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As our art exhibits enter their tenth year, Sally Duback, one of the founding members of our arts committee offers this reflection about the beginning and growth of the program.

Ten years ago, UEC board member Danni Gendelman convinced the board that it would be a good idea to host nature-related art exhibitions in the community room. In order to make this happen, she pulled together a small committee of Milwaukee area artists/arts professionals Barbara Manger, Sally Duback and Leon Travanti; and discussions began among them about how this could work.

It was the best “wild ice” for skating that I have found in years. A vast expanse of smooth-as-glass clear ice made not by a Zamboni, but by Mother Nature herself. And perhaps the biggest surprise of all? This “secret gem” wasn’t some hidden lake up state, but it was right here, in the shadow of the US Bank building downtown. I’ve been here over 20 years now and I still keep finding the unexpected. This is why I LOVE living in Milwaukee.

Our habitat restoration efforts and research projects really go hand-in-hand. As we restore the land, we discover more and more mammals, birds, insects and amphibians using our parks. Our studies also help to determine the number of native plant species we’ve added that have “taken root” and are continuing to grow. Here are just a few highlights you can find.

Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

Art at Riverside Park

In the Balance
January through March 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 12th, 2017 | 5 - 7 pm

Jean Dexter Sobon's exhibition reflects on the disconnect existing between our own species and the larger part of the natural world that sustains us. Each is a visual metaphor with a story, question or lesson. Some are based in history or myth. Others are Sobon's imaginative musings.

Art by Jean D Sobon
Jean Dexter Sobon
Feast, 2010
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches

Art by Jean D Sobon
Jean Dexter Sobon
Navigating the Night, 2015
Mixed media on wrapped canvas
24 x 30 inches

 


A Walk in the Woods and Mostly Milwaukee Mushrooms
April through June 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 13th, 2017 | 5 - 7 pm

Three local artists, who can be found exploring the natural areas of Riverside Park and the Urban Ecology Center, share their walks in the woods, observations, sightings and wild foraging.

Daniel Stauff and Bridget Wolf: A Walk in the Woods Illustrating years of painting and hiking along the Milwaukee River and its natural environs as well as the rest of Wisconsin.

Tonia Kountz: Mostly Milwaukee Mushrooms Coming from a family whose foraging included wild mushrooms, it seemed natural to want to draw them. Most of the mushrooms drawn were picked in Milwaukee, posed for their picture on the artist’s kitchen table and sometimes ended up as the evening meal.

Daniel Stauff resize
Daniel Stauff

Bridget Wolf resize
Bridget Wolf

Tonia Kountz resizeTonia Kountz

 


Waves, Impressions, Traces
July through September 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 13th, 2017 | 5 - 7 pm

Sarah Eichhorn Allowing nature to take its course, Sarah’s handwoven shibori tapestries showcase organic patterns and textures that are reminiscent of ripples in a pond, clouds in the sky, or shadows at sunset. Each weaving is naturally dyed and connects us to familiar memories of the outdoors.

Laura Priebe Laura grew up with  nearby woods and water that were alive with friends. Her sculpture and drawings fulfill a quest to protect the freedom within this land, within this water, for all life. Her artwork is a language constructing abstract sensualities and realistic representation of natural forms and elements, teaching love and respect for the needed assurances all living things on earth require. To this day, all life on earth depends on water. History of the Silurian period, when this area was completely covered in water, has added for her another adventure into the water critters living then, based on fossils.

Sarah Eichhorn
Sarah Eichhorn

Sarah Eichhorn detail
Sarah Eichhorn

Laura Priebe 1 resize
Laura Priebe

Laura Priebe 2 resize
Laura Priebe

 


Tula Erskine's Mushrooms
October through December 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 12th, 2017 | 5 - 7 pm

The Milwaukee artist Gertrude Kundman Erskine, known as Tula, was a long-time resident of the nearby Cambridge Woods neighborhood, a participant in the vegetarian potlucks at the Urban Ecology Center, and a friend of Else Ankel and Lorrie Otto. Tula’s connection to the Urban Ecology Center is documented here.

