Nº04 | January 9, 2016

Mason Cooley once quipped: "Good parties create a temporary youthfulness.” With the start of a new year (and the doubtless parties spent with loved ones) we hope everyone reading is primed to start anew.

In just the first few days of 2016, we saw the announcement of The Lunchbox, a new gallery space run by the collective After School Special, while Riverwest Radio broadcasted for the first time on 104.1FM airwaves having secured their FCC license and tower (see interview below). 

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s renovations recently received coverage in the New York Times, highlighting the renewed emphasis on the permanent collections. And the art world lost the prolific Ellsworth Kelly at the age of 92, whose painting "Red, Yellow, Blue II” on display at the Museum has long excited visitors. 

With a host of new openings and events to ring in the new year — we hope you enjoy the view.
Jeremy Hatch's Treehouse in the French Parlor at the Charles Allis
Known for its 19th-century collection of paintings, porcelains, and furnishings, the Charles Allis house museum is now home to a transformative installation of contemporary artwork, on view through February 28. Threshold, an exhibition curated by local artist and provocateur Niki Johnson, features work by local, national, and international artists including loans from the Wisconsin Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum, an installation by Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes, and a video piece by South African artist William Kentridge. Meandering through the rooms of the museum, visitors will find room-size sculptures, floor-to-ceiling video art, and hay-covered floors, among other surprises. To accomplish this metamorphic feat, Johnson worked with the board and administration of the Charles Allis Art Museum for over year, resulting in an exhibition that highlights the museum’s holdings by way of creative intervention. Her goal, says Johnson, was to “integrate contemporary art into the Allis in a way that activates the permanent collection rather than interrupting [it].” The exhibition is supplemented by a host of dynamic programming beginning in mid-January and continuing through the end of February. For more information about the exhibition, including hours and complete program details, visit the Charles Allis exhibition page.

The Charles Allis, Nov 5, 2015–Feb 28, 2016

John Riepenhoff and Arthur Ircink: The Art of Culture Makers 
Jan 9, 2 PM

Gulf + Sculpture

Jan 22, 7-10 PM



Niki Johnson on "Language"
Jan 29, 8:30-10 AM
Charles Allis Art Museum

4 grrls: pt. ii
Jan 15, 7-10 PM


My Candle Burns at Both Ends
Jan 22, 6-10 PM
Hot Pop!


Emily Mason
Jan 30, 6-8 PM

Riverwest FEMFEST

Jan 21-25, 5 PM


A Person is a Noun: Opening Reception
Jan 22, 6-9 PM
Portrait Society Gallery, Dean Jensen

Jan 30, 6-9 PM
Alverno Presents

Riverwest Radio and Riverwest Film and Video. Courtesy of Naomi Shersty

Xav Leplae is an artist, filmmaker, and activist who has operated out of Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood since 1991. His longest running operation, Riverwest Film and Video, has facilitated the space for his most recent project to gain momentum: Riverwest Radio.

Open View: What first inspired you to start Riverwest Radio?

Xav Leplae: I started out in film as an artist and got involved almost immediately with an organization in New York called Paper Tiger TV. I also got involved with Public Access TV in Milwaukee. Those things set me on a path of community media and creating platforms for people to express themselves and be able to get their hands on broadcasting tools.

I do see it [Community Media] as one of the best forms of activism, because politically, almost all social problems stem from misunderstanding. So many problems in the world are about communication and people being able to talk to each other. I’ve definitely done my share of protesting in the streets and that kind of political activism, but especially after the [2011] protests in Madison, I’ve really felt the need to create lines of dialogue.

Riverwest Radio sprung from that [protest] and the Occupy Movement which came along the following year. The sense that our media landscape is becoming this kind of monoculture, is really the equivalent of a food co-op vs large grocery store chains or a small family farm vs a factory farm. I see Riverwest Radio going along those same lines. Because our media is such a monocultural environment, I think we need something that is really grass-roots and homegrown. I feel like art is very much about the self, and activism is more about the people. This format is a good way for me to operate between those two tendencies.

OV: The project has been running for almost 4 years. What has been the most apparent change in its structure and vision since it started?

XL: Switching to FM has been a big game changer for us. Up until then, it was becoming a little questionable as to why we would continue doing this. It kind of gives us street cred, or something like that.

In terms of content, not much has changed. Shows have tightened up a bit. I need to make sure everything is running on time, like clock work. But what happens within those perimeters is not so different. People seem to be taking more pride in their shows. Many have been doing more work with publishing and making sure their work gets seen. It’s about more than just making something and leaving. They’re creating it, publishing it, promoting it and making it something people will be sure to check out.

OV: What kind of effect have you seen the radio station have on the community?

XL: It’s hard to tell sometimes. We have seen a very positive response from the community. It seems like the public is supportive of what we are doing. But sometimes it’s hard to tell what kind of effect you are having on people.

I do see that these shows really matter a lot to the people who are able to participate in them. We run about 50 shows a week, and these shows, to many of the participants, are a pretty important part of their lives. For some people, it's one of the only things they are actively involved in, besides their job. It allows the community a creative outlet. It's gratifying to know that it makes a difference in people's lives, in many different ways.

OV: Why do you find Riverwest the best location for these projects?

XL: If someone were to say ‘start all over again,’ and I didn’t know Milwaukee well, you could probably pick a few other locations that might be just as good, but this is a pretty ideal spot. We are really in the heart of the neighborhood, right next to Fuel Cafe, which is a converging point for many people. Since we depend so much on foot traffic as a storefront radio station and not just a radio station imbedded in a building, it is nice to be in close proximity to so many things.

In my opinion, Riverwest also happens to be the most creative neighborhood. This is an area where many people with different ethnic backgrounds all live. I am sure there are other places that are similar, but this also happens to be a very community conscious neighborhood. The Riverwest 24, the Riverwest Co-op, the Public House, and People’s Books are all great examples of organizations that are about community. So we have that going for us. We have kind of a political alliance that’s happening in this area that is very much about connecting people.

OV: How can artists get involved with Riverwest Radio?

XL: I would like to encourage people to get involved. We are primarily talk radio. 80 percent talk is what we are aiming for. But we also really want radio art. So we would like to encourage projects that experiment with radio as an art form.

Open View is compiled and published at the start of each month by Ashley Janke, Paul Oemig, and Nate Pyper. We'd love to hear from you –– shoot us an email with your questions and suggestions. 
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