Displaying items by tag: Menomonee Valley
Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

Art in the Menomonee Valley

UEC Photo Club - The Colors of Nature

March-May 2023 

Opening Reception: March 10th, 5-7 p.m.


The Urban Ecology Center Photo Club is thrilled to share some of our photographs with the community. The natural world is full of beautiful sights, but capturing them on camera is not so easy. Our club members will share some of their captures. These will include plants, flowers, landscapes, birds, wildlife, and close-ups of natural scenes and textures. Our club consists of a group of photo-oriented people who enjoy viewing, discussing, and improving their photography skills. Our interests are not only nature but also a wide variety of subjects. We support each other in our quest to become better photographers. Our group consists of people just getting started in photography to those who have been photographing for most of their life. We meet on the first Thursday of every month.


Through Our Eyes - a UEC Showcase: Bre Legan, Jeff Veglahn, Julee Mitchell, & Katie Willmering

December 2022-February 2023 

Opening Reception: December 9th, 4-6 p.m.

A collection of artwork, through many perspectives, of what we see in nature. Our perspective is expressed through illustrations, weavings, and acrylic paintings. Nature isn’t only found in vast spaces across the country, but also locally in our own neighborhoods. We hope that our exhibit will inspire and encourage you to see nature from a new perspective.

Jeff Veglahn

Jeff Veglahn is the Land Steward at Urban Ecology Center’s Menomonee Valley Branch. Growing up, he was always encouraged to draw and sketch in his free time and he continued that trend as an adult. As Land Steward, Jeff manages the day-to-day management of Three Bridges Park and monitors what plants are established in the native plant communities. Historically speaking, Wisconsin was a landscape of prairies found in Southwest Wisconsin, the Driftless Region, to conifer forests in Northern Wisconsin. In all, Wisconsin has more than 70 unique plant communities, each composed of beautiful grasses and wildflowers integral to the landscape. 


American Bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum) by Jeff Veglahn

In 2018, Jeff started to sketch native plants, indigenous to Southeast Wisconsin’s prairies, found in Three Bridges Park. As you walk through Three Bridges Park, you’ll find more than 60 plants native to the area. As the seasons' change, so does the hue of the blooms from whites, to blues, to yellows. Jeff’s artwork, ink on paper, represents a small fraction of what can be found as you walk through the park during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. He hopes that his artwork encourages people to stop and look closely at the plants and flowers around them; that people don’t just walk through Three Bridges Park, but take in the beauty that surrounds them. “Anyone can love the mountains but it takes a soul to love the prairie” - Willa Cather.

Julee Mitchell

In Julee's words: "In 2019 my father and mother-in-law were in the process of becoming snowbirds, moving from Milwaukee to Florida, as many retired Wisconsinites do to escape the long Midwest winters. I was given many wonderful things during their transition to include, from my artist mother-in-law, a large number of acrylic paints. I’ve always enjoyed painting but my paint sets had been quite basic and so I limited myself to a few small canvases, carefully planning each brush stroke and conserving the few tubes of paint I had so I could be ready to paint again when inspiration struck me. After acquiring this bountiful supply of paint, I found myself happily exploring and experimenting with ideas that I hadn’t entertained before. One night as I was indulging myself in acrylics, I looked over to the trash can and saw bubble wrap and other non-recyclable materials. Suddenly I was inspired to re-use these discarded items one more time. They became the tools I used to create the backgrounds of my paintings. Once this was accomplished, I looked at the effects these materials made and the colors I had chosen to decide the subject of this series. The images of landscapes popped into my head, places I’ve been to in the past, many of which were camping experiences from my childhood. I was very lucky growing up to have had the opportunity to spend much time out in nature. Those experiences gave me a great appreciation for the natural world which continues to fill me with awe and wonder today. Although very abstract in nature, I believe each painting conveys a feeling of what it was like to be there in that moment".


One Night by Julee Mitchell

Katie Willmering

Katie Willmering is a Milwaukee-based Illustrator and Graphic Designer. Her work is created mainly in Procreate and Adobe Illustrator. At UW-Milwaukee, Katie received her Bachelor of Arts in Design Studies and studied at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy where she focused on art history and film photography. 

Katie’s artwork evokes the imagination and creates a connection between humans and nature. Growing up camping and always being encouraged to enjoy the outdoors, sculpted Katie’s love for adventure and finding beauty in the little things. She finds it so mesmerizing to study all the details of a leaf or flower and then portray that in a piece of art. Illustration allows her to stop and appreciate the little yet complex details nature beholds. Katie believes art bridges ideas between people’s minds, allowing us to show the worlds that exist in our heads, and that’s what she loves most about illustration. 

Katie art

Among the Wildflowers by Katie Willmering

Bre Legan

Bre Legan (they/she) is a multimedia storyteller and dreamer living and loving out of Milwaukee, WI, though they are pleased to have roots in many places. A graduate student in Communication and Digital Media at Marquette University, Bre holds degrees in art and writing from Drury University and Santa Reparata International School of Art. When they aren’t busy studying the intersections of art and social justice through the Trinity Fellows Program or creating community poetry projects through the Milwaukee Emerging Poet Fellowship, you will likely find them fiddling with an ancient typewriter, organizing with Midcoast Artist Collective, and exploring this beautiful world.

Bre’s work draws heavily from their surroundings, both in materials and ideas. Much of their supplies are naturally harvested from the beaches of the Pacific Northwest and the fields and forests of the Midwest, where overcast days and intensely vibrant wildflowers inspire creative choices. The ephemerality of natural materials in Bre’s work highlights their desire to explore the passage of time and the interconnectedness of the world we inhabit. 

For more of Bre’s work, hop on over to brelegan.com 

Untitled design 2

Left: Copper Driftwood, Bre Legan; Right: Midwest Sunset, Bre Legan

Rozalia Hernandez-Singh

I am me because of them — My journey of self-discovery through my ancestors

September - November 2022

Opening Reception: September 9th, 5-7 p.m.

For her entire life, Rozalia Hernandez-Singh has always struggled with finding her self-identity. Rozalia has always felt that American history books did not include people that look like her. Her ancestral story was discarded and is one that needed to be told. After starting a family of her own, it became even more important for her to know who she was. Believing a lot of the traits that we have inherited from our family even the ones that we’ve never met, led her on a journey to finding herself and her family. She began taking trips through the United States tracing the footsteps of her ancestors and seeing the communities and homes that they lived in.

Rozalia Hernandez Mississippi Magnolias

Mississippi Magnolias by Rozalia Hernandez-Singh

Rozalia has made a thorough investigation of her ancestry, including finding lost ancestors, connecting with other historians, and attempting to piece together her family tree. Rozalia’s background includes Native American, Puerto Rician, African American, and Mexican ancestry. Her family has been separated through migration and difficult circumstances. Rozalia’s husband is from India which becomes part of her children's ancestry. Rozalia encourages everyone to research their family history and write and tell their own American story.

Now after many years (as well as countless days and sleepless nights) of research she wants to share the stories of her ancestors with you through this exhibit. Rozalia’s hope for this exhibit is to give a voice to her ancestors that had none and to challenge the never-ending attempt to erase and silence people of color. Rozalia chooses to share her story through vibrant visual paintings of portraiture that explore intense feelings and understandings of her research.

Shelly Rosenquist - Eco Stars 

July - September 2022

Opening Reception: July 22nd, 5-7 pm 

2020 AmarylisMiAmorShelly Rosenquist says, “My subject matter ranges from what influences me in our world, but I tend to take much of my inspiration from nature and the organic. I believe that in our hectic human existence, we have strayed from what makes this world a beautiful place. I like to use my work as a tool to remind people to look around them, to breathe the air, to appreciate the detail and miracles of nature. I express myself by taking the neglected and twisting it into something unique that cannot be ignored. 

I call this show 'Eco Stars,' because these paintings and their subject matter deserve their moment to shine.”

