Earth Day is nearly upon us. Each year we pause on April 22nd to think about ecology, climate change, preservation—survival. This past year, people the world over have come together around the protection of our waters, taking up the chant "Water is Life." Now as we think about the health of our planet, I invite you to consider the way we "story" water, the earth, the sky, and all the natural beings in the universe. In The Truth About Stories Indigenous writer Tom King asks, "Do the stories we tell reflect the world as it truly is, or did we simply start off with the wrong story?"
April 22nd is Earth Day, celebrated around the world as a day to protect, steward and learn about the earth. Here at the Center we're inviting everyone to help celebrate with our Earth Day of Service, a morning of pitching in with friends and neighbors at each of our three branches to show some love to our little corner of the planet - come join us!
Grab your popcorn, because once again the Urban Ecology Center is proud to be a Community Partner on two different Milwaukee Film Festival selections. Read on for a preview of what’s in store this season.
Varias veces a la semana, escucho nuevas ideas de miembros del Centro, visitantes, y de jóvenes científicos. Cada persona que participa en el Urban Ecology Center tiene experiencias, conocimiento e ideas que compartir, y una de las partes favoritas de mi trabajo es tener la oportunidad de escuchar las ideas de nuestra comunidad.
Como pueden imaginarse unos de mis eventos preferidos son los Foros Comunitarios. Los cuales son reuniones que están abiertas al público, donde la intención es brindar la oportunidad a toda la comunidad de compartir sus opiniones e ideas, y para que también nuestros empleados puedan conectar más con la comunidad y conocer sus intereses.
Several times a week, I get to hear new ideas — from members, visitors or Young Scientists. Each person who participates at the Urban Ecology Center has experiences, knowledge and ideas to share, and one of my favorite parts of my job is getting the chance to hear the ideas from our community.
As you can imagine, some of my favorite events at the Center are our Community Forums—meetings that are open to the public, whose intent is to give our whole community the opportunity to share their opinions and ideas, and for our staff to have the chance to connect with community members and listen to these opinions and ideas.
Have you ever tried to put a puzzle together without looking at the picture on the box? You spend a lot of time trying to figure out if the blue piece is sky or water. Without the seeing the whole picture you don’t understand how that piece fits in.
I was reminded of this idea during a recent conversation with a well-meaning and inquisitive young man who was trying to understand what the Center was all about. “Why on earth are you in the city?” he asked. “I mean, what kind of nature can you find there?”
For those of you who like to garden but do not have a yard of your own, we have 35 community garden plots for rent at Riverside Park and 42 raised beds for rent at Menomonee Valley in Three Bridges Park. Gardeners spend the summer gardening alongside their neighbors, lend a helping hand (or green thumb) to each other, share a potluck dinner, and grow spectacular produce!
Plots at Riverside Park measure 10 x 15 feet and are located along the Oak Leaf Trail.
Plots in the Menomonee Valley are located in Three Bridges park just a short walk from the Center and measure 4 x 8 and 4 x 10 feet.
High Risk of Cancer - Scenes from Superfund Wisconsin
C. Matthew Luther: The Superfund Project is an emergent archive of environmental pollution in Wisconsin. Many of these sites are located within inner city neighborhoods labeled as Environmental Justice areas and defined as communities with high populations of low-income, minority or tribal residents who may endure a lop-sided share of the nationʼs environmental waste and pollution problems. Milwaukeeʼs Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods are defined as Environmental Justice areas and home to two Superfund Sites along with numerous Brownfields.
C. Matthew Luther
Cranes Among Us
Ellen McGaughey: Cranes represent an ancient spiritual wildness, like their haunting bugle call that is a salve to spirit and an accelerant to creativity! In Wisconsin, cranes tell a tale of the Sandhill's emergence from near extinction in the 1930's and the Whooping Crane's perilous course of survival today.
Whooping Crane, 2015
8 x 10 inches
Adam Stoner: Stoner's work is a series of gut-driven travels through unfamiliar landscapes of the soul. Close encounters with the natural world become visual translations of human psyche, the religious impulse, and childhood memories that continue to speak with wordless emotion.
