Sara Daleiden’s first feature documentary with MKE<->LAX collaborators, which we are thrilled is premiering at the Milwaukee Film Festival! Please join us this Sunday for a screening with Q&A and related panel…

a feature documentary by Mark Escribano and Sara Daleiden, s(o)ul
edited with Andrew Swant

commissioned by the Los Angeles County Art Commission

This Sunday, October 8
10-11:30am
Cream City Cinema
2230 North Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Sara Daleiden will be available at the Q&A after the screening. This documentary stems from the last four years of work she collaboratively performed as an art and public engagement consultant for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Civic Art Program as part of their Open Space Creative Graffiti Abatement Project. Weaving connections between social and physical art production as civic engagement, the documentary follows four artist teams in four public spaces (two parks and two libraries) in four neighborhoods in South Los Angeles County. We find it to be a gentle portrait of cultural exchange in an urban U.S. American landscape.
Following the screening and around the corner on the Eastside, Sara will be on a panel moderated by Arijit Sen…
 
This Sunday, October 8
12-1:30pm
Milwaukee Film Lounge

2155 North Prospect Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

We imagine there will be more screenings to come in Milwaukee and Los Angeles in the coming year so stay tuned for that if this doesn’t work!

Saturday, September 23
6-9pm

Exhibition reception for Vicki, with an i organized by Michelle Grabner
Woodland Pattern
720 East Locust Street in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (a few blocks from the MKE<->LAX residency!)

featuring a panel discussion with:
Marilu Knode (Moderator): Laura Perry (writer), Sara Daleiden (artist)
Kim Miller (artist), Erin Washington (artist) & Kirsten Stoltmann (artist)

& a reading by author Lise Haller Baggesen from Mothernism
followed by a Q+A with Milwaukee artist Rose DiSalvo

“Vicki, with an i speaks to the changing power dynamics afforded woman in western culture.”

Promises to be an interesting discussion about gender and working in the arts! Marilu is a long-time colleague and a favorite cultural firebrands in Milwaukee and internationally. An opportunity to engage with her, Michelle and the other people involved with the project who associate to being arts workers and women, and perhaps feminists too, such that there will be an exchange about our relationship to our shared representation. At the base this will be a conversation around defining and acknowledging labor.
In connection with the Beerline Trail Project, join us tomorrow night, Friday, September 22 from 6-10pm, for Riverworks Week’s Creative District Alive! festival. We will have a display of the Hood Design Studio concept design for the linear park and Alma Du Solier from the studio and Sara Daleiden of MKE<->LAX will be present along with other Beerline Trail collaborators to gather neighbor feedback. We’d love to have you stop by if you have time! You can enter at Capitol Drive or Abert Street at the Beerline Trail extension.
We have an online survey for the concept design so you can give feedback that way if you prefer. Full concept design PDF available for viewing here. Please feel free to share as you see fit!

The Beerline Trail Neighborhood Development Project is a creative placemaking collaboration convened by the City of Milwaukee, Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), MKE<->LAX and Riverworks Development Corporation and Riverworks Business Improvement District (Riverworks). Additional collaborators include the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), and our Guiding Lenses Group, including a range of cultural leaders from the neighborhoods and the city. This project builds from the history of the Beerline Trail initiated in 2002 and Creational Trails: The artery initiated in 2012. Our intention is to sustain and enrich the lives of people in these neighborhoods by promoting health, well-being and prosperity through increased circulation of resources, voices, ideas, labor and creativity.

For more information, please visit the GMC Creative Placemaking Initiative to review the Resources and Updates at the bottom of the webpage.

This past year, long-time MKE<->LAX mentor and collaborator, Los Angeles-based artist Anne Bray, came in residence in Milwaukee to generate Designing Equity. The project focuses on stimulating public dialogue around race dynamics in Milwaukee and within the creative industries.
MKE<->LAX partnered with The Frank P. Zeidler Center for Public Discussion and Greater Together to have Anne share her internationally recognized public art and experimental new media art practice through a residency intensive with a racially diverse group of 12 local artists, designers and advertising creatives. The collaborative group generated an initial public art and media project and a proposal for future project growth that was vetted through facilitated community dialogues and a review with creative industry leaders. Our proposal is based in research and development of an agency of creative talent that can advocate for racial equity in the creative industries, partly through providing an active network of creative workers.
Visit the Zeidler Center webpage to view the project video, [Breaking Boxes] workshop results and project report. You may find of particular interest our proposal for moving forward with the agency on page 7 of the project report.
 
