A postmodern Gallery Night at Safi StudiosApril 13th, 2011 |
Sunday, April 10. Milwaukee soars to 85 degrees! On this unseasonably warm day, I’m in the cool lower level of the Marshall Building watching artist/musician/filmmaker Scott Johnson do a test run on his video Walkthrough, set to debut at Safi Studios this weekend during Gallery Night & Day. The images pour forth, projected on a screen set up outside of the gallery.
Johnson chats about the 5 ½ minute film culled from an hour-and-a-half summertime stroll around Riverwest. Composed of images of trees, telephone wires, and quick glimpses of a Victorian-style house, it’s set to sounds assembled by fellow artists. To my ears, the screeches, hums, and thrums are not unlike those made by clouds of cicadas. The images are muted in hues caught between browns, grays and almost yellows. He tells me he tried various colors, including pink, which (thankfully) he decided against.
The screen dances with pixels, the total effect being that of energy unbound, as if Riverwest is “in process,” abuzz with change. Go to thethickair.com for more about Johnson’s diverse projects.
Safi is, dare I say, the best gallery of postmodern art in Milwaukee, the white walls hung with the latest from co-owners Jane Gates, Thomas Kovacich and Dianne Soffa. The space is snug, but every inch intrigues, none more so than Emerald City Surplus, a terrific Soffa encaustic suggesting a green landscape set beneath a slender slash of pink sky. Painted on a piece of scrap wood hung horizontally, it’s perfectly detailed.
Jane Gates’ new wildly painted canvasses reveal her heart in every loop, swirl, twirl and whirl.
New, hi-gloss squares in riotous Kovacich colors are knock-outs, particularly the geranium red pair on the east wall. Having just finished reading an article about Christian Louboutin’s shoes in the March 28 issue of the New Yorker, I admit I compared Kovacich’s red squares to the Louboutin red which defines the soles of shoes to die for.
Johnson will be at the Safi opening on Friday, briefly that is, before racing to the Milwaukee Art Museum where he’ll perform at 8:30 p.m. (Lubar Gallery) with 1913, a chamber rock group.
Safi is to be congratulated for sharing their smarts with young local talent, like Denise Schanz. Tucked in a corner, I noticed her charming wall piece– part sculpture, part painting. It speaks quietly about the inner ear, abstractly so, as if to say “these walls have ears.”
Can you hear me Ms. Schanz? I say “go for it.”
Scott Johnson’s Walkthrough debuts on Gallery Night, April 15 (5-9 p.m.) at Safi Studios along with new work by Safi artists-in-residence and sculpture by Denise Schanz. Safi Studios is located in the Marshall Building, 207 E. Buffalo St., suite LL8. For more information, click here.