Inside/Outside: Linda Wervey Vitamvas & Kevin Giese
Opening reception: Sunday, June 27, 2-4 pm
Linda Wervey Vitamvas
Linda Wervey Vitamvas will be showing two large works that bring together a multitude of diminutive ceramic pieces. Surface Tension, on view in the gallery, consists of more than 350 glazed porcelain pinch pots on a narrow, 20-foot glass shelf. The pots have the feel of shells that have been collected, stacked, and arranged in an orderly fashion. "Molecules in a liquid have attractive forces that hold them together, so the surface layer behaves like a thin elastic skin," Vitamvas observes. "As I rolled the glaze around the inside of each tiny piece I became mesmerized by this phenomenon and obsessed with the phrase describing it, sufrace tension." Vitamvas will also show several porcelain objects inspired by botanical drawings and the elaborate biological renderings of Ernst Haeckel. "There is a resemblance to form and anatomy that is familiar to me from my medically-inspired work," notes Vitamvas. "There is an uncanny similarity in reproductive form that exists in both the animal and plant kingdoms."
Vitamvas's outdoor piece responds to the environment of the sculpture garden and corresponds to her work in the gallery. Instead of a glass shelf, Vitamvas uses a 20-foot I-beam to display small pinch pots made from local clay. This piece echoes the scale and industrial materials of several of the sculptures on site. The pots will not be fired and will disintegrate as they are exposed to the elements, speaking to the transience of their appearance in the sculpture garden. Vitamvas will document the disintegration, creating a permanent record of their existence.
A native of the Milwaukee area, Linda Wervey Vitamvas earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and practiced psychiatric, obstetrical and surgical nursing for much of her life. Her persistent love of art led her to integrate her scientific knowledge and experiences with the study of art. She has studied in non-traditional settings, both locally and abroad, and has formalized her education by earning her Master's and Master of Fine Art degrees from the UWM. Vitamvas has won awards in the 2009 Wisconsin Biennial, Forward: A Survey of Wisconsin Art Now, and the 2005 and 2010 Kohler Eight Counties exhibitions. Her work was featured in a solo show at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, Wisconsin. She is currently exhibiting in the 2010 Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Vitamvas is represented by Elaine Erickson Gallery in Milwaukee and resides in Bayside where she works as a ceramic sculptor. She may be found on the web at: lindavitamvas.com
Kevin Giese tackles our complicated relationship to the natural world directly in his outdoor work, Immigrant. "Fifteen years ago I discovered the beautiful orange heartwood of mature buckthorn trees," says Giese. "I quickly learned that they are considered invasive." First introduced in this country from Europe in the 1900s, buckthorns-with their elegant curves and small stature--were prized as ornamental trees. Giese has worked with the wood in many forms, from furniture to installation. The trees for this piece were harvested from the Lynden grounds. "As a naturalist I lament the losses inflicted on our native habitat by these trees. As an artist I am intrigued by the dynamic between their visual beauty, strong resilient characteristics and their pariah status: unwanted, disliked, overlooked...Ultimately, it is we humans who are the invaders, dominating any landscape we occupy."
Giese will show a number of earlier works in the gallery. These include Still Living, an installation composed of eighty ash strips held under tension-a work that emerged from a dream about building a bamboo fishing pole-and Original River, a hollowed-out, riverine tree trunk filled with thousands of quartz pebbles sifted from Mississippi River sands over the course of two years.
Kevin Giese is an associate lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1992 and his MFA in 2007. Over the course of many years, Giese has produced work that is shaped by Buddhist philosophy, a deep knowledge of and affection for the natural world, and an extensive understanding of traditional wood joining techniques. Giese views his artistic project as one of repair and re-presentation of natural objects; he employs processes that echo nature's slow and repetitive rhythms as he reconstructs pieces of the physical world in his sculptures and installations. Giese has had solo shows at the Northwestern Mutual Life Gallery at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee and at the Wriston Art Center at Lawrence University in Appleton. He has shown most recently at the Dean Jensen Gallery; at Inova at UWM as part of an exhibition of work by his teacher, Joseph Friebert; and at Cedar Gallery in Milwaukee. His web site is: kevingiese.com