Thank you to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for an Arts and Culture Grant to support this endeavor that included covering consulting fees for all creatives involved with the project.
And thank you also to those of you who contributed to this process!

Designing Equity:

A Zeidler Center, MKE<->LAX and Greater Together partnership
The Zeidler Center, MKE<->LAX and Greater Together have partnered on an initiative called Designing Equity to bring awareness to Milwaukee’s racial and economic inequality through public media campaigns, public art, creative placemaking, and facilitated public discussions.  

You can view the project on our website: https://www.zeidlercenter.org/designWhile there, check out our project video and the first iteration of our [Breaking Boxes] workshop which featured Ex Fabula storytellers!

If you would like to be involved with upcoming Designing Equity events or if you’re interested in sponsoring this initiative, please email Dr. Katherine Wilson at katherine@zeidlercenter.org.
The 25th anniversary of the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles is this weekend, and the FORWARD LA: Race, Arts and Inclusive Placemaking conference at USC in Los Angeles was powerful. Wishing us all peace, endurance and clear vision for growing our culture together now.

Exciting cultural development updates from Bronzeville, Milwaukee:


RISE and SHINE is the first episode in our series of short documentary videos about the re-emergence of the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District in Milwaukee. Through Bronzeville Autumn, we are bringing together culture, history, art, commerce, and community rooted in this rich urban tradition. This first episode is comprised of interviews with key stakeholders including Alderwoman Milele Coggs of the City of Milwaukee, Deshea Agee of the King Drive Business Improvement District and Melissa Goins of CUPED Corporation, along with a window into the neighborhood and programs connected to this current cultural development transformation.

Art House Trap and Bronzeville Autumn Summary
(Jazale’s Art Studio Website Post with Images)
The 2016 Bronzeville Autumn series began with Art House Trap at Jazale’s Art Studio, featuring an evolving interactive art installation created by Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, Vedale Hill, Manny Vibe$, Kevin Boatright, and other artists. 
 
Additional programming was offered through Spring 2017 including the recent Historic Garfield School Cultural Campus Groundbreaking on April 4. A few key articles about the catalytic Groundbreaking:
 

Milwaukee Independent Photo Essay: Bronzeville Construction a Catalyst for Revival

Bronzeville Autumn is an initiative of CUPED Corporation, Jazale’s Art Studio, Friends of Bronzeville and MKE<->LAX, in collaboration with the City of Milwaukee, Alderwoman Milele Coggs and the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District.  

MKE<->LAX is currently an artist-in-residence at Jazale’s Art Studio in Bronzeville. 

Support was generously provided by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation through the Marvin W. Haesle Fund for the Arts, the Patricia Ray Howell Fund, and the Martin Luther King Memorial Fund.


Top 5 Choices
Photo credit: Mikal Floyd-Pruitt
© Mikal Floyd-Pruitt and Vedale Hill, 2016
A guest takes in the responses left by others before he contributes to Mikal Floyd-Pruitt’s interactive installation piece for Art House Trap.

Conversations are a series of MKE<->LAX residency reflections produced by artist, writer, and former MKE<->LAX resident Katie Loughmiller. To read about Katie’s experiences in Milwaukee, please visit her blog Love Notes From Milwaukee.

MKE<->LAX worked together with the Frank P. Zeidler Center for Public Discussion, and Greater Together to bring internationally recognized public art and experimental new media artist Anne Bray of Freewaves to Milwaukee for a residency intensive with a racially diverse group of 12 local artists, designers and advertising creatives on November 4-5, 2016. During this November residency, Anne co-facilitated an intensive to generate proposals for initial public art and media projects for 2017 that will be vetted through facilitated community dialogues and a review with creative industry leaders. These projects will focus on stimulating public dialogue around race dynamics in Milwaukee and within the creative industries.

This residency is the continuation of Anne’s previous residency in Fall 2014 in connection with MARNsalons and the Creative Alliance Milwaukee’s exploration of the Digital Billboard Art Project. Anne Bray was selected as a visiting artist and cultural facilitator based on her extensive background in producing public art and experimental new media art in a wide range of cultural geographies in Los Angeles and other cities. The subject matter of her projects frequently explore culturally sensitive topics around race, gender, health, and labor to make space for a variety of perspectives to be shared.

