By Bobby Tanzilo
Published Jan. 16, 2017 at 5:03 p.m.0Save
What comes around goes around, and that's perhaps even more true in Smallwaukee, where worlds seem to collide on a daily basis. I was reminded of this recently when longtime Milwaukee Journal editorial cartoonist Bill Sanders re-appeared on the scene, contributing his biting satire to OnMilwaukee.
The artist, who now lives in Fort Myers, Florida, has a show of his works on view this weekend, Friday-Saturday, Jan. 20-21, as part of Gallery Night and Day at the Ayzha Fine Arts Gallery & Boutique on the second floor of The Shops of Grand Avenue, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. You can also see his work regularly on his blog.
Sanders, who won numerous awards and had a varied and interesting career – including a long run as a needle in the side of Milwaukee Mayor Henry Maier – taught me an early lesson in journalism. It's one I'll never forget.
In one of Jim Romenesko's feature-writing classes at UW-Milwaukee, I was assigned to write a profile of Sanders. Because of my meager professional experience, I sauntered into Sanders' office just north of the short-but-then-significant skywalk connecting the Journal with the Sentinel and proceeded to ask him the most inane of questions.
Understandably, Sanders had little time or patience for this and suggested in no uncertain terms that I do some research and come back with some new questions. It stung at first – and I can still recall how small I felt sitting there next to his drawing table, looking out over the Arena across the street.
But I took his advice and returned to have a great conversation with him, leaving with a cassette he'd made with a Dixieland band in which he performed. More importantly, I emerged having learned a valuable lesson that has served me well.
Now, long after his 1991 retirement from the Milwaukee Journal – after a tenure that began in 1967 (he'd previously worked at the Kansas City Star and the Greensboro Daily News, as well as for Stars & Stripes during his time serving in Korea) – Sanders is back in town and we're colleagues. You can see his cartoons on the OnMilwaukee Facebook page and other social media.
You can also check out his work in person this weekend at Ayzha's "Against the Grain: Timeless Impressions." Milwaukee serves as the second stop for the show, which debuted at Open Grounds Studio in Seaside, California, and it may hit the road again in the future, according to a press release from the gallery.
Though Sanders, who turned 86 in October, won't be here in person for the opening, he will do a live two-way video link, and his daughter Denese Sanders will appear to talk about her dad's no-holds-barred work, which has always been unafraid to take on issues of civil liberties and injustice. When Sanders stopped contributing work to the paper, it was Milwaukee's loss.
I'm glad he's back on the Milwaukee scene, not only for the journalism lesson he taught me, but also for the daily ethics lessons he offered us all through his hard-hitting commentary and his wicked skills with ink and paper.
You can see the work from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. There will be refreshments and entertainment. The programs with Denese Sanders are slated for 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.
Pictured: 2013-14 BOLT Resident Rashayla Marie Brown presenting her work to Chicago and Milwaukee-based artists at Chicago Artists Coalition. July 2014.
In 2014, CAC partnered with Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN), MKE <-> LAX, and AYZHA Fine Arts Gallery in Milwaukee. The tours took place over two weekends in July and August 2014, involving the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 BOLT Residents and Milwaukee-based artists and arts administrators.In Chicago, events included artist presentations at CAC followed by a tour of Dorchester Projects and Rebuild Foundation sites with Rebuild Foundation Director Jeffreen Hayes, a visit to threewalls with Lauren Basing, a visit to The Franklin to view an installation by Luftwerk, lunch and discussion at 6018North hosted by Tricia Van Eck, and discussion and reflection at Comfort Station with Jordan Martins.In Milwaukee, events included brunch at AYZHA Fine Art Gallery, followed by visits to the Milwaukee Art Museum, INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts at Peck School of Arts at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), a picnic at Lynden Sculpture Garden, and tours of Plaid Tuba with artist and founder Reginald Baylor, The Pitch Project, Comb Gallery, Terry McCormick Contemporary Fine and Folk Art Gallery, and Green Gallery.
Spoken word and performing artist Jeanette Richardson would also participate in the Ayzha Fine Arts Gallery & Boutique proposal. Photo taken December 10th, 2013 by Grace Fuhr.
More than 450 people attended the Milwaukee Ballet’s 11th annual “Nutcracker Tea” at the University Club on Sunday. On hand were lots of ballet fans, mostly parents and their daughters, many of whom are students at the Milwaukee Ballet School. There were holiday sweets and tea, a performance of a scene from “The Nutcracker,” and a chance for kids to work on crafts in the “toyshop” of Drosselmeyer, a character from the holiday ballet. The entire event was a fundraiser for the Milwaukee Ballet School and the ballet’s community outreach program. Our photos capture the festivities.
The Milwaukee art scene is now perhaps more dispersed than ever. In Bay View, Keith Nelson has established a consistent studio rental space for artists, with a connected gallery called Usable Space. In the Third Ward, temporary venues take advantage of gallery night crowds, and Deb Brehmer has steadfastly made her Portrait Society the inclusive centerpoint of that zone. In the Harambee neighborhood just west of Riverwest, Evelyn Terry opened the Terry McCormick Gallery in part to keep the memory of George McCormick alive, while offering a necessary venue to many of the city’s black artists. Cynthia Henry opened Ayzha Fine Arts in the old Grand Avenue Mall downtown. The annual Nohl Show has kept the work of the best mature and emerging artists visible, and the Haggerty Museum of Art, under its former director, jumped aboard the bandwagon with its annual “Current Tendencies” exhibition featuring Wisconsin artists. For three short years, Sara Krajewski (who also once curated at the Madison Art Center), maintained INOVA’s vitality and central position as Milwaukee’s only dedicated institutional exhibitor of international contemporary art. INOVA, alas, struggles to stay alive and relevant, having recently lost its director and direction. The Lynden Sculpture Garden shows a mix of local, regional, national and international visual and dance artists amidst the backdrop of the large-scale outdoor sculpture collection. Much recent activity has sought to cross the various cultural boundaries in Milwaukee, using social action and public practice modes: Makeal Flammini, Ella Dwyer, and Jes Myszka’s occasional Parachute Project mixed North, West and East siders (these terms are generally used as codes for the city’s racial and economic divisions) with artists from outside the city, and the Riverwest 24 bicycle race, a 24-hour jaunt that joins hundreds of Milwaukeeans and beyonders who make the neighborhood circuit over one night and day, hosts some of the old antic artmaking spirit of Kuchar and Bob Nelson. The race’s checkpoints have featured a film set for The Godfather by Chris Fons and Renato Umali (racers collude in short scenes between their pedaling jags), and filmmaker/performance artist Steve Wetzel’s “Andy Positive” character analyzing the dreams of the dreamless riders during the wee hours. The resolutely anarchic Xav Leplae is looking to establish his new venture Riverwest Radio as a functioning non-profit entity, following the general silly-to-serious trajectory of many of this generation’s artists. Most recently, Ben Balcom, Josh Wiessbach (both UWM Film students), Steve Wetzel and Bogner opened the Microlights cinema, just two blocks down from Barber’s old Bamboo location (Microlights has since lost its home and is now a peripatetic venue). Riepenhoff regularly takes the Green Gallery to art fairs around the world, featuring a mixed slate of local and international artists. Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam, who relocated to Oak Park, IL, for a 10-year stint, in 2009 opened the Poor Farm, a rural contemporary arts center located in Waupaca County’s farm country. The venture perhaps best exemplifies the old Milwaukeeists spirit, attracting the attention of the international art world to an even further frontier, in a homey setting.