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“Spring wears stilettos on winter’s back” -- Josie Rodriguez

Burning Man Alex Mandli

From Texas To The Midwest

By Brent Mitchell

chris deguire

Confessions of a Crazy Collector Serving The Creative Communities From Chicago To Milwaukee

Free! Issue 4

Ebb and Flow: Judith Geichman, Jessica O’Hearn, and Octaviano Rangel Comic Landslide, 60” x 60”, Acrylic, enamel on canvas, 2013

Caged, H 10 x W 15” x D 9”, Wire and felt, 2013

The larger movements of the natural landscape often are depicted in art as aesthetic notations for pastoral, sublime or utopian ideals of human projection. The more immediate sensations of touch, smell, sound, and taste revive a specificity of place in the paintings and drawings of internationally known and award winning artists Judith Geichman (Chicago) and Octaviano Rangel (Mexico). Also featured are the sculpture installations of emerging artist Jessica O’Hearn (Milwaukee). The works in this exhibit contain large gestures, pools of color, striations of gray, and layers of form that contribute to a poetics of ebb and flow.

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 8, 2014, 1-4 p.m. Exhibit Runs: February 6 to March 21, 2014 Untitled, 11” x 14”, Acrylic on paper, 2004

Chance Aesthetics: Clarence Morgan and Zack Wirsum • April 1 – May 3, 2014 For more information on upcoming events, visit Gallery hours: Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. • Thursday Evening 6 – 8 p.m. • Saturday 1 – 4 p.m.

Comic Landslide courtesy of Judith Geichman and Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago • Caged courtesy of Jessica O’Hearn and Packer Schopf Gallery, Chicago • Untitled courtesy of Octaviano Rangel

A Message From The Publisher By Chet Griffith

Congratulations! The muse called and you had the courage to answer. Whether you responded with paints, words, chords or choreography is irrelevant – the important thing is that you are creating. You are a creative. Go ahead and wear that badge proudly. Membership comes with a myriad of benefits including doubt, disappointment, massive peer ego, rejection and failure. But you knew that. Yet, you press on.

I’ve spoken with scores of artists who’ve expressed regret over never “making it”. They are surprised to learn just how important they are to their communities and how influential their work is to the next generation of artists. I’m humbly suggesting that you not lose sight of how marvelous a lifetime of art making is, and that it can be created right here in your own backyard. You dig?

So there you are, toiling away, making stuff, preparing to share your genius with the rest of the world, and it hits. The cruelest side effect of all, chasing better. You adjust your black beret, stroke your goatee, and down your cup of black coffee. “Man,” you say, “this town’s a drag. If I could just get into a cool Milwaukee gallery, life would be great.” So you work hard, you apply, and land a good Milwaukee gallery. It doesn’t take long before that impatient voice returns. “Man, Milwaukee is bummin’ me out. It would be so much better if I could get into a cool Chicago gallery.” And so it begins. This isn’t about artistic aspiration or vigorously pursuing your dreams; it has to do with the culture of failure that is pervasive in the artist community. It has to do with what happens next: we become focused on that chasing better. We forget how much we love drawing, writing or playing the guitar. It becomes about money and fame and no longer about the really good, important stuff; community, fulfillment and happiness.

Left of the Lake is: Publisher: Chet Griffith Graphics: Joshua Frazer Edits: Lisa Adamowicz Kless & Peg Rousar-Thompson Organization: John Bloner Contact Us At:

4  A Message From The Publisher / Left of The Lake

Left of the Lake Issue 4

From Texas To The Midwest I Have A Bad Feeling About This Burning Man Comics Dennis Bayuzick / Genesis Crowd Funding Expect More From Your Décor Chet Griffith / The Message Not To Say Naked Is Free In The Studio Jessica Z Schafer / Threshold 2FL: Intriguer Bailey Shaye / Raven Kim Guisti / Apple Submission Information

Stephen Alcala is a fledgling  hyper-realist. Having established a  name for himself in his hometown  of Houston, he has set out to  broaden his artistic horizons in the  Midwest, creating new pieces that  conceptualize his view of personal  identity. 