I was lucky to be one of the artists involved in this intensive. I had met Anne Bray about four years ago through my graduate program in Los Angeles so it was great to work with her years later in this new city and new context. I had time to debrief on not just the intensive but her overall thoughts about Milwaukee as it relates to Los Angeles and beyond.

This was your second time in Milwaukee? What were your impressions this time around?

The first time it was all new information to me. This time I was surprised that there hadn’t been more changes. Two years have transpired between my first visit and this one. I had stayed in touch with Sara [Daleiden] in that two years so I was aware of the evolutions that were happening but still, it felt pretty similar to my first visit. Los Angeles changes all the time. Especially downtown – it keeps moving on. Older cities stay way more constant than new cities. That for me is one major difference – the lack of change that you all experience in Milwaukee.

I never really thought about that. In living in LA and New York, I got used to the neighborhoods I was living in changing often. When I go back to both places it’s amazing how different things are. I’ve been visiting Milwaukee for six years and when I came back, I was surprised how much I actually knew about the city just from my quick visits. This has made it easier, however, to focus on getting to know the people who actually live and work here. Which you were able to meet many of those people during the intensive – had you met them the first time you were here?

I had. Not everybody but a bunch.

That’s great and since I wasn’t here for your first residency – what did that look like?

We did three different sized meet-ups. There were invited participants but it was also open to the public. There were small, medium and large groups. By doing three different scales we figured out broad interest, who wanted to work on this and what forms we could possibly take. It took two years to get any funding to do the second round and that’s why there was such a big gap.

We talked about the race problem in Milwaukee and what people could possibly do about it. Was there a most crucial or urgent issue? We talked about “niceness” and how to address it. And I have to say that’s a big factor – how everyone is so nice and non-confrontational in Milwaukee. How can you broach something as difficult as racism if everyone is being polite? That was a clear issue the first time. And I think this is reflected in the three project ideas that came out of this intensive. All three are pretty positive. You know, that’s customizing it for Milwaukee and I think that’s a good idea.

I struggle with this being from the east coast – I don’t know when to cater or push up against the “niceness” or at least surface level positivity. I’ve had some very successful and not so successful moments. At times when I think I’m being passive aggressive, I’ve been told I’m just being aggressive aggressive.  

That’s funny. I’ve lived in New York, Europe and LA. In Paris if you don’t refute somebody, they think you’re boring. It’s like, “You agree with me? How boring!” You get to New York and they are attacking you in the street. You come to LA and it’s way less confrontational but open. Each city does have it’s different emotional tenor. There is a lot of difference in each city. Here (LA) there is no assumed-ness about anything – gender, race, class, sexual preference, etc.. There is almost a quarter of everything here. In Milwaukee there is less variety or smaller percentages and it feels like there is more of a homogeneity that keeps that stability.

How did you feel about this particular group of people that came together this time around?

They were an extraordinary group of people! Those invited jumped right in – there wasn’t much hesitancy and there was a complete willingness to work with each other. I appreciated that a lot. This particular group was very creative so the word play, imaging, being able to draw and sketch – this was really helpful. We were able to get very far, very fast.

I had two very different reactions on the two different days. On Friday night, I was euphoric. I was so excited that we could move so fast with such depth with that group. And designing that whole list of goals! I came in with some and the group added other ones – that was a very expansive and important list for the group and for the city in general. Prioritizing these goals down to three, the fact that it happened without that much difficulty was great. We, Sara and I, didn’t decide how many there would be – the group just formed naturally into three smaller groups. And the fact that all three groups could get to definitions and priorities in the first evening to me was very, very cool. I left Friday night very positive.

Saturday was a very different feeling on my part. I was again very excited about the process that eventually happened. I felt the morning started slow and I think it was the choices that were made. We probably could have jumped right into something but I didn’t know that. I think around 11am or 12pm, when we split back into groups, is when it really started taking off. My job was to create a vacancy for participants to fill. For an artist that can feel like doing little. I did spend an hour with each group and was glad to know the details of what was happening in them and to be informed about the depths each group was going to. I have to say, overall, I was really happy with the results.

So what are the next steps for these ideas?

There will be three focus groups that Zeidler Center is running in three different sectors of the city. And then I’ll be back in January for the next session.

What was your hope for the proposal review in January?

We intentionally left it open. We wanted more community support and to see how the ideas read on their own without all the enthusiasm that we had when they were first formed. I hoped that each project could take off and get to the stage where there are final pitches that can be used to start fundraising. Each project could be small, but I think if they are large scale they would be really effective!