In this show we honor Tula the naturalist, the artist, the mycologist and community scientist, together – each skill enhanced by the others. Included will be more than forty exquisite mushroom illustrations meant for a never-published book to be called Mushrooms of North America. Tula’s tools for examining plants, other paintings, drawings, spore prints, rubbings, and slides will complete the exhibit. We hope to have a small book about Tula and the role of community science available for the show, as well as art prints of some of her mushroom illustrations, to support the Urban Ecology Center’s programs.

"Tula was an honorary curator in the Botany Department at the Milwaukee Public Museum. I knew her both as an excellent mycologist and for her love and knowledge of our native flora. I remember going in the field with her. With knife hanging at her side, corncob pipe smoking away, and collecting basket on her arm, we climbed the hills of the Kettle Moraine looking for mushrooms. It was on one of those forays that I found my first morel. Tula’s curiosity about nature and artistic talent along with her eccentricities made her a delightful person to be with."

- Neil T. Luebke

Tula Erskine 1 resize
Tula Erskine

Tula Erskine 2 resize
Tula Erskine

 


Reflecting Stories All Around Us
January through March 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 11th, 2018 | 5 - 7 pm

Pete Railand Born in Milwaukee, raised in the north woods of Wisconsin, Pete returned to Milwaukee. His artistic practice is based on the belief that the transformative power of personal expression in concert with collective action has great potential to transform society. He is a founding member of the Justseeds Artists' Cooperative. Justseeds is a decentralized community of artists who together create and sell prints, blog, build art installations, curate shows, publish books and portfolios, and contribute graphics to grassroots struggles for social and environmental justice, all while offering each other support as allies and friends. His practice begins in the world of traditional printmaking, often utilizing the relief printing medium to address environmental and social justice themes.

Leann Wooten Leann works with ceramic, glass, and an array of contemporary materials to create imagery and environments that make an impact. She worked with sixty neighborhood kids to create the large mosaic at the Urban Ecology Center Menomonee Valley branch. Leann has served as lead artist for many organizations including Arts @ Large, Artists Working in Education (AWE), and Redline. Formerly a painter, in love with texture, she began adding objects to my canvases. Now working in mosaic art, she does the reverse, sometimes adding a little paint to her mosaics. She works intuitively, so the process is never too preplanned. She builds dimension with a broad variety of materials, and many times a found object is the first thing that triggers the whole created process, exploring the world around her and recycling it into something new and unexpected.

Pete Railand resize
Pete Railand

Pete Railand 2 resize
Pete Railand

Leann Wooten 1 resize
Leann Wooten

Leann Wooten 2 resize
Leann Wooten

 


Love of the Ancients
April through June 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 12th, 2018 | 5 - 7 pm

Geri Schrab The focus of her artwork is the study of petroglyphs and pictographs, images pecked, carved and painted on rock surfaces by the ancient indigenous people of North America. These original "rock art" images may not have been considered art at the time, but recordings of the stories, journeys, hunts and visions; in essence, the history of the original people. As those of us not indigenous have adopted this land, it is important to listen to this history and learn.

Geri’s creative process is to personally visit these ancient sacred sites, photograph or sketch on site; from these research materials she creates paintings in studio. Her paintings go directly from heart to brush to paper, with the rock art and nature as guides. It is her intention through this work to share her love of the ancients, the beauty of nature and this gentle healing energy with others. Geri will also be signing copies of her book Hidden Thunder: Rock Art of the Upper Midwest, co-authored with archaeologist Robert Boszhardt and published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

April2018 Geri Schrab 2 EDIT
Geri Schrab

April2018 Geri Schrab 1 EDIT
Geri Schrab

Sunday, 03 January 2016 00:00

Art Show Archives

Advocacy and Sustaining Life
October through December 2016

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.

Art by C. Matt Luther
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.

