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This September, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art spotlights 40 of Wisconsin's most innovative artists, from established names like Charles Munch to graduate students at UW-Madison.

Culled from a pool of 530 applicants and 113 subsequent studio visits, participants in the 2013 Wisconsin Triennial include UW-Madison performance artists, photographers from Appleton and a video team from Milwaukee. The goal of the exhibition, held every three years, is to highlight both rising stars and well-known artists who are trying something new.

"I'm excited about everybody," said MMoCA director Stephen Fleischman. "They wouldn't be in the show if we weren't excited about them." 

Among the artists Fleischman is most looking forward to are Milwaukee sculptor Jason Yi, who is set to install a "mountain" made of orange plastic fencing in the MMoCA galleries. Fleischman is also fascinated by Gabriel Pionkowski, a recent UW-Madison MFA grad who works with canvas in an unusual way.

"He takes canvases and deconstructs them," Fleischman said. He "pulls every thread apart in the canvas, and then paints the canvas thread by thread, immerses the canvas in paint. Then he takes a loom and weaves the painting back together."

Milwaukee artist Eduardo (Eddie) Villaneuva, who was in the 2010 Triennial as a student, is set to make a site-specific piece for the front entrance. His work is often boldly colorful and architectural, with a look of composed chaos. Iraq war veteran Ash Kyrie takes inspiration from media representations of the war he experienced.

Kyrie, a Madison artist, "blows (war photos) up to a large scale, and then he and members of the viewing audience actually strip away layers of the photographic image that collect on the floor underneath the piece," Fleischman said. "It has to do with the disconnect between actually experiencing something and seeing a photograph on the subject — sort of the layers of memory that fall away."

Photographer Paul Baker Prindle, until recently the director of the Edgewood College galleries, made a series of seemingly innocuous, even idyllic scenes. Jarringly for the viewer, each title refers to a horrifying hate crime that happened at or near that spot. 

Fitchburg painter Teresa Getty uses mixed media to do expressive abstraction; recent UW-Madison graduate Benjamin Grant makes "optical paintings." Fleischman is excited to see the work of Milwaukee video/photography team Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg "in the flesh." 

One new face is installation artist and recent MFA Justin Bitner, who is making a piece with televisions and video projections. On one side, Fleischman explained, is "static ... digital nothingness," like what you hear when a TV can't tune to a station. On the other side is a pristine digital waterfall. The viewer crosses between them.

Rounding out the show are established artists, like Munch, Fred Stonehouse, Tom Loeser (the current chair of the UW-Madison Art Department) and Derrick Buisch, who is creating a mural for the new Central Library. As the duo "Spatula & Barcode," UW-Madison professors Michael Peterson and Laurie Beth Clark plan to take performance to cafes around the city. 

The Triennial opens on Saturday, Sept. 21. See a map of where the artists are from and find out more at mmoca.org. A list of all the artists is below:

  • Robert Atwell (Menomonie), painting
  • Paul Baker Prindle (Milwaukee), photography
  • Michael Beitz (Oshkosh), wood and sculpture
  • Justin Bitner (Madison), multimedia installation
  • Tyanna Buie (Milwaukee), printmaking
  • Derrick Buisch (Madison), painting
  • James Cagle (Sturgeon Bay), photography
  • Jill Casid (Madison), photography
  • Tony Conrad (Appleton), painting
  • Carl Corey (Hudson), photography
  • Santiago Cucullu (Milwaukee), site-specific multimedia installation
  • Kristy Deetz (De Pere), painting
  • Sarah FitzSimons (Madison), textiles and sculpture
  • Teresa Getty (Fitchburg), painting
  • Lisa Gralnick (Madison), ceramic sculpture
  • Benjamin Grant (Madison), painting
  • Kimberly Greene (Kenosha), ceramic sculpture
  • Stephen Hilyard (Madison), photography and video
  • John Hitchcock (Madison), printmaking
  • Chele Isaac (Madison), multimedia installation
  • Richard Knight (Milwaukee), site-specific installation
  • Debbie Kupinsky and Craig Clifford (Appleton), ceramic and found object installation
  • Ash Kyrie (Madison), photography and installation
  • Gina Litherland (Cedarburg), painting
  • Thomas Loeser and Bird Ross (Madison), wood sculpture
  • Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg (Milwaukee), photography and video
  • Kevin Miyazaki (Wauwatosa), photography and art book
  • Nancy Mladenoff (Madison), painting
  • Charles Munch (Lone Rock), painting
  • Jill Olm (Eau Claire), drawing
  • Gabriel Pionkowski (Madison), painting and textiles
  • Paul Sacaridiz (Madison), ceramic and mixed-media sculpture
  • Shimon and Lindemann (Appleton), photography
  • Spatula & Barcode (Madison), performance (Laurie Beth Clark and Michael Peterson)
  • Fred Stonehouse (Slinger), painting
  • Jose Carlos Teixeira (Madison), video and performance
  • Lynn Tomaszewski (Milwaukee), interactive multimedia installation
  • Jason Vaughn (Madison), photography
  • Eduardo Villanueva (Milwaukee), site specific mixed media installation
  • Jason Yi (Milwaukee), sculpture
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Since 2008, Lindsay Christians has been writing about fine arts and food for The Capital Times. She loves eating at the bar, going to the theater, fine wine and good stories. She lives on the east side with her husband, two cats and too many cookbooks.

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