportunity to share the artwork we make in the community with the community. If artists sell their work that’s great, but the success of the event does not hinge on sales as it would in a gallery.”

What makes a pop-up gallery successful? Loyola says “it’s both good content and taking time to make a really good presentation.”

How do you get good content? “We think in terms of themed exhibits. In June it was quilts, in July it was comics, in August it will be gardens, flowers, fountains. Think ahead and plan themes based on what’s percolating in the community. We keep our eyes open for art that will best suit a pop-up venue. For example, John Porcellino’s whimsical  illustrated book Thoreau at Walden (Center for Cartoon Studies, 2008) was first exhibited at UW-Parkside Galleries and the director loaned them to us for our show.  In November the plan is to have the participation of the photographers of the Kenosha News for a Pop-Up Gallery sponsored by the newspaper. Every January the Kenosha News publishes a special edition of the best editorial photography of the previous year.  Our pop-up gallery will feature a slide show of all the best photos of the year  and the 12 best photographs (selected by the newspaper) printed in large formate. ”

Although one wouldn’t expect it, a professional presentation is surprisingly important for the success of a pop-up. No one wants to be involved with a shabby event. ” The space has to look great by the time of the event. Even when it isn’t  finished retail space, we put in track lighting even though it is for only one night.  The artwork needs to look good on the walls and viewers need to be able to see it clearly.”

It’s exciting to hear that ExposeKenosha and the Pop-Up Art LoopKen organizers are talking about doing an informal artists exchange . It may be that pop-up galleries will do for artists what musicians have always done: that is, take their art on tour to a sting of one-night gigs around the region.

Pop Up Galleries Have Become the Norm in Kenosha

Quilts by member of Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild shown at Kenosha Pop-up gallery.

Quilts by member of Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild shown at Kenosha Pop-up gallery.

One-night-only Pop-Up Art Galleries are becoming the norm in Kenosha, another indicator that the arts are alive and well in this Chicago-land city. For years I have watched ExposeKenosha coordinate the “Windows of Downtown” exhibitions in abandoned or unoccupied commercial storefront windows with ephemral exhibitions of photography, student art work, artists projects, guest gallery showcases. After three years of windows exhibitions the Kenosha Art Association is now part of the ephemeral art team and the program has expanded to produce pop-up galleries – one-night-only exhibition/ party / events which are bringing out  artists and audiences this summer.

BEFORE: Retail space donated for one night to the pop-up gallery. This is the old Wallgreens's store on 7th Ave in downtown Kenosha.

BEFORE: Retail space donated for the pop-up gallery. This is the old Wallgreens’ store on 7th Ave in downtown Kenosha which is being renovated for the next tenant.

AFTER: Interior with installation of art and quilts.

AFTER: Interior with installation of art and quilts and lots of viewers.

This month the gallery popped-up in the old Wallgreens store on 7th Avenue, which has long served as the anchor window of storefront window exhibitions.

Pop-Up Gallery--the windows of this old Wallgreens's store have been donated for years to area artists as a store front gallery--but on Saturday the entire refinished retail space was donated as a gallery.

Pop-Up Gallery–the windows of this old Wallgreens’s store have been donated for years to area artists as a store front gallery–but on Saturday the entire refinished retail space was donated as a gallery.

As is often the case in Kenosha arts, Francisco Loyola was the backbone and mastermind of the project coordinating many artists and volunteers. Loyola brings the pop-up style of exhibition from the Chicago where artists have been staging these for years.

Margaret Heller of “Ready for Bed Quilts” (a new Kenosha Business) mobilized the quilting community who exhibited their work. Many quilt artists from the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild exhibited their work.

Erik R. Sosa was one of the featured artist with fun colorful canvases that reflected the quilt theme of the evening.

Eric Sosa at work.

Eric Sosa at work.

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Eric Soza’s paintings.

Artist Josie Rodriguez painted a mural for this event on the boards that cover the vacant building’s windows while it is under construction. During the event the boards came down to shown party and the art.

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Josie Rodriguez painted the mural on the front of the building. Francisco Loyola designed it.

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Artist Josie Rodriguez painted a mural for this event on the boards that cover the vacant building’s windows while it is under construction. During the event the boards came down to shown party and the art.

During the event the boards came down to shown party and the art. Josie shown here.

Jason Besier, a featured artist showed flowers made of welded recycled glass in the windows for this event.

Sylvester Costabile’s Cy’s Piano Jam Band” and also Nelson Snyder provided music – Pop-up events by ExposeKenosha always have music.

Mary Pat Andrea set up a Kenosha themed boutique.