Watercolor by Ellen McGaughey
Ellen McGaughey
Whooping Crane, 2015
Watercolor
8 x 10 inches

Close Encounters

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.

Art by Adam Stoner
Adam Stoner


Visions of the Valley
October through December 2016

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.

visions of the valley point of view eye level YSC
Menomonee Valley Young Scientists Club
Eye Level, 2016
Digital print

visions of the valley point of view from below YSC
Menomonee Valley Young Scientists Club
From Below, 2016
Digital print

sandpiper Lainet Garcia Rivera
Lainet Garcia-Rivera
Sandpiper, 2016
Digital print


Discovered While Paying Attention
July through September 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.

Art by Thomas Gaudynski
Thomas Gaudynski
Untitled (domesticated in MesoAmerica), 2014
Drawing, ink on paper
18 x 24 inches

Painting by James Steeno
James Steeno
Jumping Fox, 2014
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches


Symbiotic
June through September 2016

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.

Hanging Sclupture by Janelle Gramling


Generation 3 (a special sculptural installation)
April through June 2016

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.

Art by Rachel Clark
Rachel Clark
Generation 3, 2015
Steel and plastic


Delight and Wonder
April through June 2016

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.

Painting by Carol Schwartz
Carol Schwartz
How Strong Is an Ant, 2014
Gouache
10 x 8 inches


The Wisconsin Natural
February through May 2016

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.

Art by Max Cozzi
Max Cozzi
Frozen Shrub, Harrington Beach State Park, 2014
Archival Inkjet Print
16 x 20 inches


Wood and Stone
January through March 2016

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.

cynthia brinich langlois
Cynthia Brinich-Langlois
Underworld, 2014
Lithograph and hot stamping foil on gray Pescia
11 x 30 inches

Art by Ken Vonderberg
Ken Vonderberg
Above the Falls, 2014
Pyrography & white colored pencil on birch cradled panel
18 x 24 inches


Forest Floor
(A special sculpture exhibit)
Through March 2016

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.

Forest Floor by Shannon Molter
Shannon Molter
Detail: Forest Floor


The Nature of Prints
October through December 2015

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.

Monoprint by Sally Duback
"Specimens on Green"
Sally Duback
monoprint/handmade paper, 24" x 38"

Monotype print by Barbara Manger
"River's Path"
Barbara Manger
monotype, ink, woodblock, linoleum block, 38" x 50"


Ghost Garden
July through September 2015

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.

Art by Vicki Reed


Sacred Places
April through June 2015

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.

Painting by Kevin Muente


Being/Seeing
January through March 2015

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.

1-2015 Joyce Winter
"This is Our Heritage"
Joyce Winter
acrylic-prisma pencil on watercolor paper, 40" x 32"

acrylic by Michael Kutzer
"Target 36: Forest’s Heart"
Michael Kutzer
acrylic, 20" x 20"


The Mysterious, Magical World of Nature at Night
October through December 2014

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.

Oil on plywood by Timothy Haglund
"Bats Over the River"
Timothy Haglund
oil on gessoed birch plywood


Intimate Nature
July through September 2014

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?

Art by Kristin Gjerdset
"Horicon Marsh: A Day"
Kristin Gjerdset

7-2014 Jamie Bilgo Bruchman
"Veining"
Jamie Bilgo Bruchman
mixed media on wood


Visual Reflections: Printmaker Collective
April through June 2014

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.

Print by Heather Buechler
"Diversity in Small Parcels"
Heather Buechler
letterpress on handmade paper

Print by Katie Garth
"Return, Take Over"
Katie Garth
serigraph


Water and Light
January through March 2014

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" painting by Kurt Kleman
"18" Shimmer Series
Kurt Kleman
acrylic

Watercololr by Thea Kovac
Floating Light Series
Thea Kovac
watercolor on paper

Carving by Tom Petri
Black-capped Chickadee
Tom Petri
wood carving

 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015 00:00

The Intersection of Ecology and Art

“I realized I truly wanted to study ecology – a seed that was planted during my time at [the Urban Ecology Center] but took a few years to sprout.”

