Mile of Music features not only art for the ears, but the eyes, too.
John Adams, coordinator at local galleries The Draw and Feather and Bone, has brought together local artists, as well as artists from Chicago and LA to display their tributes to Appleton native Harry Houdini.
The gallery is located at 233 East College Ave., in the old Harmony Café location downtown Appleton. Twenty-five works of art of all different mediums are showcased.
“I’ve kind of always said that Mile of Music will turn into a cultural festival and have a lot of the arts as opposed to just music. My role is elevating the arts base,” says Adams.
The location of the gallery is significant to Adams because he filmed the recording of Cory Chisel’s first album in the space before it was Harmony Café. Chisel is one of the founders of Mile of Music.
Although the space is primarily for visual art, a few song artists may show up as well.
“We have some friends that are really good and will probably be here and play, but we don’t have anything scheduled,” says Adams.
Houdini in Art is one of two ‘Mile 3’ galleries; the other is Art Alley, located next to the History at the Castle Museum.
Sarah Boge is one of the local artists with a piece in the Houdini in Art gallery.
Boge’s work, entitled “Out of the Box,” is made up of “stacked ceramic modules in an abstract vison of a human.”
Last year, Boge volunteered at Mile of Music by preparing the space for the Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods gallery curated by Adams. She says based on the success of that gallery, she took it for granted that it would happen again.
When Adams put out an open call for art earlier this year, Boge got involved.
“I worked all summer on my piece and it was therapeutic for me because I just came off of a brain injury. It was cool to see it from its inception and work through all the problems associated with the medium to setting it up,” says Boge.
Her use of clay is significant to the theme of ‘Houdini in Art.’
“As I was working, the word ‘metamorphosis’ came to mind and I decided to use clay because it’s very pliable and changes from one form to another,” says Boge.
The majority of the sculpture lacks color, and that’s significant, too.
Boge says, “I was thinking of illusion and the contrast between black and white and what’s there and what isn’t. I think the viewer can find their own interpretation.”
Emily Reetz is another local artist with a piece in the show. She says she’s currently focusing on a series of hand-drawn digital illustrations of “Iconic Appleton.”
“My style might be described as modern storybook, flat, minimalist, idealistic, relatable,” says Reetz.
She, too, was inspired to join the show this year as a result of last year’s Mile of Music pop-up gallery.
“I couldn’t help but kick myself for not getting involved (in last year’s gallery) so I resolved to create something for the 2015 installation,” says Reetz.
For the show, Reetz illustrated the downtown apartment Houdini’s family lived in while they were here.
“I spent time looking through old photos and maps with the curators at the History Museum as references. Young Houdini is positioned in the widow, and the building is placed in Houdini plaza, where it actually stood. Storm clouds are moving into the scene, representing the dark days his family experienced after leaving Appleton,” she says about her piece.
Reetz says that as an “Appleton kid” herself and now a mother of three, Houdini’s childhood in Appleton strikes a chord with her.
“Houdini only lived in Appleton for a few years of his childhood. After leaving town, the remainder of his youth was unstable and poverty stricken. The happy times here must have been formative because he referenced them with fondness the rest of his life. I hope that whatever stormy seasons might lie ahead, my kids will remember this as a great place to grow up, as Houdini did,” says Reetz.
The Houdini in Art gallery is open now through Aug. 9 and admission is free.