The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Gallery showcases Valley’s hidden beauty

An artist paints images from the valley in preparation of the gallery. Photo courtesy of Melissa Musante.

What comes to mind when you think of the Menomonee Valley?

If your answer is “Where’s that?” head on down to the 16th Street Viaduct and just take a look around — it’s the 4-mile-long, half-mile-wide stretch of land under your feet.

Now imagine going down into the valley, home to Valley Fields, rail yards, the Harley Davidson Museum, Miller Park, and meat-rendering plants, to find artistic inspiration.

If you can do that, then you’re in the same boat as the artists recruited for an upcoming art auction dedicated to this historic part of Milwaukee.

Titled “Beyond the Canvas,” this gallery show celebrating the transformation of the Menomonee Valley will take place Saturday at Helios on 1207 W. Canal St.

The event was organized by the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) and Menomonee Valley Partners to commemorate the Menomonee Valley’s evolution from desolation to the frontier of a green Milwaukee economy.

According to Melissa Musante, director of MARN, this area surrounding the Menomonee River used to be the life source of Milwaukee, providing a key waterway and countless rails to fuel the city’s commerce.

However, as times changed, so did the Menomonee Valley.

“Most of the time that I was growing up, it was an industrial area — the earth was poisoned, it was abandoned and dilapidated,” said Musante. “When the rails died, it died. It was kind of a no man’s land — people didn’t go down there.”

Giving the valley a makeover became the mission of the Menomonee Valley Partners when they formed in 1999. The agency is a nonprofit organization dedicated to redeveloping the Menomonee Valley area.

“The Menomonee Valley Partners wanted to revitalize and reclaim it to make it a manufacturing jewel in Milwaukee,” Musante said. “They really have done that — a lot of businesses down there are green and use renewable resources.”

The “Beyond the Canvas” celebration auction is a “Plein Air event,” meaning all the art is done out of doors. However, this Plein Air event is nontraditional in that it will not focus on painting as its primary medium but will include a broad spectrum of alternate materials ranging from motion picture to sculpture to printmaking.

“This is the first time that this kind of event has been done at all,” Musante said. “We didn’t want to be so limiting to not engage people who weren’t painters. It’s a very different concept for a Plein Air event.”

Some of the artists participating in the auction include Eddee Daniel, a photographer from Wauwatosa, and Pamela Anderson, who is a painter as well as one of the board members of MARN and an organizer of the “Beyond the Canvas” event.

Anderson’s submitted piece will be crafted using acrylic paint and features her signature style: abstract expressionism, which Anderson describes as painting based off of ideas and not the exact replication of a subject.

To prepare for her artistic rendering of the Menomonee Valley, Anderson wandered through different areas and took photographs of points of interest.

“It’s really interesting to have the nature part of the scenery with the juxtaposition of the concrete and the structural images of the buildings and the colorful trains,” Anderson said. “I feel that you can see that in my work.”

Helios will display the collected works for “Beyond the Canvas” from Friday, Oct. 15 to Saturday, Oct. 16 at their 1207 W. Canal St. location. They will also host a final reception and awards ceremony from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *