One-Horned Wonder

imothy Westbrook moved to Milwaukee in March 2012, when he became the first out-of-state artist selected for the Pfister Hotel’s yearlong residency program. He was 23 and had recently completed a degree at Syracuse University.Shortly after he arrived in Milwaukee, and unpacked his foot treadle sewing machine and weaving loom, a friend sent his profile to scouts at the fashion competition TV show “Project Runway.” They contacted Westbrook and invited him to audition, and he became one of season 12’s 16 contestants. By the second episode, though, it was obvious Westbrook was cut from a different cloth. The design theme…

Wild Ink

Maybe it comes down to the primal urges of fear, desire and hunger. “The Beast Within: Images of Animals in Tattoo and Contemporary Art,” curated by artist Fred Stonehouse, looks at the influences of tattoo practice on artists. Tapping into the timeless human fascination with animals as metaphors of power, freedom and virility, these images act as totems of mythical strength and mystery. Artists such as Mike Noland and the great CJ Pyle, obsessive master of the ink pen, never fail to pack a visual wallop. Throw in Milwaukee tattoo artist Jon Reiter alongside the eminent California-based tattoo artist Don…

Powerful Provocation

“30 Americans” is a thorny traveling survey of contemporary black artists’ work culled from idiosyncratic Miami collectors Mera and Don Rubell. It’s about time. The show feels like a great, unruly party with Nick Cave’s awe-inspiring Soundsuit, a riveting, strange, Baroque performance costume; Kehinde Wiley’s 25-foot revisionist painting of a homoerotic seminude black male; and Gary Simmons’ powerful installation Duck, Duck, Noose. Even as this show anchors and defines aspects of black art production, the curatorial premise – based solely on race – has been criticized for lacking historical context. But if the show generates interest and discussion, maybe that’s…

Michelangelo in Milwaukee

One of Michelangelo’s first major works was his Pietà. He finished it in 1500 when he was 23 years old. His colleagues in Rome greeted the new sculpture with disbelief that such a young and relatively unknown artist could create such a remarkable work. Michelangelo’s reaction was to return to the piece and chisel his name broadly down the sash that runs between Mary’s breasts. “Michelangelo Buonarroti made this,” he wrote, a quattrocento version of “screw you.” It was the only work he ever signed. This sculpture is considered a masterpiece, but had never grabbed me in any particular way.…