This is the opening line of an email from a former High School Outdoor Leader, Robby Friedlen, to Riverside Park Branch Manager, Jamie Ferschinger. He was eager to share the reason behind his decision to shift his research studies to “the intersection of ecology – through the lens of permaculture – and the arts.” As a High School Outdoor Leader in 2009, Robby spent a portion of his summer working with internationally known artist Roy Staab.

Sometimes making the impossible possible just takes a little confidence and ingenuity. Just ask the class of students with visual impairments who spent time exploring Riverside Park and the lakefront with Urban Ecology Center Educators Matt Flower and Regina Miller.

While learning about nature and the environment, all of the students who participate in the Urban Ecology Center's school programs are expected to participate in every way regardless of ability. It's the Center's mission to connect people to nature in part because of the fresh perspective getting outside can provide. In the case of these students, they knew deep down that "Mr. Flower and Ms. Regina" believed that they could do anything and should try everything.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 00:00

Welcome Home: Jordan's Impossible Made Possible

Skipping school, dodging the Riverside Park branch manager and free snacks leads to a home away from home…the perfect recipe for an “Impossible made Possible” at the Urban Ecology Center!

Jordan first came to the Urban Ecology Center in middle school on a Neighborhood Environmental Education Project fieldtrip. He remembers Mr. Flower coming and picking up his class in the busses and how cool it seemed to hang out in the woods. When he became a 9th grader at Riverside University High School, he realized that the Center’s Riverside Park branch was right across the field from his new school. He could come and visit afterschool!

Sunday, 01 November 2015 00:00

Welcome to Our New Staff

We’ve seen quite a bit of transition over the past couple of months and we’d like to introduce you to some of our fantastic new staff members!

In no particular order, here are the staff who have been newly hired or recently promoted to a new role:

Amy LaMacchia is our new Donor Relations Manager. Lianna Bishop was promoted to the new role of Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager. Brittany Peters was promoted to Membership and Development Systems Coordinator. Chris Steinkamp is our new Evaluation Coordinator but don’t worry, he will continue his half-time Volunteer Coordinator role at Menomonee Valley as he adds this new half-time role. Shameka Tyler is now the full-time Human Resources Specialist. Kirsten Maier is a full-time Environmental Educator at Riverside Park. Emily Bablitch is a new full-time Environmental Educator at Washington Park. Jaime Cano is the new Visitor Services Specialist at the Menomonee Valley. Davita Flowers-Shanklin has two new roles. She is the Volunteer Coordinator at Washington Park as well as our Development Specialist. Martha Sudermann is joining us this year as our Lutheran Volunteer Corps intern, serving as a Community Program Educator. Francis Sullivan is our new Community Program Assistant. Alex LaBonte joins us an Environmental Educator working at both Riverside Park and Washington Park.

Last, but not least, we are pleased to announce that the Urban Ecology Center has two new directors! Jen (Feltz) Hense is our Director of Development and Jeff McAvoy is our Director of Marketing and Communications. These two fantastic individuals have joined our Leadership Team and are helping to make key decisions that will shape the future of the Urban Ecology Center. Click here to learn more about these new Directors.

With a larger leadership team, a full staff of brilliant and enthusiastic individuals, and thousands of dedicated and inspiring volunteers, we are well poised for future success!

“An oasis in a city to learn about nature and teach kids about nature.”

This is what one community forum participant said about our Menomonee Valley branch when asked how he would describe the Urban Ecology Center to a friend. Another said “It is a place to have fun and laugh.” And when asked about challenges we can help address in the neighborhood, we heard that we should continue to “increase safety along the bike path,” provide more “options for kids in the neighborhood,” and perhaps add programs to help address “balanced nutrition … Kids eat unhealthy foods.”

Upcoming Events

Event Listings

Volunteer Papermaking

Riverside Park

Monday, December 11th

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

More Details...

Nature Rangers: Monday Series

Riverside Park

Monday, December 11th

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

More Details...

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