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


TICKETS $10 // For tickets Contact Vedale Hill,
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.

Day 2 Day
Jazale’s Art Studio – 2201 N Dr Martin Luther King Drive, entrance on Garfield Ave.
January 28th, 2016, 3 – 6 PM

Day 2 Day will feature student artwork that reflect the “day to day” their life experiences. Students explore topics ranging from safety, bullying, the educational system, and food deserts. All artwork will be available for $20 each and will go directly to the artists.

#BronzevilleSummer: Our Milwaukee Experience is an inaugural series in the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District presented by Friends of Bronzeville in collaboration with City of Milwaukee, Ald. Milele Coggs, Jazale’s Art Studio, CUPED Corporation, and MKE<->LAX. As a way to connect large community events already happening in the district (Juneteenth, Garfield Days Festival, Jazz in the Hood, Jazale’s Art Studio Youth Programs and Cultural Events, and Bronzeville Week), #BronzevilleSummer is the umbrella that brings it all together under a unified vision. This public program series will celebrate African-American culture by focusing on local creative entrepreneurial talent with art performances and installations, markets for youth and adults including a business summit, and health, wellness and housing resources.
In connection with our #BronzevilleSummer and in honor of African American Bone Marrow Awareness month, we welcome having you shake it with us soon…

4th Annual Jazz in the Hood

Friday, July 8th from 4-9pm
Performances by Evan Christian, Sistah Strings, Foreign Goods and Kevin Hayden Band
Outside the Garfield Avenue Elementary School
4th Street between North and Garfield

Bring your chairs and blankets. Co-create a communal art piece with Jazale’s Art Studio. Join the entertainment, family and fun!

#BronzevilleSummer continues!! Jazale’s Art Studio and MKE<->LAX are excited to present…


A performance by Katie Loughmiller
Saturday, June 25th at 7pm

2201 N Dr MLK Drive

Milwaukee, WI 53212

perception. by Boston-based artist, Katie Loughmiller, explores 21st century notions of identity, origin, and labelling. It is a performance in three parts exploring how we perceive others and ourselves in terms of the racial/ethnic “boxes” that have been created over time.

To date, perception. has been performed twice. First at Little House Gallery in Los Angeles, CA and at Gwarlingo Salon in conjunction with 24 Blackbird in Harrisville, NH. It is scheduled to be performed in New York City at Hot Wood Arts Center in Red Hook, Brooklyn in July.


perception. will begin promptly at 7:00pm and runs about 30 minutes long. An informal dialogue will follow immediately after.


Katie Loughmiller is an interdisciplinary artist exploring storytelling through performance, writing and video. Loughmiller is particularly interested in conversational dialogue and stories centered around cultural complexity and female identity. Loughmiller received her undergraduate degree at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University and completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in the Public Practice program at Otis College of Art & Design. Loughmiller and her participatory performance piece, “Perform With Me” was featured on Ear Meal, a live streaming and archived webcast platform based in Los Angeles. Loughmiller has performed her most current performance piece perception. in Los Angeles, New Hampshire and will soon perform it in Milwaukee and New York City. Loughmiller has been an artist in residence at Atlantic Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Wildacres Residency Program and is currently an artist in residence at MKE<->LAX. 
#BronzevilleSummer: Our Milwaukee Experience is an inaugural series in the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District presented by Friends of Bronzeville in collaboration with City of Milwaukee, Jazale’s Art Studio, CUPED Corporation, and MKE<->LAX. Programs will be open to the public and will be free or low cost. As a way to connect large community events already happening in the district (Juneteenth, Garfield Days Festival, Jazz in the Hood, Jazale’s Art Studio Youth Programs and Cultural Events, and Bronzeville Week), #BronzevilleSummer is the umbrella that brings it all together under a unified vision. This public program series will celebrate African-American culture by focusing on local creative entrepreneurial talent with art performances and installations, markets for youth and adults including a business summit, and health, wellness and housing resources.
June 19, 9:00am – 5:00pm: Juneteenth Day Parade and Street Festival
June 25, 7:00pm-9:00pm: perception. Performance by Katie Loughmiller at Jazale’s Art Studio
July 8, 3:30pm – 9:00pm: 4th Annual Jazz in the Hood at Garfield School Cultural Campus featuring Kevin Hayden Band, Evan Christian, and other local artists supporting Bone Marrow and Blood Donation Awareness
July 16, 12:00pm – 8:00pm: 19th Annual Garfield Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Arts Festival Booth and Workshop

August 6-13: 4th Annual Bronzeville Week with the Arts and Cultural Festival on August 6th, 10:00am – 6:00pm

and more! 
Please see attached press release.


I encourage you to walk Historic Mitchell Street this Saturday, June 18 starting at dusk for Temporary Resurfacing. Many artists who have engaged with MKE<->LAX residencies and programs are participating in this amazing outdoor multi-video projection event, including currently Los Angeles-based, formerly Milwaukee-based Mark Escribano, one of my dear core collaborators.