Cover Photo Credits: Kevin Poirier

06 11 16 21 23 27 28 30 31 32 33 35 36 38 39

Cover: Stephen Alcala

“Immersion” Prismacolor 2014 14’’ x 21’’

*Items in Red Denote Artist Features

FROM TEXAS TO THE MIDWEST SONGS STIR COMMUNITY GROWTH By Brent Mitchell Is there something in the waters of the Rio Grande, as it runs from the San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, which helps Texas singer-songwriters, including Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, and Roy Orbison, to not only create great music but highlight the Lone Star State as an economic engine fueled by homegrown melodies? Kenosha’s Brent Mitchell, an ace singer-songwriter and guitarist, knows a thing or two about Texas and has an answer. Brent hails from the town of Denton, just north of Dallas, and has seen that town’s economy and quality of life enriched by its music scene. When he’s not singing his own tunes in a warm tenor, he’s championing original music and its financial and cultural impact. What has worked for Denton, Texas, he proposes, can also work for Kenosha, Wisconsin and its surrounding area. A city that is only slightly larger than Kenosha, Denton generates tens of mil-

lions of dollars each year, almost entirely from its homegrown music scene, where musicians play their own songs every night across town. Match this artistic momentum of over 100 working bands with a cooperative promotional infrastructure, add a community’s appetite for songs that come from the souls of local musicmakers, and you’ll find substantial profits for businesses, musicians and the municipality. “Texans are fiercely proud of and loyal to Texas singer-songwriters because Texans root their sense of personal and collective identity in their music,” Brent says. “They create the soundtrack to people’s lives.They are a psychological and spiritual power station for Texans. People know it and are happy to pay for it.” Brent believes a similar economic and cultural ecosystem could be cultivated here. He calls on several important elements for it to occur.

6  From Texas To The Midwest / Left of The Lake

A critical ingredient is original songs. “Bands that play pop hits and oldies are inconsequential for these kinds of opportunities,” Mitchell adds. “Only our original, regional music can return promotional investments and create significant profits.” Also needed are venues that support this music. The city’s 35 Denton four-day festival brings in about $25 million per year, pays its local/ regional musicians, and not only puts them on the same stages as the national acts, it places them in prime time-slots. Most of 35 Denton’s income stays in the Denton area, because the performers and the people who work behindthe-scenes are native to the region. Promotion is critical, too. Local elected officials and leaders from business, institutional and artist communities are called upon to work together to recruit festival organizers, radio stations, newspapers, booking agents, and potential sponsors to showcase and support local music as an important part of our culture. The stirrings of this movement can be heard in our area’s restaurants and bars, at outdoor festivals and markets, in theaters and on school stages. But it needs to get louder. It needs to be organized and championed. It needs musicians and their communities to recognize that it makes sense, as well as dollars and cents. For more information on music as a tool for urban redevelopment, read Michael Seman’s article on the Omaha Slowdown Project, available at his website, Also online, check out “What if Hewlett and Packard had started a band instead?” which examines the economic impact of Denton’s music scene.

Texas native, singer-songwriter, Brent  Mitchell resides in Kenosha with his  wife and children. He’s recorded three  CDs, and his trio, featuring Paul Emersun, bass, and Brian Ford, drums, will  soon release a new recording. He’s at  work on many other projects, including  a CD of songs for children and one that  features solo vocal and guitar. He also  paints, sculpts, writes poetry and studies  theology. “Theology is most often the  locus of my visual art, my music, and my  poetry,” he says.

Left of The Lake / From Texas To The Midwest 7


HM 9–1

R C forthe A

  St. • Downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin

Every Saturday through May 10, 2014

(Closed on Dec. ,  & Jan. , )

Produce, Cheese, Meats, Pastry, Fresh Mushrooms, Chips, Chocolate, Unique Arts & Crafts, Soaps, Prepared Foods, Live Music, and More

T H M  A

Every Saturday — 9–2 May   O. , 

A E-S M   V S

 Farm fresh produce  Unique arts and crafts  Meats, eggs, vegetables, fish, cheeses  Fresh baked goods and savory snacks

A  M I W 2 Ave. between 54th & 56th St. and Place de Douai

HarborPark • Kenosha, Wisconsin


6-9 PM

JAN 3-FEB 22


Schedule changes can occur throughout the year, please confirm with RAC.