How do you feel about the project now?

I am thrilled because it is going to happen! The first effort starts in March 2017. After that, we will find support for the remaining aspects.  We are combining the three projects into one integrated program. I see it as a 10 year project – to end racism. Which is kind of an outrageous goal but I think artists are totally ready to take it on. Milwaukee will be different! People can make change!  

You’ve done this kind of work before in L.A, as well as many other places, what do you think is easier?

Milwaukee is smaller and maybe more manageable. Los Angeles is the least social city that I’ve ever lived in. It’s really hard to get people together here. Also in LA, there are a lot more zeros in value over everything. It’s much harder to leverage property, signage, any of those things. It’s very expensive to do things here but there is an open mindedness in LA that is really fun to work with. People don’t resist as much emotionally but they do financially. In Milwaukee, people are resisting emotionally – and financially too because there is no money there!

The two cities are so different and I’ve always found it fascinating by Sara’s inclination to do an exchange between Milwaukee and Los Angeles. Do you have any last thoughts on this exchange?

Hmm. Maybe that we can’t wrap our arms around LA but you can around Milwaukee.

Conversations are a series of MKE<->LAX residency reflections produced by artist, writer, and former MKE<->LAX resident Katie Loughmiller. To read about Katie’s experiences in Milwaukee, please visit her blog Love Notes From Milwaukee.

Tracee Johnson, another East Coast transplant in Los Angeles, is a socially engaged artist who I had the great fortune to meet while attending graduate school in the Public Practice program at Otis College of Art and Design. We quickly formed a friendship and while our art practices seemed extremely different, we were eager to find a way to collaborate with one another. Our passion for creating and editing videos helped us find a common ground for communication and telling a story as one. Through experimentation, we created a partnership called Green Box Lab. One of our main goals through this collective is to create more effective and efficient partnerships. We’ve been particularly focused on remote collaborations after I left Los Angeles three years ago.

In Los Angeles, Tracee co-founded and manages The Little House Gallery while simultaneously being the main artist-in-residence. The Little House Gallery acts as an artist residency, project space and gallery. It’s ever evolving and I was lucky enough to spend a week there in January 2016 to launch the first iteration of my performance piece called perception.

This past November, I finally got to host Tracee in the city I was living in! Tracee was an artist in residence for MKE<->LAX to explore how her LA-based practice might translate in Milwaukee, attend the initial Designing Equity intensive with Anne Bray and to hold a brand new Green Box Lab experiment! It was exciting to have my dear friend and collaborator in my new home-base for the first time and see Milwaukee through a fresh pair of eyes.

Let’s start with your very first impressions:

This might sound weird but the airport made quite an impression. It was refreshing to walk through an airport and see nobody. I just thought, ‘Wow, people are home, living their lives and hanging with family.’ The airport in LA is always so busy, almost no matter what time you arrive or leave. The Milwaukee airport has a function but it’s not a place of business and in LA, it is a place of business.

The next day, driving through the city, I didn’t expect to see so much development going on but there was. I was very aware of the new condos being built. Of course, I took so many photos of all the old buildings – all the old brick and stone was beautiful.

One of the first things I remember you doing when you moved to LA was mapping out how little green space there is in LA. I noticed when you were in Milwaukee you kept pointing out and shouting, “Look, there’s a park!”

You’re right, I was very aware of how much green space was everywhere!

I’ll be honest, I moved through a lot of the city in a short amount of time so I did feel a little discombobulated and lost. When I came home I studied maps to relocate where I had been. I still feel an overall lack of understanding of the city. The Beerline Trail was interesting to me – one half of it being industrial and the other half rooted in a neighborhood. In my mind, I don’t understand where they connect. How and why do people access the Extension? It felt like it was in the middle of nowhere! I’m excited to see how the two parts of the trail end up connecting.

In Bronzeville, I was very intrigued by the scattering of spaces that exist. The pockets of left over space due to the removal of houses and how those spaces could be pastured or reinvigorated by the community. There was so much potential to be used as the threads of the community.

I know you could talk about space for days but let’s move on, what were your impressions of the people you met?

