Even before graduating from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2017, Ariana Vaeth was exhibiting her work around town.
She landed a solo show at the InterContinental Hotel (now called the Saint Kate Arts Hotel) while she was still in school. And invitations from other galleries, plus a teaching offer from her alma mater, soon followed. “I realized I’d spread myself very thin because I said yes to so many things,” she says. “But I don’t regret it.”
Now the young painter’s expressive, deeply personal portraits can be found throughout the city and beyond. Some are currently on view, and for sale, at the Lynden Sculpture Garden. And Vaeth, who’s as passionate about activism as she is about art, intends to donate 50% of the proceeds to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund.
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When out-of- towners visit Vaeth, a Baltimore native, she likes to take them to local art exhibits. “Sometimes I’ll try to hit up two shows in a row,” she says. “I love The Alice Wilds in Walker’s Point. And Var West and Hawthorn Contem- porary – they’re close together, so you can easily walk from one to the other.”
BUBBLE TEA BREAKS
“I usually get it from Asian Fusion. They know me there because I go in so often.” Her go-to flavor? Matcha, or melon with rainbow boba.
Vaeth rents studio space in the Sherman Phoenix, and she’s been impressed with the organization’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. “They’ve been doing so much during the pandemic, providing masks for people as soon they walk in, and just generally doing what Black folks do best, which is carry on.” She also says she’s found great gifts at the Underground Makers Market located on-site.
Though it’s been a few years since she graduated, Vaeth still returns to her old stomping grounds at MIAD regularly. “It’s fun to walk through the building and see how it’s continuing to evolve. They always have exhibitions up. And they have a great student sale in December. That’s the place to go to get artists’ work before they get really big.”
LISTENING TO LOCAL MUSIC
As an artist, Vaeth understands the importance of supporting local makers, even those in different disciplines. She listens to 88Nine regularly and has found many bands and artists through the station. “I really like Zed Kenzo,” she says. “I follow them on Instagram, and love their attitude and bravado.”