Racine Camera Club

Since 1938 RCC has been promoting all aspects of photography through discussion, exhibitions, lectures, Sponsor: programs and competitions. Exhibit highlights current Donald & Gabriella Klein member's work.

MARCH 7-APRIL 26 Sponsor:

MAY 2-JUNE 28 Sponsor:

Alternative Firing Techniques Racine County Potters Diane Caron, Mark Hyde, Tony Macias, Alex Mandli, Kevin Pearson, Jeff Shawhan and Mary Spengler. Exhibit coincides with NCECA 2014, 48th Annual Conference in Milwaukee.

Time Share:

Gallery Swap RAC and Frank Juarez Gallery, Sheboygan

FJ Gallery @ RAC: Brandon Bauer, Tony Conrad, Melissa Dorn Richards, and William Zuback. RAC @ FJ Gallery: Jerry Belland, Jane Cascio, Joe Church, Doug Devinny, Maureen Fritchen, Samira Gdisis, Alexander Mandli, Dan Nielsen, Suellyn Scoon and Maggie Venn.

Monthly Performance Series

usually (but not always) held on the fourth Saturday of the month

Grassroots Wednesday’s Open Mic ALL AGES & ALL GENRES WELCOME! Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday

316 Sixth Street, Racine, WI 53403 | 262.635.0261 |

i have a bad feeling about this

or confessions of a crazy collector

An Excerpt from The upcoming book by Chris DeGuire My first action figure was R2-D2, the barrelshaped little droid that speaks in beeps and whistles. My brother, Greg, two years younger, got C-3PO, who translates for R2 and is more humanoid in form. I don’t remember buying them, so they were probably bought by my parents, who, I am sure, in 1978, had no idea what they had gotten me in to. With two action figures to play with there wasn’t much Greg and I could do except have them walk around and get them into adventures. We didn’t play Star Wars with any of our other toys, so Artoo and Threepio didn’t run into our dinosaurs or GI Joes. Our imaginations just didn’t work like that. And since both were robots, although good guys, they really couldn’t battle evil anyways.

As an eight year old I wanted to relive the movie, pretend I was Luke Skywalker or Han Solo or even Darth Vader. I had the novel version, with George Lucas credited as the author. I had bubble gum trading cards and maybe some magazines. But these were the days way before VCRs, so the only way to relive these experiences was to go back to the theaters. And in those days, again before things like multiplexes, movies that were successful stayed in theaters a lot longer. I was drawn to the movie, like most people, I suppose, to the timeless story elements and the fantastic characters. I like to credit the worlds created by George Lucas for my wanting to be a writer and tell stories. Toy company, Kenner, acquired the rights to Lucas’ film, but toy tie-ins to movies historically tanked, so nothing was ready when the movie was released in May of 1977. And then the movie exploded, and kids wanted stuff. Kenner rushed out some puzzles and games, but no toys. Around Christmastime in 1977 they had what was called an “early bird” set. A certificate could be purchased for the first four

Left of The Lake / I Have A Bad Feeling About This... 11

action figures and those with this certificate were promised first crack when they came out. As a kid, how would you like to have gotten a certificate promising toys later? Strangely enough, it worked, and Kenner sold a lot of those certificates. Twelve action figures were released initially. These are generally referred to as the “fourinch” action figures, although some are shorter and some are taller, depending on the height of the character. They came on thin cardboard “cards,” maybe about 8 x 10, with a photo of the character on the front next to the figure, which sat in a clear plastic bubble. On the back were pictures of the other figures and the first ships and vehicles.The original twelve were Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, Darth

Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, a stormtrooper, a death squad commander, a Tusken raider, and a Jawa. Details on the figures were not always precise - Luke had a yellow lightsaber when it was blue in the movie, and sculpting processes were very limited, such as the stormtrooper’s head being molded to the torso with no mobility. But they were toys.

