'Dark Airing' at ArtStart Rhinelander: The Video!
This fall found me in beautiful Rhinelander Wisconsin at the amazing ArtStart art center and galleries. If you have not heard of this place: it’s an amazing hidden gem. If you were to drive through town you would probably think: ‘This is a really nice summer vacation spot’, or: ‘Wow these people are obsessed with a mythical beast called the Hodag.”
You would be right on both counts, but you probably wouldn’t think: ‘This town probably has an amazing art center that is dedicated to promoting and funding cutting-edge contemporary art”: You would be wrong about that last one!
I found out about ArtStart when my wife, the intrepid installation maven Liz Miller, participated in a great group show put together by the equally amazing Michael Velliquette. That exhibition, ‘A Tiny Rivulet in the Forest’, introduced me to the ambition and energy of ArtStart. I was blown away by the breadth of the work, the level of artists culled for the show, and the energy and enthusiasm of the staff and patrons. I had definitely underestimated this town and its commitment to the arts!
After the reception, the artists and staff gathered for dinner. Exhibition coordinator Laura Ehmann asked me what kind of work I made, I showed her some images from ‘Mirror Stage’, and the rest is history! For a while the ArtStart team had wanted to try a full-gallery installation, and I became the guinea pig for that effort! For my own part, this became an opportunity for me to experiment with an idea I’d had for a while but couldn’t find the right venue to pursue: A full-gallery black-lit installation.
One wonderful result of this collaboration is the video document Artstart commissioned for the show. The 5 minute film, created by multimedia creator and producer Nate Sheppard, is a great way for those who were unable to attend the exhibition to experience the space and atmosphere of the show—particularly the amazing soundtrack created by Chicago experimental musician and long-time collaborator Nathan Tolzmann. The video doubles as a promotion tool for ArtStart’s new Installation art initiative!
Artstart showed further openness to risk-taking and innovation when they allowed me to have Nathan come and perform the soundtrack live at the opening reception. Although live music is a central component of arts programming at the center, this was the first time it had been incorporated directly into an visual art event. We were proud again to be the test subjects!
I just took the show down last weekend, after a stuffed-to-the-gills final event in which the local historical societies, the library and a good amount of the town folk came to find out about and share stories of the ‘Hobo Jungle’ that existed in Rhinelander before World War II. It was amazingly cool to think my show had inspired this surge of interest in local history!
Throughout the run of Dark Airing. I continued to be impressed by Artstart’s staff, resources and promotion, and the enthusiastic participation of the locals in their art and culture events. I sincerely hope there is an opportunity down the road to work with these people again! Until then, I can’t wait for the Haitian art exhibition they have on deck for the Spring!