First, it was just nice to go somewhere where I had this instilled base of friends. At the intensive I did get to meet people who were outside of this group. At first I questioned if I should join the intensive since I arrived late on Friday and I had missed the first evening session. As soon as I got there Saturday morning, however, I didn’t feel that way anymore. Immediately people came up to me, asked me who I was and offered me breakfast! That was really nice. And even the night before when we went out to a bar (in Riverwest) that crowd felt really comfortable and casual – which I liked. And this probably had to do with where we were but it also felt eclectic. I appreciated the eclecticism of both the people at the bar and the group of people at the intensive.

Of course there was me, but there were quite a few others who work in Milwaukee who you’ve only known in an LA context. I’m curious what it was like to see/work with these folks in Milwaukee?

In Milwaukee it felt like there was more at stake. Maybe that’s because there’s more bias and discrimination. I’m obviously not completely aware of the social scene but through the intensive I gathered that in terms of business development for artists, economy and even just people relating to each other – it felt a little backwards. There are still problems in Milwaukee that feel like they shouldn’t be problems anymore. In general, it felt like the progress is slower there. Not that anywhere is perfect, every city has its issues, but in Milwaukee it just felt like people are trying to fix things but having a difficult time doing so.

I also want to make time to talk about our stuff! Remember we held a workshop? What were your thoughts on that?

Oh yeah! We should remind people, including ourselves, that we did it! It was almost better than I expected. Not that I thought it was going to bomb, but I think we could develop it even more. People were eager to dive right in.

Experimenting feels easier in Milwaukee, any ideas why that could be?

I think for one, it’s more comfortable and the expectations are lower. In LA, there is so much competition that the expectations are higher. There’s a much stronger support system where you are. You fell into this robust art community who supports each other and now you are a part of it. And when I was there I felt like an extension of you and Sara. Therefore, I was family. That just doesn’t exist as much in LA. We have friends, of course, but everyone in LA is hustling – but it’s way more of a tribe in Milwaukee.

I’ve thought a lot about how easy it is to convince people to give others a chance. In Boston and New York, this is not the case – we’re skeptical of everyone! Any thoughts on this in terms of Milwaukee and LA?

I spent four days in Milwaukee and feel like I have more true friends there than I do in LA and I’ve been here for four years. That’s literally the truth. I mean, I’m sure if I stretched my mind I could come up with a bunch of friends here but it’s a different thing. I feel like I landed in Milwaukee and I was given a community of friends/artists and in LA it’s still a struggle to find that every day.

Why do you think it’s so hard to find that community in Los Angeles?

It’s difficult to understand Los Angeles fully because it’s so big. I guess you can say this about any city compared to LA, but Milwaukee is a lot denser. You’re walking through places or if you’re driving it’s much shorter distances. In Milwaukee, you’re much more surrounded by different parts of the city all the time. In LA, it’s much easier to skip over neighborhoods.

Definitely, I think it’s easier to form bonds with people because it’s much easier to run into them over and over. Of course, that isn’t always a great thing either.

Yeah, it seems like there is less anonymity and everyone is more exposed.

You also had a unique experience where you got to meet and know Milwaukee artist Monica Miller during your visit, and then host her at your space at The Little House Gallery in Los Angeles almost immediately when you returned. How was that?

For me it was so nice to have these back to back experiences. Four days in Milwaukee and then to have Monica here for five. We both hosted each other and we both got to see each other’s lives. And since the visits were so close together, we picked up right where we left off.

Not only did we get to see each other’s professional lives but we also got to socialize in both cities. I want to try and do more of this! It was nice that we had at least one night to see the social scene and not have to worry about all the “business.” It felt like a more genuine exchange.

What could you see yourself getting involved in here?

I’d really like to engage with West North Avenue. It’s a major road, a lot of commercial spaces and a border in some ways of the Bronzeville district. I’m interested in the amount of green space and non-green space. I’m interested in doing a temporary group installation along North Avenue that would help visualize what could happen in a more permanent way. Having experimentation of play on that street could help define how it could potentially become a more pedestrian friendly space. It would be fun to play with nontraditional, non-formal uses of streetscape.

Conversations are a series of MKE<->LAX residency reflections produced by artist, writer, and former MKE<->LAX resident Katie Loughmiller. To read about Katie’s experiences in Milwaukee, please visit her blog Love Notes From Milwaukee.

