Yet another reason to love Milwaukee — UW-M Peck School of the Arts Summer Dances program. This year brings us Stephan Koplowitz and Water Sight, Milwaukee. This suite of site-specific dances comprise two programs, the three movement lines, tides, shores… (above) set in the Cudahy Gardens of the Milwaukee Art Museum, and The Current Past (below) set at the base of the North Point Water Tower on Milwaukee’s East Side.
Koplowitz is an accomplished choreographer, having made 63 dances in the past 30 years. Here he has worked with UW-M dance department in a series of research ventures, master classes and residencies over the past year to create these two original and quite site specific pieces. lines, tides, shores… features an original score by Tim Russell, and The Current Past a score by Richard Hynson of Bel Canto Chorus and Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. In addition, on Current Past, Koplowitz has collaborated with the multi-talented Luc Vanier, who has produced spectacular digital projections which were thrown up against the water tower itself, quite often with live images of the dancers as they performed (as seen above).
That hundreds of Milwaukeans, and those from surrounding communities, were able to enjoy this on a summer’s afternoon/evening is a delight in and of itself. That they could do so for free is spectacular! High grades all around for work well done.
A Delectable Evening of Imperfection is the name Portrait Society Gallery proprietress Debra Brehmer chose for a pair of dinner parties served community style at the gallery this past Tuesday & Wednesday, in honor of the recent openings of a Martha Wilson retrospective at UW-M PSoA’s Inova Gallery and The Personal is Political: Martha Wilson and MKE at the Portrait Society itself. These meals, created with vision, whimsy and not a little bit of creative industry by food artist Ame Gilbert, of New York city.
Served in three seatings, and several courses, this meal was as exquisite as it was fascinating. The first course, imperfection (or beauty is only skin deep) was served in the outer-most gallery, filled to overflowing with Martha Wilson’s latest works, and consisted of a salad of locally grown greens with avocado and toasted seeds, and a locally produced Mama Sita’s vegetarian tamales with a tomatillo salsa. Yummy when accompanied by a 2011 Chateau Des Karantes Rosé. This was serves on a long table gaily festooned with gourds, flowers and other natural items, with the 20 or so guests lining both sides in a free-for-all of conversation and camaraderie.
The second seating required us to take our chairs and a glass into the second gallery, which featured the work of local artists such as Niki Johnson, and several smaller tables set for 4 or 6. We were instructed to rearrange ourselves to sit with people we didn’t know or hadn’t come with. Again I found myself next to fascinating and interesting people, including, at times, Ms Brehmer herself (when she could take the time to sit). The wait staff, wearing masks of Martha Wilson imagery or iconography, busied themselves about us, while Debra occasionally would rise to instruct us on the present course, add highlights of information about the art surrounding us, or elicit conversation amongst the assembled.
Transformation in multiple plates, the title of this second course, gives us a clue, as the first dish is awaiting us when we sit. A bowl has a smear of blonde miso paste as well as cubes of tofu and some kelp. The miso and tofu both represent transformations, via fermentation or processing, of soy. We are instructed to garnish our soup — which it is now as soon as the staff pour boiling water into the bowls — with dried seaweed, grated shitake mushrooms and freshly harvested shiso. Hard to eat in the western style shallow soup bowls with the eastern style ceramic spoons, the soup is none the less quite good.
Next up is a sambal egg with green papaya salad. The fish sauce preparation of the egg is a spicy delight, and contrasts well with the coolness of the salad. This is followed by sushi rice with homemade pickled radishes, cucumbers and other veggies, a salty, briny treat! Then comes a plate of cheeses and dehydrated fruit. This is all served with Mike Brenner’s locally made small-batch IPA beer. A perfect finish.
Lastly we are excused to retreat to the third gallery, the smallest, to reflect/reveal with glazed peeled orange and cracked almond upside-down cake and locally sources Purple Door vanilla ice cream with a touch of fruity olive oil and sea salt, served along with mugs of Champagne.
Wow! Let’s hope that Brehmer and Portrait Society Gallery produce more of these feasts.