Places can reveal kinship in their missions, influences and subtle importance.

How Dear Was my Venue

by Gary John Gresl

Prestige! Recognition! The Elite! The Anointed! The Chosen! Exhibiting at the “best place” in order to gain the most exposure to the right people, the critics, the elite, the exclusive...the prominent and influential, and the potential money spenders.
In Wisconsin such places would likely include the most high profile venues which have the potential to gain most exposure, the largest public and the prominent media. These venues would include the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Madison Museum
of Contemporary Art, The Museum of Wisconsin Art, The Haggerty, The Racine Art Museum, The Kohler Art Museum, and on to other cities with fine art museums... Manitowoc, Green Bay, Appleton, Beloit, Kenosha, Wausau; and I apologize for overlooking others which are important to their regional artists and audience.
But...each of us has a “product” that can be directed to persons and places other than those mentioned. Sometimes such places can reveal kinship in their missions, influences and subtle importance.
Why has graffiti/street art become so notable and influential? Why does tattoo art repeatedly surface as subject for exhibits? Why do birds dominate annually in Wausau...a show that travels extensively? Why do themed exhibits repeatedly manifest depending on the place, its history and local interests? Let us not ignore sometimes underrated art including flower arrangement, stage design, calligraphy, naïve, folk and primitive art including objects from wide ranging countries and cultures. (Consider the effects/influences that once denigrated or unfamiliar exotic works of art from both within and outside our regional and national areas have had on us and art history)
I have recently had an exhibit in the
Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park, Milwaukee, not among the most highly recognized or greatly respected venues. I sought a show there because of the interests of the people who attend and support that venue and its mission. My work relates
to Nature, objects, personal evolution and the effects of the human presence on Earth. Despite the fact that the UEC has a gallery which shares duty as a community meeting room, a classroom and multi tasks for other activities, this site was nearly perfect for me. (Maybe one can consider it a “stealth gallery”.) This is but one example of a less than “important and anointed” venue we might discover and consider.
Would we all like a presence in the Milwaukee Art Museum, etc.? Of course! But...there are many reasons for us to revel in our exhibits in the most remote of places, as long as those exhibits help fulfill our personal goals and perceptions. If
we can reach like-minded persons, in fact minds that can be influenced, entertained and where we can share intellectual and aesthetic fellowship, then we have fulfilled important goals...reason enough to create and expend our efforts.
Perhaps we can think of those butterflies flapping their lovely wings in the most remote of places...eventually stirring up hurricanes in the lives of viewers we will never meet.

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