Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How do you thank a city?

The end of April is nearing & I have gone back and fourth with ways to celebrate and document my 10 year anniversary of living in Milwaukee.

my favorite
2005 Downtown Milwaukee near the post office. This wall is now sandblasted clean.

I spent an entire day last week sorting and collecting photos that summarized my time here so far. Given that I have
always taken a lot of photos- there are boxes of semi-organized prints from before I started shooting digital around 2005'ish. In my personal flickr account alone there is over 10,000 images- plus I have two additional flickr accounts (Handmade Nation & Paper Boat) that both have Milwaukee photos. This doesn't even begin to include the 1,000 of cellphone images I've captured since social media has taken over my life. So I made piles and attempted to make a Milwaukee set on flickr, but it was all pretty random and in the end, too much to try and keep simple.

I've come to realize over the past few years I have a lot of documentation (if you had an art show, birthday party or event that I was at, I most likely have photos from it in my archive) of things that have happened around me. From sifting through a lot of that, memories were triggered. A flood of emotions, inspiration and a sense of overwhelming love for the amount of people, events, places and happenings that Milwaukee has brought into my life followed. These photos string together a story of how one thing leads to another. That is always fascinating to me, how an insignificant conversation can become a life changing event much later on. And that is how I came to Milwaukee. A question I get daily still when people find out I'm from Seattle and have decided to live here with no plans on leaving.

2006 Flying kites with Evan Ross Murphy on the roof of the Fortress where I lived for years.

Based on that insignificance string of occurrences that can lead to life changing events- the story that brought me here begins over 20 years ago. It is centered around music, community and art- the foundation for everything I still do today. My early influences created the roots for my entire life, a good reminder for all of us to help create opportunities for others to realize their potential. I'll stay focused on the Milwaukee track because this is another train of thought entirely, but it's necessary to give a shout out to the all-ages venue that I grew up with called The Redmond Fire House that made a huge impact on who I am today. That space is an amazing example of a teen center that has been around long enough to see the long term effects of what a space like that can do for a creative community.

Back to Milwaukee.

darling floor
2006 The floor at the now defunct performance space Darling Hall.

It was the summer of 1995 in Chicago. I was 17, had just graduated high school and was on tour with my friends band
Patterns Make Sunrise from Seattle. The show that night was at the Fireside Bowl and we ended up staying at a kid named Fletcher's house. Since I was 14 I had become a compulsive letter writer and fantastic correspondent, so after our Chicago visit I kept in touch with him. Fletcher and I saw each other a few times over the next few years when he ended up in Seattle. I moved to Minneapolis in 1997 and at some point during that time Fletcher ended up moving to Milwaukee.

[I think this is an important part of the story to interject that Fletcher was one of many friends I had during this time who I met while traveling that I still know now. The penpal's of my youth are a large part of my community of today. The punk rock community I identified with as a teen was a tight-knit and well organized community based around independent music, zines and self-empowering culture.]

I came to visit Fletcher in 2000. It was one of those magical weekends where there was a lot of amazing things happening including this crazy art party. Someone had gotten permission (or I'm assuming had permission since no police ever came) to take over an empty office building in downtown Milwaukee. The entire building was filled with site-specific installations by local artists in every room. The night ended, for me, with a band that I now know as the legendary
Thousandaires, watching my future dancing around like mad. I feel in love with the city's energy and moved here shortly after that trip.

Inova Install
2008 My in progress installation for the Mary Nohl Fellowship exhibit at INOVA, the University of Milwaukee gallery.

2007 Call Me Lightning record release at Todd Wehr Auditorium. CML Frontman Nathan Lilley was my long term boyfriend, collaborator, inspiration and support for many projects I did here. There's no way to talk about my time in this city without giving him props and due thanks.

On April 1, 2001 I moved to Milwaukee after 4+ years in Minneapolis synchronously and/or cosmically right into the hub of Riverwest. A neighborhood where creative projects were unfolding at the time with music, performance, art and film- often all mashed together. My Milwaukee love story expands out from there over the next 10 years, with a short 4 month stint of living in New Orleans to work for a Mardi Gras season in 2002-03. When I was digging through my photos it was all laid out- some things more beautifully than others.
Some too painful to revisit and some too embarrassing to show.