 Jolie Collins

June-July 2022

Cool and Calm001Playful Palette II: Colorful Experiments in Abstract is a fun and bold series of works inspired by nature and created by Jolie Collins. Lively and vibrant acrylic paintings, along with subdued pieces created by applying sheer black layers beneath the colors, and mixed media works, made with various textured materials & image transfers, make up the display.  Milwaukee area artist, Jolie paints nonrepresentational abstracts in energetic colors and paints mixed media pieces that combine imagery, words, sand, texture, decorative papers and/or objects.  Drawing and painting what catches her fancy, a variety of subjects have inspired and influenced her art, including dancers, flowers, animals, fruit, non-representational abstracts, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, scripture, photography, comics, and printmaking.  Recently, Jolie began exploring how to express a wider breadth of emotion and personal stories in her work.  Believing that a happy heart makes the face cheerful, Jolie hopes that the works she creates bring joy to the soul by giving people a “musical hug” or more appropriately an artistic hug.  No matter the subject matter, she wants her art to be uplifting and to impact people positively.

Brianna Seipel & Hannah Ribbens

March-May 2022 

brianna siepel

Brianna Seipel

As an avid hiker, Brianna Joy Seipel believes in the power of wild spaces to heal, inspire and transform. Inspired by backpacking trips with her husband, Joel, her vibrant oil paintings reveal the expansive beauty of national parks, forests, and wilderness areas. Her work invites us to consider landscapes as “places of refuge” and time outdoors as restorative care for the spirit, mind, and body.





Hannah Ribbens

hannah ribbensHannah P Ribbens’s work draws inspiration from her years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small Ecuadorian fishing village where she spent most of her time by the ocean and where she learned to see the world with a renewed sense of wonder. Her work seeks to share the awe and joy she experienced living by the ocean and now as a mother, the wonder she observes in her young children as they explore, experience, and learn to love the natural world around them. Her paintings are colorful and cross freely between the real and the imaginary.


Saturday, 16 January 2016 00:00

Hide and Seek

It was 5pm on a late fall, Friday evening and I was enjoying a cup of hot chocolate at the Menomonee Valley branch’s reception desk. A group of our regular youth visitors were running around the building as it was too dark outside to explore Three Bridges Park and they were having too much fun to go home. It was a quiet evening, perfect for kids to just hang out and be themselves in our safe community center. I couldn’t see anybody around, but I could hear little feet moving fast.

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.

Students can be scientists? It's true! In another story of "impossibles made possible" by your support of the Urban Ecology Center, we're taking at look at our Young Scientists Club and their participation in the University of Minnesota's Driven to Discover program!

Sunday, 01 November 2015 01:00

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!

Thursday, 29 October 2015 01:00

You DO Live Here

This time of year always gets me thinking about gratitude (I probably say that every November). This year, I want to share a story that perfectly captured for me why I’m so grateful to be a part of this work, and why I’m grateful for the support of so many people that make this work possible.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to teach a 3rd grade Neighborhood Environmental Education Project class at our Menomonee Valley branch. It was a glorious late spring day—sunny with just that faintest taste of summer coming around the corner.

“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.”

Monday, 26 October 2015 01:00

Do the Extra-ordinary!

Do you remember those little gift books you used to give as a kid? You’d spend hours, carefully creating hand-made “coupons” for someone special. The promise was to take an ordinary experience and add a little extra. One might say you’d do the dishes without complaining. Another would say you’d give your parents a hug or plan a movie night. They were fun to make and even more fun when redeemed ... well, except for the chores, but even those would change ordinary activities into extraordinary experiences as grownups would often join in to help.

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 00:00

See For Yourself - Summer Camps!

Spending time outdoors, actively engaging with nature is what our Summer Camps are all about!

Our campers explore the secrets of nature by looking under logs, hiking in the woods, climbing trees, building forts, creating art projects, taking pictures and more with kids from all over the city. They’re building science and engineering skills to be better prepared for school year.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 00:00

Outdoor Awesomeness

Being outside is awesome because there is something for everyone. This was perfectly illustrated on a camping adventure with the Menomonee Valley Young Scientists Club this past summer. We packed two buses full of tents, sleeping bags, food and ourselves and drove up to Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary for our first Young Scientists and parents camping trip. Camping was a new experience for many, so we planned to do the basics like preparing dinner over a fire, telling stories and exploring the woods at night. But perhaps the best parts of the whole trip were the things that had not been planned.


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