Gresl working to add to lakefront arts scene
Currently, there are relatively few establishments dedicated purely to the contemporary art of Wisconsinites.
"No one has taken Wisconsin artists seriously enough," says Gary John Gresl, President of The Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors and the man behind the gallery project. "We have such a broad range of artists in Wisconsin, from the technically proficient to the very progressive, and many of them are leaving for greener pastures. I think the gallery will help to prevent 'brain drain' and keep artists here."
The gallery would serve Wisconsin artists (including Native American and African American artists), the art-going public, and art students. It would provide a venue for art exhibition by Wisconsin residents, with a focus on living artists. The gallery would also offer art educational programs to urban children, distribute literature about art education, serve as a meeting place for art-oriented organizations, and act as a public institution devoted to Wisconsin's arts resources.
"It's not just in Wisconsin that the age-old cliché is true: one is least appreciated at home," says Gary, who first began dreaming of a center that supported local talent in 1995.
The Wisconsin Art Forum and Gallery plans to be self-sustaining through memberships, potential fees for services, juried exhibitions, grant proposals, donations and fundraising activities. The West Bend Art Museum and The Wisconsin Academy of Science, Art and Literature have already committed to partnerships if the project launches.
Gresl, along with other friends and artists, are in the process of finishing up the proposal and looking for support from groups and individuals. They hope to present their idea to the city in February or March. Gresl believes the gallery project has a good chance of being approved, even though it will be going up against a couple of other proposals.
The coast guard building, built in 1915, is located on North Lincoln Memorial Drive. Although it has been neglected for over a decade, the building is structurally sound and an architectural gem. Gresl considers it to be the ideal location for the gallery because of its close proximity to downtown activities, other art museums and galleries.
For more information, visit the Web site, www.wisconsinartforum.com.
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