Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Effective Use of Space

Eight artists will be showing their work beginning this weekend at the newly renovated gallery space at 324 W. Gorham St. The show, entitled “Bite Your Lip,” opens Friday with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. and runs through May 18.

Each of the 20-plus pieces presents a view of the human form and its intangible attributes. As the show’s coordinator, Dana Feigel, explains, “The pieces deal with androgyny, sensuality and sexuality in various forms.”

The works are not designed for shock value or simple eroticism. They offer opinions on the metaphysical significance applied to the physical form.


Some are quite solemn, such as MFA student Debra Kayes’ untitled oil painting of a nude male against a pastel background of flowers and subtle geometric forms.

Others, such as Minneapolis-native Emily Johnson’s “Shannon” (a sculpture described as “mixed-media Nipple Pillows”) are humorously self-aware. UW fourth-year art student Susie Silbert’s “Tattooed Fruit” also embraces a pleasing sense of the absurd.

The show also features two groups of black and white photographs by Henry Dombey and Maya Liparini, glass sculpture by Lara Rosenbush and mixed-media work by Janel Schultz. All four artists are fourth-year art students.

There is considerable variety to the work being presented, but the theme of the show unites the diverse styles and media, and the uniform subtlety of tone and texture ensures that none of the pieces overwhelms or distracts from the others.

For a relatively small number of pieces by a relatively large number of artists, the show is remarkably unified; however, the most significant aspect of the show may be the space in which it is being presented. The former retail storefront has been essentially unoccupied for some time — though some have found it useful as a huge, glass kiosk for posting flyers.

As a hint of future artistic possibilities, it was home for a time last year to electrician Chris Murphy’s large installation: a curious pair of inflatable hands, operated by touch by passersby.

Feigel, a fourth-year UW student majoring in art and psychology, took notice of the space’s prime location and high visibility. “I had been passing by the empty space where this show is taking place for almost two years, thinking about its potential as a gallery,” she said.

Faith Purvey, whose oil on wood painting, “Untitled Architect Smoke Project,” appears in the show, has also given the space some thought. “I am excited to be showing in this space. I’ve been waiting for it to be a gallery ever since I saw it!”

While preparing for “Bite Your Lip,” those involved have taken to calling the space, simply and appropriately, “The Big Empty Space.” But for the show (and as the space will no longer be empty), it is now known — temporarily and unofficially — as “Gallery Q.”

The name is a tribute to Charlene Quest, owner of the adjacent Studio Quest salon. Quest, who has made use of the space primarily for storage, approved and encouraged its use for “Bite Your Lip.”

Quest has owned and operated the salon for the past three years, and shows art regularly in the Studio Quest Gallery on the salon’s upper floor. She has happily made herself part of the artistic community, and she regards her occupation as just another form of creative expression.

“We all tend to inspire each other,” she said of her local artists’ community. “It’s nice to be able to be around art every day.”

With local support and much labor from Feigel and the other artists involved, the Big Empty Space has been converted into a very functional gallery.

The idea for “Bite Your Lip” was born as a part of Feigel’s independent study under UW associate professor of art Michelle Grabner. Though an artist in her own right, last semester Feigel had the notion to organize a group show featuring other artists. Among her acquaintances and fellow artists, she found many eager participants, all of whom acknowledge that finding gallery space in Madison can be a trial.

Sculptor Scott Olson — who will be presenting pieces in wood and metal, as well as a bust in polyurethane — likens artists to musicians who have trouble finding places to perform. He points out the struggle many in the Madison arts community undergo to find an audience.

“There are so many people who want to show their work,” he notes. “There aren’t enough venues for artists.”

Feigel says she hopes the space will continue to give local artists another, much-needed venue.

‘Bite Your Lip’ will hold its official opening this Friday, April 25, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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