Art Show Archives

In the Balance
January through March 2017 -Riverside Park

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 - Riverside Park

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 - Riverside Park

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 - Riverside Park

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

Steel, Concrete, and Water: Forming the Industrial American City
March through May 2017 - Menomonee Valley

Artist Emmett Gross explores the relationship between human built patterns and natural forms. As he studies the industrial history of American cities, he tells a story of the physical, social, and economic forces that shape these urban forms. He hopes that his work will lead the viewer to delve into the history of cities

emmett gross resizeEmmet Gross


Jenie Gao: The Globe Weaver
June through August 2017 - Menomonee Valley

The Globe Weaver is Jenie Gao's most recent series of prints and drawings that together tell the story of what it means to be local in a globalized world. This story is told through animals in urban and rural settings, each one navigating its own complicated relationship with the world. Some thrive. Some adapt. Some struggle to survive. Some fight to make a life again, after past threats of displacement, disease, and genocide. Many assimilate. Still others enjoy impressive and precarious success, challenging the stigmas they can't ever seem to shake.

The purpose of this work is to get us to think more critically of how we judge the world around us, by making us aware of the ways in which we successfully coexist with or conflict with others. Our problems are not simple and building trust is not easy, and yet our understanding and connection with one another has the potential to be.

May the metaphors of this work help to strengthen our sense of humanity and make us more willing to do better for one another.

art by Jenie Gao
Jenie Gao
Auditioning for the Choir


Nicole Acosta: PachaMAMAS y Niñxs
September through November 2017 - Menomonee Valley

"Born and raised in Milwaukee, I have devoted my life fully as a compassionate pictoralist and my work often reflects the exploration and preservation of culture, identity, movement and oral & visual storytelling. I am inspired by travel, magical herbs and my children. I use photography as a tool to preserve my personal stories and Illustrate what I witness while navigating through motherhood, a womyn of color and as a chicana.

As a Mexica womyn with two children, I seek to understand what home means for us. I teach them to dance, to use their hands, ask questions, be kind and to spend time in nature. They often teach me to slow down, have patience, play with bugs, look for the perfect walking stick and look up to the skies. This series of work is dedicated to mothers and children who aren't afraid to dig their bare feet into the Earth; the best medicine for the soul when we lose our sense of home. My hopes for this photo project is to activate a space for mothers and their children in nature, while I document the pure exchange of love, exploration and connectedness."

Nicole Acosta


Advocacy and Sustaining Life
October through December 2016 - Riverside Park

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 - Riverside Park

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
8 x 10 inches

Close Encounters - Riverside Park

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 - Menomonee Valley

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 - Riverside Park

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

June through September 2016 - Menomonee Valley

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 - Riverside Park

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
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  - Menomonee Valley

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 - Riverside Park

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

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
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

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

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

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



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