Additional important Milwaukee milestones are:

Flying Fish Gallery Circa 2003
2002-2003 Flying Fish Gallery was my first attempt at a gallery, only open Saturdays. I started it with my boyfriend at the time Brent Goodsell in the front of his house on 800 E Clarke from what would now be catty-corner to the Riverwest Co-op.

Wooden Robot at Paper Boat
2007 Wooden Robot playing at David Stein's Paper Boat Gallery opening. I was one of 3 original members who played in Wooden Robot for the bands entire 5 year run (2002-2007). We were an instrumental band that had many member over the years. I played the musical saw and you may actually know our music which is the soundtrack of my documentary Handmade Nation.

Art vs. Craft 2004
2004 flyer for the first Art vs. Craft. After participating as a vendor at Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago I started Art vs. Craft in Milwaukee. I wanted my city to have a similar event where they could buy work directly from the maker. This show supports emerging and innovative makers in all mediums and is still held the Saturday after Thanksgiving every year.

Paper Boat
2006 Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery (second location). In 2005 I opened Paper Boat with my business partner Kim Kisiolek. For 4 years we sold the work of hundred's of independent makers from around the world. We also hosted gallery exhibits every single month. Eventually the economy in combination with my touring for Handmade Nation forced us to close on a good note in 2009. What we did there is cataloged here.

Sofia Arnold, working on mural at Sky High Gallery
2010 Sofia Arnold paints Sky High Gallery. Just this past June my sweetheart Aaron Polansky who owns Sky High Skateboard Shop just blocks away from the old Paper Boat cleaned out the stockroom and Sky High Gallery was born. Sofi's site-specific mural was up for 3 months as a part of our holiday pop-up shop.

Milwaukee, thank you for making me want to stay here. I may be gone a lot, but this is home and where I will always come back to.

Faythe Levine & Aaron Polansky at Sky High: promo-2
2010 Mike Goelzer took this photo of Aaron & I on our stoop. My Milwaukee future will unfold in this building.


Monday, April 25, 2011


I am really excited and looking forward to this upcoming Sunday when my friend and visiting artist Monica Canilao arrives. She is coming to spend the week installing at our gallery for her show What's Lost Is Safe” that opens on May 6th. If you are not familiar with Monica's work, I hope that through my documentation of her install on the blog and/or a visit to the gallery between May 6th and July 31st that you soon will be.

Monica Canilao: See No Evil

I do need some help.

Monica primarily works with old found objects and I have a list of items she has asked me to help her source. If you have any materials (listed below) that you like to donate to Monica's install they can be dropped off this week at Sky High (hours below). Donated items will not be returned and most likely cut/sewn/glued/reconstructed. This is the perfect opportunity to let go of precious items that you have been meaning to do something with but haven't found the time or inspiration. If you have items that you are not sure about bringing in but looks like something she may work with please shoot me an email first and I'll let you know. You can also use her website for visual reference. Don't hesitate to ask me questions and thank you so much for your support with this project.

Old quilts or quilting pieces/squares/fabric
Paint- acrylic based or spray cans
Interesting metal pieces/bits
Chair and table rungs and legs
Old nice paint chippy looking wood
Old antique looking pretty crap
Old windows or cool looking drawers
String or yarn
Things that involve: alters, junk treasures, cave, mystical spirit animals
Stalactites- (we want to make some or look for things that could look like them)
Things that there are an abundance of/in multiples

Ideally all donated items will be dropped off by this Saturday. If you have stuff you would like to donate but can't get to us. I may be able to arrange a pick-up.

Drop off hours:
Monday-Friday 12-7
Tuesday SHUT
Saturday 11-6
Sunday 12-5

Sky High: 2501 S. Howell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207
in Bay View south of downtown

Saturday, April 23, 2011

peach pie // spring change

I made my first peach pie today. It's not that awesome, I mean it looks good, but something is definitely off with the filling. Baking has never been my forte but boys will eat anything- so I'm going to bring it over to a BBQ at the shop this evening to get it out of the house. Everyone everywhere is ready for the season shift and I'm right there too. It's hard to be patient when bulbs are bursting out of the cold earth and your summer dresses are staring at you longingly.