As always Pat Kosser from Kenosha Art Association brings her organizational abilities and hard work to these events which could not happen without her.

It is hard to believe that the Kenosha Art Association ran the Good Old Summertime Art Fair last weekend and now this. With so much going on in Kenosha arts, it’s honestly hard to keep up. This is indeed a high compliment.

Report on the 38th Good Old Summertime Art Fair

The Kenosha Good Old Summertime Art Fair was a wonderful success. The day started wet and stayed pretty cold, but the venders and artists and craftspeople stuck it out as did the visitors. I had a great time meeting the artists and learning about their work. Some of the award photos ended up being taken on my phone and the spirit of the day comes through in them.

This man and his wife had yard flowers and fountains made out of thrift store china cups and saucers and fancy crystal serving dishes. Their work was whimsical, subtle and poetic.

This man and his wife make yard flowers and fountains from of thrift store china cups, festive serving dishes, kitchen canisters and other little chotsky. Their work was whimsical, subtle and poetic. Pat Koesser of Kenosha Art Association and I delivered the awards of excellence!

Wilfred Fang makes his own colorful paper from pulp and then constructs delightful constructions out of it.  You see some in the background here.

Wilfred Fang makes his own paper from pulp and forms it into colorful shallow 3-D constructions . You see some in these background here. Fang has been the grand prize winner in the past and his booth was crowded with customers all day.

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Weaver working with cast off materials. Her husband does the weaving and is blind. We talked about the importance of designing the rugs instead of just random weaving.

Weaver working with cast off materials. She told me her husband does the weaving and is blind. We talked about the importance of designing the rugs instead of simply randomly weaving scraps.

Woodworker gets second prize in crafts. He pulled out his "first" place from last year as we walked up!

Woodworker gets second prize in crafts. You can see his amazing bowls. As Pat and I walked up, he jokingly pulled out of his register the “first” place ribbon he received last year.

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Beth Cumbo got the Best of Show honor.

Beth Cumbo got the Best of Show honor.

Beth Cumbo, Heading Home.

Beth Cumbo, Heading Home.

I  like the way Cumbo’s dynamic metallic lines are constrained in the silhouettes of the running horses in her Heading Home (above). These horses remind me of those on the Parthenon frieze. She creates an activated horizontal with the shapes of the animals and sandwiches it in between  other horizontals bands that make up the composition, which is understated yet enlivened by controlled tension.

The music played all afternoon, and was acoustic but more  indie than folk. Kai Andersen, playing with Shaun Fishman and Shane Madsen, was most memorable with  familiar covers but mainly original tunes.  Click to hear a tune by Kai Andersen: reverberation.com

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Music played all afternoon. All acoustic and more indie than fold. Kai Andersen' was most memorable  - I would check this guy out.

Kai Andersen

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SAMSUNGIt’s unfortunate that Racine and Kenosha regularly have their summer art fairs on the same day. It would be a great idea if they could bring themselves to coordinate and do them on different weekends next year. Come on you guys–you do “get behind the arts” together, can’t you talk to each other about this schedule?

Chalk Talk featured at the first Pop-Up Gallery in Kenosha

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Pop-Up Gallery tomorrow at this location!

Pop-Up Gallery tomorrow at this location!

Exhibition features

  • Tremper High School jazz combo
  • Photographic  studies of downtown Kenosha architecture by Harborside Academy high school students (see the work at this link! It is amazing)
  • Mixed media and painting by Maureen Fritchen
  • Sculpture by Gary Wolfe
  • Painting by Beth Cumbo
  • Photography by Jessica Zalewski Schafer
  • Chalk Talk Kenosha photographs
  • Do-it-yourself Newspaper Poetry
  • And much more!
    Harborside Academy high school student   picture of downtown Kenosha.

    Harborside Academy high school student picture of downtown Kenosha.

    Harborside Academy high school student   picture of downtown Kenosha.

    Harborside Academy high school student picture of downtown Kenosha.

    Harborside Academy high school student   picture of downtown Kenosha.

    Harborside Academy high school student picture of downtown Kenosha.

     

Milwaukee Art Museum | Pressroom: “Veterans Book Project” exhibition April 4-September 2, 2013

Milwaukee Art Museum | Pressroom.

Readers of “Scene Unseen” have seen numerous posts about Monica Haller’s Veterans Book Project (VBP) over the past few years. I am happy to report that the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) is exhibiting the project this season. The entire  VBP library will be on view at MAM April 4-September 2, 2013, with the opening Thursday, April 4, 5–8 pm. Because I have organized exhibitions of the VBP and assisted with VBP workshops I have been invited to be a panelists discussing the project along side artist Monica Haller and  local authors April 4 at 6:15pm.

In my view the VBP is one of the most important artworks of the decade.  It is a library of 52 books authored by veterans, family members of veterans or refugees with first hand experience of American led wars. These books were created in workshops Haller facilitated across the country over the past four years. She worked with local Racine and Kenosha veterans in a workshop sponsored by UW-Parkside Galleries last winter and this this year she finalized the library with a workshop sponsored by Milwaukee Art Museum.

Wisconsin veterans have played a big role in this project – please pass the word about the MAM exhibition to veterans and others who would like to know more than they can read in the newspaper about war and its impact from people with first hand experience of it.

Too see online versions of books written by area veterans look for these names when you visit the VBP  library online:

Mike Jackson's book cover.

Mike Jackson’s book cover.

Mick Jackson bio page.

Mike Jackson bio page.

Page from Mike Jackson's book. Mike is a Milwaukee veteran.

Page from Mike Jackson’s book. Mike is a Milwaukee veteran.

Zack LaPorte's book cover.  Zack is a Milwaukee veteran.

Zack LaPorte’s book cover. Zack is a Milwaukee veteran.

Zack Laporte's bio page.

Zack Laporte’s bio page.

Nick's book cover. Kenosha veteran.

Nick’s book cover. Kenosha veteran.

Nick's bio page.

Nick’s bio page.

Spread from Nick's book.

Spread from Nick’s book.

Katinka's book cover. Kantinka is a scholar working with veterans.

Katinka’s book cover. Kantinka is a scholar working with veterans.

A spread from Katoinka's book. A spread from Katoinka’s book.

Katina's bio page.

Katina’s bio page.

Kids Art With Heart in the Windows of Downtown Kenosha

I just  some very  powerful portraits by Kenosha public school third graders in the empty storefront windows in the building at 58th Street and 7th Avenue in downtown Kenosha. They are powerful images and I would like to meet this teacher some day. She is opening these kids up to some powerful image making.

These portraits get  main stage in the vast windows of an abandoned building,but there’s a lot more in the windows. Selections from the “permanent collection” of the Kenosha Unified School District  are on view–these are artworks that have won prizes over the years in the schools competitions.  Also on view are  large paintings created by kids at the Boys and Girls Club celebrating the season. These large mural like images look like handmade Christmas cards the kids made for the people driving by. As usual Francisco Loyola, Dr. Robert Wells of KUSD, Kenosha Art Association and ExposeKenosha are the instigators behind this supportive display of art by made by Kenosha youths.

Let’s talk about community-based art, its pitfalls and its significance. Should we bring a project like this to Racine and Kenosha?

I’ve been following Faith Purvey’s Refoundation project in Milwaukee for two summers. Purvey works with kids three days a week in a  park (it’s really a pretty desolate strip of dry grass) in a poor, urban neighborhood at Melvina and 29th. She shows up with supplies and ideas and together she and the kids figure out what they are making.  The results were unveiled last Saturday  at a cook out and as usual, they are pretty impressive. Community-based work like Refoundation can have a transformative impact for the people who make it, but how do we evaluate it?  When do you know it is a success?  How can we make it more meaningful?   I think this work is meaningful and inspirational but I wonder how to support it. Do you out there–dear readers–think that Racine or Kenosha could  support a project like Refoundation? 

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Purvey writes:

The project serves as a ‘temporary school’ leading towards the construction of a ‘city’ installation, whose process is emphasized more than the product. Young people drop in and work on sculpture, conduct interviews with elder neighbors, share stories, and talk about what home means. I am working with an amazing local intern, Brandin Thomas, to serve art in the immediate vicinity. Franklin Heights is an area that is significantly below poverty level and has an interesting history with the demise of the AO Smith auto plant, and is going through phases of regeneration.

I am thinking of this work [and others that  I have produced] as tactile and functional ‘Oases’ in urban, poor, media-bent, and corporate deserts. In this case, at its inception, paint and water jugs are the blood and 2 trailers are the body : wholistic educational and connective experiences grow via free-form building process, with material and form to bind a social potential.

What do you think? How could a project like this work in our community? Where?  Which organization? Why?

BTW: Purvey will be reinstalling this project at Riverwest’s Jazz Gallery on August 18 from 5-8:00. All are welcome. There should be some activities going with the kids too–button making I think–and all are welcome. IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT art viewers serve as audience for work of this kind–we need to support and attend to these kids and community! I will be there with a few friends for sure.