Monica Miller is not a native Milwaukeean but has been calling Milwaukee home since 2009 when she started school at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). During her time at MIAD, Monica met Sara Daleiden and shortly started to become more involved in Sara’s work through MKE<->LAX. In 2013, Monica visited Los Angeles for the first time and in that two week visit, Monica was invited to observe a class at the Graduate Public Practice program at Otis College of Art and Design. This is when I first met Monica but not the last. Two years later, I had my first residency with MKE<->LAX in November 2015 and Monica generously volunteered her time to show me around. I will never forget her taking me to a house, walking to the basement and in the corner was the smallest art show I’ve ever seen, in a closet! In that trip, I was invited to participate in my first femTALK. femTALK, which meets on a near-monthly basis, is an assembly of individuals who identify as females created out of a request for support from other female artists that associate with an art world primarily dominated by white males. I was immediately impressed by the inclusiveness of this group and my ability as a first-timer to speak openly and candidly. When I returned to Milwaukee in the summer, I was excited to work with this group and Monica more closely. Now, Monica and I are roommates and while we have many conversations about Milwaukee, Los Angeles and art production, it was great to sit down more formally to discuss these topics more in depth!

Since you were recently in Los Angeles as an artist-in-residence at The Little House Gallery through MKE<->LAX, let’s talk about that – what were your first impressions?

I could sense it was bigger than a city I was used to. It was much more vast than I expected. I thought it would be a lot more clustered. There are vaster spaces of land and longer stretches when commuting. Because I knew I was going to a city I expected it to feel more city-like. LA doesn’t quite feel like a metropolitan city. New York, for example, is way more condensed. When you’re in those pockets of vastness in LA, you really feel you are in a desert. I took the bus a lot and that was nice because I got to see the landscape more. And that’s what I enjoy about LA – you’re obviously in a very specific ecosystem but the landscape paired with the architecture really shifts depending on where you are. And you can really see that progression especially while taking the bus. The first time I was there in 2013 was for two weeks and I really loved taking the bus and the train. I had time to go all over the city the first time and this last time I was much more located.

This time you spent most of your time in Venice – how did you like that compared to the other neighborhoods you visited?

I think Venice Beach is so weird! The first time I stayed in Boyle Heights, I didn’t even know what that was before visiting, but I loved it. I was able to feel a lot more at home there. The artist residency where I stayed in Venice is super close to Abbot Kinney and I felt so much more like a tourist. It was really odd to walk around and see all these boutiques, expensive stores and people vacationing. I’ve never lived in a place that has that kind of draw. Milwaukee doesn’t really have that draw except during Summerfest but then you know where it is and can avoid it.

And how was it for you to work in Los Angeles and see people working in Los Angeles who mostly know you in a MIlwaukee context?

Los Angeles has this shininess to it so while I feel like I’m having this intense new cultural exposure and experience, they’re just living their life as they do. LA is much more laid back. And I don’t know if this is right but I sense you can get a lot more done in Milwaukee in a day than you can in Los Angeles because of transit time. This last time I was there I had to work on independent freelance work back home and I was having artist meet ups and such. I felt like it was so much harder to get work done in Los Angeles because of that commute. You spend a condensed period of time in a space because you’re not going to move once you’re there. And I think that’s where the relaxation comes in because you have no choice but to just chill out.

That’s definitely true! Getting from place to place in Milwaukee is so rarely over 5-10 minutes – so we definitely have more time here because of that.

Yeah and especially now that it’s the winter, we huddle. We don’t want to go out and do stuff. While we can still commute a lot more here and go to different part of the cities more easily, there is an inherent need to draw in. Of course, in the summer everyone is out and it’s a lot more social. But I think I work better in colder environments. Maybe that’s a Milwaukee condition once it becomes warm you don’t want to do anything indoors. I can’t focus when it’s hot and I also don’t want to be inside working when it’s nice out!

This last visit you were able to host a femTALK in LA, how did that go?

It was so good! Everyone responded so warmly and enjoyed being together. I think it was really important for women to be together and I don’t think they really have shared space. Some of them didn’t know each other but there was an immediate sense of camaraderie to the credit of Tracee and Sara organizing them and that was great.

And from a practice standpoint, it was really validating. I’ve had a lot of hot or cold experiences with people from Los Angeles. A lot of it has been ego-driven and/or fake. Luckily, none of that has happened with people I have met through MKE<->LAX but I’ve worked in other art spaces where we’ve worked with people from LA and those stereotypes of what people are like coming out of that region have come true. Of course, I’ve met really great people too so I just wasn’t sure who was going to show up or what to expect. I know where I stand in Milwaukee as a producer so coming to a new space, with a new group of people and practitioners, I didn’t know how I would be read. As it is, what I do in Milwaukee is often seen as odd half the time. Going to present femTALK which is a really different project and has a lot of layers to it, was received so well. I have an understanding now that LA’s depth for culture and art production is way deeper than Milwaukee.

