Art is subjective, thought-provoking and somehow surpasses its inanimate state to be wise and moving. We’re lucky to have an abundance of such art in the Fox Cities.
Below, local aficionados reveal their Artists to Watch in 2023:
Solon Lalas, “1:yuro”
Nominated by Mia Russell, Fine Artist and Creative Entrepreneur: When I first viewed Solon’s work, it encouraged me to slow down and invited me to look deeper. His paintings elude understanding, and any search for meaning within them can detract from the viewing experience. They allow the viewer the pleasure of asking more than telling.
Upon completing his Fine Arts degree in Athens, Greece, Solon relocated to the Fox Cities. He began tattooing about 4 years ago; and while there are other talented tattooists in the area, Solon’s style is distinct and impassioned. As with his paintings, his use of color is subtle but effective. Solon says that he creates because he feels the need to, and that comes through when I engage with his work, it’s almost as if you can see the spiritual forces that went into creating it.
From 1:yuro: As an artist, I try not to limit myself to only one thing. Besides painting and drawing, the past few years I have gotten into tattooing as well. I try and focus on my own drawings when tattooing people, after all that’s what got me into tattooing in the first place. The idea of my own drawings on someone forever is a unique feeling that can’t be found anywhere else. I find that I work best when I don’t think about it too much. Most of my work is made quick and with a more simple approach to it. I do like using symbolism and human figures to portray my own thoughts and emotions.
I like working at a quick pace, I find it easier sometimes to make first and think later. My main goal is not necessarily to connect with any viewer but to connect with what I’m doing and how I feel in the moment and to channel that into hopefully something beautiful, but most times not.
Nominated by David Graham and Terri Warpinski, artists/owners/curators of newARTSpace in De Pere: Granted rare access to the life’s work of Dennis Bauer—with almost 70 years of his art bursting from every shelf, stairwell and corner of the home he and his family have lived in since 1962—we did not think anything could surprise us by the time we sat down in his studio to look at his most recent work. For Bauer, the time that coincided with the pandemic reignited his interest in drawing. He revisited drawings begun a very long time ago, and embarked on creating new ones. These lively visual structures bounce and vibrate with energy. They are agile and dexterous, and sometimes, they are downright boisterous! These deft constructions fusing collage and drawing exude with the confidence of a wise elder and the wit and capriciousness of a spritely elf. These drawings break old rules yet create new ones. Most importantly, this new work by Dennis Bauer does what art must do—it demands that we check the status quo and tread into the unknown, to discover and explore uncharted territory, and to ask, ‘Why not?’
From The Bauer Family: Dennis’ work is a great example of a unique artistic expression originating in the Midwest; specifically, the Chicago Art Institute of the early ‘60s. These recent drawings are only the tip of an iceberg. Beneath lay metalwork, ceramics, films, muscle cars and even parade floats! Like his Art school cohorts; the Chicago Imagists; commonly divided between the Monster Roster and Hairy Who? two collectives of notoriety. He invokes in his work a lot of mischief. Awkward gaFFes, flubs and foh-pawz. Influential in a more insidious way than his art school training was the satire of Lenny Bruce and Redd Foxx, the black progenitors of the blues found husking on Maxwell Street, flea markets, and amusement parks; all the while dodging gangs and gangsters and riding the EL!
Nominated by Eric Miller, owner of Foxleys Art and Framing in Appleton: When people ask me about Bruce and his incredible photographs, I like to tell them that he reminds me of the National Geographic photographers. Bruce goes beyond the visual aspect of his photos, he enjoys educating the viewer by explaining the who, what, where, when and how the images came about.
Bruce has the uncanny ability of putting himself in the right place at the right time. Whether he’s on the shores of Lake Michigan during the late spring blizzard of 2018, waiting outside in his foul weather gear to capture the Sheboygan Lighthouse fully engulfed in frigid water until the (lighthouse) ultimately disappears or driving through a national park only to come upon a rarely seen event of a bear chasing an elk down a mountain and into a lake. Or, traveling up to Door County and walking through the woods at 3:00 in the morning to capture an image of a comet in the night’s sky.
Bruce is constantly looking for more natural beauty that he can share with us. His travels and the photographs that he captures are like a window where we can go to get a glimpse of nature that we don’t always have a chance to see.
