Online art galleries have become more common as both the digital world and art world seek to expand their reach. While most online galleries allow buyers access to collections curated based on prices or mediums, Hasbrook Galleries focuses instead on curating art from local Madison artists.

Founders John and Katherine Giesa are siblings from Milwaukee who sought to provide up and coming artists a platform for their work while focusing on the culture of art instead of its price.

John, a senior at the University of Wisconsin, was inspired to start a gallery of his own after exploring the art scenes of both Milwaukee and Madison. Upon sharing this idea with his sister Katherine, the two set out developing a one of a kind online gallery from the ground up.

Surprisingly, the two admitted that it wasn’t until Katherine graduated from Vassar College and moved to Madison for work that they finally became close friends instead of mere siblings. Hasbrook Galleries has allowed them to further this relationship into something quite “serendipitous” as Katherine  put it, focusing their energies on bringing greater insight to the power of art and its ability to influence the world while reflecting it all the same.

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“How we curate the show creates the story in itself” the duo mentioned in our interview. The Giesas spoke mostly about the process of curation that they go through when deciding which pieces to show next. In the spirit of discovering new artists and styles, John said he frequents the art department at UW in search of student’s work that may fit the gallery’s current theme.

Both siblings work within their social networks to connect with different local artists or galleries, emphasizing that it takes a “community effort to show community artwork.” 

John went on to explain that each piece takes skill to properly photograph after it’s found. He typically spends multiple hours working to find the best conditions to represent a piece so that the viewer’s experience is as close to reality as possible while online.

Katherine, on the other hand, spends her time working on the technical aspects of the gallery, complimenting her brother’s business and outreach skills to combine their mutual love of art in an impactful way.

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The current show on display was curated based on the theme of “Sociological Figurations,” combining the works of eight local artists. The most recent show features each piece of art accompanied by a statement from the artist who created it. While the art itself makes the gallery worth looking at, the statements given by these artists deepen the meaning of their work, connecting each individual piece back to the theme as a whole. One statement that evokes the theme of “Sociological Figurations” best is for Devon Hatton’s untitled work.

Courtesy of Devon Hatton

“This piece of Devon’s is a vignette of intimacy that expose a battle between self-preservation and self-destruction. She concentrates on the struggle of uncontrollable mental illness and invisible burdens in day-to-day life. Her obsessive and repetitive methods of drawing act as therapy — a purging of silent afflictions. The drawings become recurring ghost images weaving in and out of reality — a mixture of clarity and confusion with the figure and space sometimes becoming a single entity. Empathy and familiarity play an important role, as the discussion of internal battles is both universal and extremely private.”

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While this is just one way “Sociological Figurations” is examined through the current display, Hatton’s piece exposes the difference between traditional gallery pieces and those found on display at Hasbrook Galleries, emphasizing a genuine connection through the artist’s words that speak volumes to the meaning of their work. 

Their next show will be curated by the theme of showing art as it is, not by a particular dominating rhetoric.

In the future, John and Katherine hope to continue providing exposure for lesser-known artists and expand their audience along with the gallery format itself.

Luckily, every exhibit done by Hasbrook Galleries will stay displayed on their website, which John and Katherine hope will contribute to building a strong foundation for the up and coming artists in Madison, acting as a permanent portfolio and database to pull from.