Spring Change

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Temporary Mural Project // Sky High Gallery

Last June Aaron and I decided that the 8'x8' space on the front of our building (which houses both Sky High Skateboard Shop & Sky High Gallery) should be used to promote local artists and we launched the Temporary Mural Project. The featured artists, currently all from the Milwaukee area, are invited to paint the mural in their studio. The mural is then installed on our building for a 3 month duration. These temporary murals brighten the community, promote growth and creativity in our neighborhood all while giving the artist street side exposure. We also print postcards of each mural that are available for free while supplies last in the shop (currently we still have copies of all 3 cards left, available in the gallery).

This past week we got to see the work in progress of the 4th edition to our project, a collaboration between
Makeal Flammini & Ella Dwyer. Their work centered around words from a Mexican poem "if you do not heal today, you will heal tomorrow" will be installed for our next gallery opening with Monica Canilao on May 6th.

Temporary Mural Project- Edition #4

Temporary Mural Project- Edition #4

Temporary Mural Project- Edition #4

Temporary Mural Project- Edition #4

In case you aren't in our area here are some images from the past 3 Temporary Mural Project installations:

Sky High: temporary mural project
Alyssa Schulte, detail- Edition #1

Sky High Temporary Mural Project Fall 2010: Kimberly Weiss
Kimberly Weiss- Edition #2

Temporary Mural Project: Winter 2011, Edition 3 by Colin Matthes
De-install/Install between Kimberly Weiss & Colin Matthes

Temporary Mural Project: Winter 2011, Edition 3 by Colin Matthes
Colin Matthes- Edition #3

My long term goal is to have a large off-site exhibit with all 8 murals from the first 2 years. Links to the mural artists & details are on the Sky High Gallery website. We hope to see you Friday May 6th between 6-10pm for the opening reception of Oakland based artist Monica Canilao's "What's Lost Is Safe".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Babette // Small Space

I had two interns this school year both from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). In the fall I worked with Sara Caron & this winter/spring Amelia Torporsh. Both amazing ladies had their work in the MIAD Senior Thesis Exhibit that opened last week. I had a chance to swing by during the preview and was super proud of both of their installations.

Amelia Torporsh launched her new line Babette:

Babette: Amelia Torporsh

Babette: Amelia Torporsh

Babette: Amelia Torporsh

Babette: Amelia Torporsh

Sara Caron installed her collaborative project Small Space including a cataloged library of her collection of collected local art publications:

Small Space: Sara Caron

Small Space: Sara Caron

Small Space: Sara Caron

Our time was limited at the preview so we didn't get to check out much more than what was on the 4th floor. There was a small number of students showing work I thought was exceptional and a to be expected amount of mediocre work as well. We did get our photo taken in Carly Huibregtse's Arnolfini Photo Booth which you can view here- since I love a project that involves photographing and documenting communities in obscure ways, I was a fan.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Some call it paradise // Boss Man & Miss Tattoo

Vacay nicknames. Every day on our walk into central Ubud the drivers would ask Aaron (aka Boss Man) and myself (ala Miss Tattoo) if we needed transport. If you are looking for a good trip, I vouch for 2 weeks in Bali, should do the trick. It may be expensive to fly there but once your feet are on the ground your as good as gold.

Bali: 2011
Sari Organik

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011
Not to be missed, Ribs at Nuris

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011
Wild walkways & sidewalks that end

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011
Driving to Amed from Ubud

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011
In Amed the fishing boats come in by 8am

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011
Our bungalow at Good Karma in Amed

Bali: 2011

Bali: 2011
The hot/cold baths at Hotel Tjampuhan (not pictured: pool & steam room)
well worth the $8 for 1/2 day of use

Bali: 2011
This guy was the size of Aaron's hand

Bali: 2011
The end.
Back to work.
Full photo set here.

P.S. I was in Bali 6 months ago with my dad and took a ton more photos if you want to explore more in the village of Ubud where I stayed both times as well a a quick trip to the island of Java there are photos here, here and here.