Presented by the Photo Phenology Group and Young Scientist Club of the Urban Ecology Center's Menomonee Valley branch, this photo exhibition captures the changing landscape of the Menomonee Valley.
Menomonee Valley Young Scientists Club
Eye Level, 2016
Menomonee Valley Young Scientists Club
From Below, 2016
Thomas Gaudynski: These drawings grow out of my practice of backyard gardening. Drawn with ink and brush in black on white, they explore some of the efforts of one urban gardener working with raised bed gardens acquired over years through Milwaukeeʼs Victory Garden initiative.
James Steeno: Painting with watercolor can be a challenge as water tends to move around, but that same changeable nature can lead to many great accidental visual discoveries. I love to paint local landscapes and wildlife, and enjoy hearing the stories people tell of Wisconsin. My works are on a scale similar to the nooks and crannies where stories are shared.
Untitled (domesticated in MesoAmerica), 2014
Drawing, ink on paper
18 x 24 inches
Jumping Fox, 2014
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Janelle Gramling: In my wall-hung sculptures, fiber, wood, and clay are combined in very deliberate and simple ways intended to make the viewer ponder it’s construction. Themes of ecology, balance, and interconnectedness speak through the ways in which strands of fiber weave their way though geometric forms in clay and wrap around branches of found driftwood.
Taking inspiration from studying Sacred Geometry, I explore the patterns in nature and apply significance to them by using symbolism. I chose to title this show “Symbiotic” because these works will speak in particular about the relationship between humans and the countless number of species we all share our urban spaces with.
Rachel Clark: As our population continues to expand, habitats for monarch butterflies, as well as many other organisms, begin to dwindle. An industrial park in Wauwatosa has seen major construction, deterring these butterflies from returning to a once important breeding spot. Despite efforts from locals to protect and improve habitat, the butterfly numbers are not the same as they once were. Created in response to the continuing loss of monarch butterfly habitats, this exhibit draws attention to the value of urban natural areas as sanctuaries for these beautiful butterflies.
Generation 3, 2015
Steel and plastic
Carol Schwartz: Nature inspires every creative step I make and continually surprises and astounds me. Because so many of my illustrations for picture books are science and nature related, research is essential for an accurate finished piece. My art grows richer because of what I learn and understand about my subjects.
How Strong Is an Ant, 2014
10 x 8 inches
Max Cozzi: These landscape photographs portray the beauty and wonder that the great state of Wisconsin holds within its unaltered environment. From glacial formed hills and moraines, mazes of lakes and woods, to the dynamic and ever-changing shorelines of the great lakes, the natural beauty of Wisconsin is pure and full of magnificence.
Frozen Shrub, Harrington Beach State Park, 2014
Archival Inkjet Print
16 x 20 inches
Cynthia Brinich-Langlois: The lithographic prints tell a story that begins on the tundra, with the drying up of rivers and ponds, but the series expands to include diverse habitats, and the land itself begins to disintegrate. The work depicts a journey through changing environments, with surreal geographies suggesting an unsettled future.
Ken Vonderberg: The inspiration for creating artwork with the wood burning process or “pyrography” was the notion that wood, as a raw natural material, could be transformed into images through the use of heat, an elemental force, employed in the artist’s vision.
Lithograph and hot stamping foil on gray Pescia
11 x 30 inches
Above the Falls, 2014
Pyrography & white colored pencil on birch cradled panel
18 x 24 inches
Shannon Molter: Take a closer look above and below at the unsung forest understory. Sculptures will usher visitors into the Center, growing along the floor of the entrance alcoves and hanging overhead in the main hall. Molter's fibrous representations of the forest floor aim to create a palpably mysterious, spiritual representation of this rich and misunderstood ecosystem, which begs its viewer to spend time finding beauty in the spaces under foot. Woven from discarded leather scraps cut into leaf litter, sculpted into tree stumps, roots and fallen branches.
Detail: Forest Floor
Sally Duback: In making paper from rags, re-using natural materials that have been discarded, Duback’s finished works carry a deep level of meaning.