From Danz: Nature, including landscape, wildlife and night skies are my primary photographic subjects. With wildlife photography, I am most interested in showing animal behavior, both physical and emotional, as well as their environment. I want the viewer to feel a connection with wildlife, and realize we share needs and desires in common. With landscape photography my goal is to show the beauty of things we might overlook or not appreciate. Fall colors, moving water and winter scenes are among my favorite subjects. With night sky photography, by using longer exposures, I am showing the magnificence of what is in front of us at all times, but just beyond the reach of our vision. To the naked eye we might see a multitude of stars in a dark sky or the faint green glow of an aurora. The camera can take us far beyond that, exposing us to the wonderful details and colors of our galaxy and auroras.
On a personal level, I look upon photography as my “gratitude tool.” The goal of making a photograph often leads me to places that I wouldn’t otherwise go, and often in seasons and times of the day I wouldn’t otherwise experience. Photography moves me to seek out the best light and composition, and in the case of wildlife, their most interesting behaviors. By actively practicing “seeing,” I gain appreciation for what I am photographing. Appreciation leads to gratitude. From gratitude, arises a desire to share what has been revealed, as well as a desire for natural preservation. The overall goal is to encourage in others the same feelings that I am experiencing. I believe a photographer of nature has a duty to be a preservationist and educator, as well as an artist.
Nominated by Emma Hitzman, Curator of Art Lawton Gallery at UW-Green Bay: Lydia Dildilian’s enchanting paintings, drawings, and collages are as thought provoking as they are beautiful. Intricate line work and vivid colors converge into dreamlike geographies of the future. With a combination of reality and the fantastic, Dildilian gives the viewer a sense of being in a glitch in a First-Person Shooter game, floating safely above the violence. This feeling of safety is only broken by the unsettling eerie that emanates from each panel. Her richly layered work sparks feelings of mania, overloading the viewer with found landscapes, motifs from social media clips, and schematics. While simultaneously lulling you into a state of scrolling.
From Dildilian: Ricocheting between paintings, drawings, collages, assemblages, photography, and sculptures describe my inescapable frenzied state of making: the mania of now. Google news feeds, late-night talk show supercuts, trending tweets, and algorithmically manipulated content creators on YouTube or TikTok bombard us with a deluge of simultaneously random and curated content. Rich with excitement, surprise, and even purpose, the information builds and compounds, overloading the senses with some new demonstrative act of everyday violence, the next natural disaster, ineffectual branches of government, or celebrity gossip obsessed with Kim K’s newest outfit. Appropriating motifs from social media clips, pop culture, and schematics, my work asks viewers to interrogate how imagery and information are processed. These psychological infiltrations of technological residue impact our fears, our dreams, and realities with unimaginably complex methods.
Nominated by Linda Schrage, owner of Mud and Prints LLC in Appleton: When I first opened the Studio// Gallery I attended and showed at the Trout Members Show. My attention was grabbed by this one abstract artists’ work. I asked the curator to give my card to this person with hopes of having their work at Mud and Prints Studio//Gallery. Patt’s work is fresh and unlike any other artist there that night. I was fortunate that she did call me, and I do have work of hers in the Gallery. Patt’s work is notice by everyone that stops in. She out sells every painter I have on display here.
Patt is a warm, creative soul that sees a painting everywhere she looks. She has taught her techniques to other young painters. She is a very down to earth person and fun to work with. If you haven’t seen any of her work, you must.
From Huss: Art speaks to me more than words as I search for meaning and purpose in every mark I make. It’s exhilarating when I feel I can convey this to the viewer of my work. My art is inspired by natural elements and spiritual images. A spiritual element is often found within each painting. The creative process is mostly intuitive, starting with an idea for subject matter and emotion. The piece can change throughout the process. Flowing water or figures emerge when least expected. That to me makes the painting exciting. Seeking the unknown—where will that take me—let the mind wander on…
Oil and cold wax applications allow me to compile layer upon layer, creating texture, creative intentional marks starting with an idea for subject matter and selected color. The layers are often heavy textural strokes, light transparent layers, scratched, dissolved and aged, mark making, adding and subtracting. Working on multiple paintings at a time allows me to step back and figure out what needs to be added or diminished. When I revisit the piece, I sit quietly and mentally focus to see, to feel. I squint to see value and shape, what needs to go and what needs to be added for excitement. I have renewed vision to add another dimension if need be, covering up, digging out, scrapping back layers to reveal what lies beneath, adding depth and meaning. Composition is a vital part of each piece. I enjoy evoking emotion and thought for myself and the viewer. Painting is a pleasure that gives me purpose.