Standing proudly along the Fox River, perhaps you’ve noticed the gray, rectangular building on South Lawe Street with a sweeping white bird holding a pencil in its beak painted on its street side face. This building is called The Draw, and it’s a new event venue, gallery, collaboration place, and studio space in the Appleton art scene. I recently attended an art show here and it definitely drew me in.
June 16 was the night of ART SHOW, curated by Julia Blair, at The Draw. The event featured art from six different local artists, as well as music from three Wisconsin groups.
“The show came about when Tonbi Claw (Milwaukee) told me they were heading on tour and wanted help setting up a show in Appleton,” says Blair. “I asked Dusk to play to round out the more rock & roll side of Tonbi Claw’s spectrum… I invited artists whose work I liked and also whose work I hadn’t seen up in Appleton ever – or in a long time – and then we had a show!”
With art up on every wall available in the one room gallery space, the first band began performing with the golden hour sunset coming through the windows. This group, We Go From Where We Know, was comprised of Lawrence University professors and Blair herself.
Their set, mostly improvised and instrumental, included the following instruments: accordion, harp, cello, guitar, didgeridoo, conch shell, voice, a whisk and pot, a megaphone and a cell phone. If I had not known that I was at an art show right down the street from Lawrence, I would have known after this performance. It was incredibly, what one might say, hipster and very cool to watch.
Tonbi Claw and Dusk performed second and third, providing the audience with rock & roll vibes and arty light projections (by Cyber Bullies) into the night.
The art (and artists) that accompanied these performances, on the wall and around the gallery, included photographs (Jesse Ponkamo and Matt Stranger), sculpture (Claire Abitz), paintings (Mike Henderson), lithographs (Chris Dom) and woodblock prints (Chris Dom).
What stood out to me at this art show was the casual atmosphere mixed with a serious support of these artists. People were hanging out outside and inside, drinking beer, wine or water. The show was free with a suggested donation, and I saw many donations being given.
The show demonstrated to me the fine arts thriving in the community. I see the fine arts thriving continuously at Lawrence, but to see this kind of show and support off of the Lawrence campus was really refreshing.
The putting together of this show was also unique in that “there was no theme of any kind,” explains Blair. “Usually there’s some sort of aesthetic or philosophical connection between works, but not this time. Just art I liked and wanted to see up on the walls.” This informality translated well, making for a very positive first experience at The Draw.
The art from ART SHOW will stay up in the gallery through the end of June. Be sure to go check it out this week! Look out for more shows coming to The Draw, as well, and learn more on their website: thedrawappleton.com.