I agree but why do you think Milwaukee isn’t able to go as deep in terms of art and cultural production?

It’s sort of known that the Milwaukee art scene is scarcity driven – there are never enough opportunities. And because of this scarcity, you’re going to jump at any opportunity, maybe without a criticality around it. Sometimes because it’s a necessary line on your resume. I also feel that there is never enough critical dialogue about what has been done. I think people feel like you can’t critique the do-ers in this city – that if you critique they’ll stop doing or making. On top of all that, I think that Midwestern niceness is often afraid of critique.

Speaking of do-ers, there was a lot of Milwaukee do-ers, yourself included, in the room at the Designing Equity intensive. Any takeaways from that experience?

What I really liked about the intensive, and what I realize we don’t do enough of here because we don’t value it, is iteration. Iteration is really important and that’s where critique happens. It may not happen as directly but there’s an editing process that happens during iteration.

In Milwaukee, a lot of the production is grant-based and you have to consider a timeline. Some are a full year and the projects that people take on often need longer than that to develop. Due to time and lack of resources, you never leave enough room to just sit with something. You are struggling and producing, producing and producing right up until the last minute. By the time you’re done and have time to catch your breath it’s over. Instead of having enough space to really think about what you’ve done. I don’t feel like there’s enough time and then people are off the payroll so they aren’t paid to think critically about what they did. I think the intensive has been a good model to show how valuable time is for projects to develop.

Are there any other thoughts about your visits to Los Angeles and it’s influence on your work here in Milwaukee?

One of my major takeaways was the commute. For example, from Little Tokyo to Venice Beach takes an hour and a half commute by public transportation. And Milwaukee to Chicago is an hour a half commute. This got me asking myself why can’t I just go to Chicago more? Before, I might go to Chicago once a year but after this LA visit I’ve been to Chicago four times. It made me consider scale much more.

Bronzeville Autumn in the Winter

Jazale’s Art Studio
2201 N Martin Luther King Drive, Bronzeville, Milwaukee
(Entrance on Garfield Street)

ART x MUSIC x BRONZEVILLE: Fundraiser for Jazale’s Art Studio
Wednesday, February 15

7-10pm

TICKETS $10 // For tickets Contact Vedale Hill, vedalehill@gmail.com
Ages 18+

Join us, in Bronzeville, for a night of art, performance, music, culture & community. Proceeds benefit Jazale’s, so you can support a good cause while you have a good time!

ART EXHIBITION // Vedale Hill x Mikal Floyd-Pruitt

MUSIC // Turtlesooup spins his current selection of really good music.

PERFORMANCE //  Bobby Drake, as part of the innovative #LivingRoomTour, performs Never Say Die, his one-hour show about the inner thoughts and feelings of a man torn up by his own ambitions. (This is a really unique experience so don’t miss it!)

••••••
Bronzeville Autumn is our second season of art and wellness programs for the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District which included Art House Trap. Bronzeville Autumn is an initiative of CUPED Corporation, Jazale’s Art Studio, Friends of Bronzeville and MKE<->LAX, in collaboration with the City of Milwaukee and Alderwoman Milele Coggs. This season follows the successful launch of #BronzevilleSummer that included the 4th Annual Jazz in the Hood at Garfield School Cultural Campus, the 4th Annual Bronzeville Week, 19th Annual Garfield Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Arts Festival, and Juneteenth Day Parade and Street Festival, as well as performances, exhibitions and youth arts workshops at Jazale’s Art Studio.

Through Bronzeville Autumn, we are continuing the work that has gone into bringing together culture, history, art, commerce, and community rooted in this rich urban tradition of the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District. In collaboration with many community partners, this multifaceted series focuses on art and wellness featuring performances, installations and workshops by local artists, food and crafts with local vendors, health and wellness awareness activities, and community meals. Kickstarted November 5, programs are open to the public and free, with activities for youth and adults.

Support for Bronzeville Autumn is generously provided by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation through the Marvin W. Haesle Fund for the Arts, the Patricia Ray Howell Fund, and the Martin Luther King Memorial Fund; Crescent Cardboard Co, LLC; Bader Philanthropies; and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee.