The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s biannual Gallery Night is returning to Madison venues May 5 for the largest scale rendition in the history of the event.
This year’s Spring Gallery Night will feature prominent and emerging artists in over 80 local venues, ranging from smaller local galleries to coffee shops, to even real estate offices. The event turns each of these ordinary locations into gallery venues — creating a sense of inclusion between the community and the museum.
Unlike other events held by the museum, community members are at the forefront of its planning and execution, allowing local businesses and artists to choose the types of art and themes they want represented.
The museum itself only displays a few previously debuted exhibitions the night of the event, and one preview of a new exhibit, as a means to encourage Madison art lovers to venture further and explore what the rest of the city has to offer, museum spokesperson Erika Monroe-Kane said.
Conversation Starter: Alex Orellana deconstructs the concept of gender in latest art exhibitionThird-year Master of Fine Arts student Alex Orellana recently debuted their photography exhibit “Middle Child: Photographs by Alex Orellana” at Read…
Because of this sense of inclusion, Gallery Night creates a more welcoming, casual environment for community members to engage in and consume art, making it less of an uptight, stuffy experience, Monroe-Kane said.
While MMoCA is the oldest cultural organization in the area, the museum has always been diligent in catering to the community of the moment since it began 116 years ago, Monroe-Kane said.
“That orientation toward the community has been a part of the museum its entire history,” Monroe-Kane said. “So even though it seems strange being a contemporary art museum that is so old, there’s always current themes, current affairs, current topics and artists creating, and that’s what the museum’s focus is in particular.”
Because the event is not contained in just MMoCA’s building, the contrast between East and West Madison are expressed more fully, speaking to Madison’s “vibrant community.” Willie Street, campus buildings and Monroe Street, amongst others, each have distinct artistic styles and cultures.
“Reflecting the work of contemporary artists and the way that they are exploring the world of issues around them is what we do,” Monroe-Kane said. “Connecting people to artists and art making happens in the museum and in the community.”
While the event is not inherently political, those involved expressed that the event shows the issues and beliefs Madison community members are most concerned with. People are looking for things to be involved with in the community, and art is way to do that — it responds to what is happening in the world, Gallery Night organizer Kaitlin Kropp said.
Gallery Night not only reflects and contributes to Madison’s culture, but leads to a thriving dynamic city economy, Monroe-Kane said. Gallery Night provides accessibility and a marketplace for artists that otherwise wouldn’t be filled, according to Monroe-Kane.
Along with artwork, certain venues also offer live music, food and beverages. Some venues, including Tandom Press and others, even display demonstrations on how their artwork is created, or opportunities for attendees to make artwork themselves. Kropp appreciates that you can be the artist at some of these places.
Gallery Night has persisted as a beloved Madison tradition for 29 years, and continues to grow in size each year. This year’s Spring Gallery Night contains 83 venues, the largest number in the event’s history.
Madison Music Foundry hosts annual student showcase to provide avenues for young musiciansThe Madison Music Foundry’s upcoming annual student showcase will celebrate music education in a time of trouble for the arts. Read…
“Gallery Night has grown so much over the past almost 30 years that people just really want to get involved, and it’s an exciting time to be out and about,” Kropp said.
Spring Gallery Night runs from 5-9 p.m. May 5, so attendees can pick up a free map at participating locations if they wish to plan their time efficiently.