Barbara Manger: A river’s pulse and energy, secrets and constant change,lead Manger to explore and convey tangles, apparent disorder,and the river wending its own path of necessity.
"Specimens on Green"
monoprint/handmade paper, 24" x 38"
monotype, ink, woodblock, linoleum block, 38" x 50"
Ghost Garden is a collection of memories in the form of botanical prints. Plants gathered from Vicki Reed's gardens, and from outings with her elderly patients, were used to create lumen prints - a historical technique of placing leaves and blossoms on photographic paper to produce ghost images of the original plants.
Kevin Muente's paintings make the viewer understand that we need to protect as many wild places as possible no matter how big or small. At times the window of the canvas frames and perhaps allows places that are in our own communities to rival images of the greatest national parks.
A continuing quest into being and seeing. Joyce Winter describes her paintings as a dance on paper using color, texture and space - a process that seems to connect memory and sensory impressions of our relationships with nature. Michael Kutzer paints one place, Seminary Woods, in its many moods. He is interested in how the working of your eyes, and your ability to focus at multiple distances, affects how and what you see in nature.
"This is Our Heritage"
acrylic-prisma pencil on watercolor paper, 40" x 32"
"Target 36: Forest’s Heart"
acrylic, 20" x 20"
Timothy Haglund is primarily a plein air painter. He works in nature, at night, a time that is unique and not always experienced by outdoor enthusiasts. Nature at night is a magical, mysterious time where one’s awareness of their surroundings is heightened, and one’s presence in the landscape feels noticeably alone. It is a time to come to know the land one exists within. The time, the mood, that stillness is alive in the subtleties of these painted night-scapes.
"Bats Over the River"
oil on gessoed birch plywood
Two artists pay close attention to nature’s details. Kristin Gjerdset sees the world underfoot - often overlooked, yet as deserving of reverence as grand scenery. Hers is the world of tiny shrubs and flowers, visited by winged beings and fur-bearing creatures. Jamie Bilgo Buchman notices the natural world in our everyday lives and asks questions: where do things come from? How do they work? What does this mean?
"Horicon Marsh: A Day"
Jamie Bilgo Bruchman
mixed media on wood
By invitation, twelve fine art printmakers were linked with twelve ecologists, to engage in a conversation that inspired visual representations of each ecologist’s story. Bench Press Events organized this exhibit for the World Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration to encourage further insight into the work of ecological restoration.
Featuring the work of Jonas Angelet, Douglas Bosely, Heather Buechler, Kris Broderick, Rhea Ewing, Katie Garth, Tyler Green, Laura Grossett, Kim Hindman, Niki Johnson, Yvette M. Pino, and Jay Wallace.
"Diversity in Small Parcels"
letterpress on handmade paper
"Return, Take Over"
Abstraction and intimacy, water and light connect Kurt Kleman’s dramatic large-scale acrylic paintings (“shimmer” series) and Thea Kovac’s vibrant watercolors (“Floating Light” series). You might become mesmerized by our rivers and Lake Michigan all over again. In delightful and engaging counterpoint are bird carvings by Tom Petri.
Sara Daleiden, director of MKE <-> LAX will be on hand to host the event as well as moderate the question & answer session with the artists.
"18" Shimmer Series
Floating Light Series
watercolor on paper
I have seen many changes at the Urban Ecology Center at Washington Park since I started working here in March of 2012. When I began we operated out of only one-third of the building and were just dreaming of all the programs, rental space and activities we provide if we could use the whole building. Thanks to a lot of hard work and an amazing partnership with the Milwaukee County Parks Department, we now lease the entire building. That one change led to a whole series of other positive changes.
Despite my bias, I can honestly say that the Urban Ecology Center puts together a summer camp experience that even the most pristine and remote wilderness camp could never provide. One consistent comment parents and kids say about our summer camps is that we always do something fun and different every day in ways that showcase our great city.
Milwaukee is a vibrant urban landscape with many gems waiting to be uncovered and part of our summer camp experience is to uncover those gems. We still provide a healthy dose of outdoor exploration, of course, but I think we offer aspects that might surprise you. They are an incredible mix of fun, fascination, adventure, exploration and opportunity.