Chris teaches fiction workshops at   Columbia College Chicago and has  been published in Hair Trigger and  F-Magazine. He hosts the radio show,  Speaking of our Words, which features local writers and can be heard on  WGTD 91.1 HD3. His memoir, I Have a Bad Feeling About This, about his collection of everything Star Wars, will be  out from Wicker Park Press in 2014.

12  I Have A Bad Feeling About This... / Left of The Lake

Photography: Dan Bishop

Discover America’s Largest Craft Collection Learn more about current RAM art exhibitions and events at Racine Art Museum 441 Main Street, Downtown Racine


By Peg Rousar-Thompson When I paint something blue, I like to come back the next day and find it, well, still blue, and not a lovely mottled gray or streaked with subtle copper. Some call me a control freak.

– wood shavings, garden clippings, shredded mail. Pots are packed inside saggars, slightly larger, protective pots made from a different type of clay, just for the firing process.

It’s just the opposite with potter, Alex Mandli.

So, a pot within a pot. Packed with what most people would call garbage. Cooking away in a grassy field in Racine County, inside a kiln that Alex has fashioned from castoffs. And from this comes art. And some curious, encroaching neighbors.

He looks forward to these varied surprises, collaborating with both fire and natural materials, making each piece of pottery he creates distinctive. I think it’s that enthusiasm for the surprise that sets his work apart. When I met Alex at Hidden Studios Art Tour in Central Wisconsin last fall and when he mentioned hauling his pots out into the countryside and setting them on fire – I was intrigued. I don’t like surprises, but I do enjoy a good fire. I pestered him to take me along. Alex uses a primitive form of firing for his pottery. Based on Native American and African pit firing, he uses both a plain barrel and a cobbled-together kiln made from donor parts. The barrel relies on the combustible materials surrounding the pots for fuel, while the kiln is connected to a propane flame. Each are carefully and precisely stacked with pots that are then surrounded with those natural materials 16  Burning Man / Left of The Lake

I spent a morning in Alex’s studio where he explained his current process. He threw a pot for me on an elevated potter’s wheel, his years of experience making it look incredibly easy. From this first moment, I realized that each choice he makes increases the variables. The clay, the thickness of the pot, the amount of water used – all affect the finished piece. Once dry, the fragile pot is burnished with a flat stone, giving it a smooth, almost leathery feel. This surface treatment makes the pot more receptive to the fumes from the natural materials during firing. Alternating coats of terra sigillata (a fine-particle, liquid slip) with more burnishing, and the pots are finally fired at a low-temp in his studio kiln. This low-temp firing will amplify the colors from the pending saggar firing. At this point, the pots are a pristine satin white and ready to be driven out in the county for

their final firing. Of course, it’s that final firing that is the biggest variable. The unpredictability of the flames, the straw, paper and hardwoods that are layered with the pottery, mixed with our uncertain Wisconsin weather – all work to make this the challenge Alex loves. The fire is lit, the perfect temperature reached, the barrel is covered, and Alex has 18-20 hours of waiting. And this is where I can’t bear to look. This labor-intensive process, those perfect white pots that had their own certain beauty – could all be lost to the fire. This is where I would develop an ulcer and Alex views it more like Christmas. The next day when the pots are unpacked, the ash is washed away and they are dried for a full week. Once they are polished, they have a luster that I first mistook for glaze.

Left of The Lake / Burning Man 17

Seeing the finished pots with their individual patterns and unique colors makes me revel in the fact that we’re not all control freaks. Alex Mandli takes clay and trash and a few old kiln components, mixes them with risk, and creates something stunning. You can see Alex’s extraordinary work at Racine Art Council’s show: Alternative Firing Techniques – Racine County Potters 316 6th Street in Racine March 7th through April 26th. Also featured are local potters, Diane Caron, Mark Hyde, Tony Macias, Kevin Pearson, Jeff Shawhan, and Mary Spengler. This exhibit coincides with the National Council for Education and Ceramic Arts 48th National Conference, March 19-22nd, WisPhoto Credits: William Dombrowski, William Lemke, Peg Rousar-Thompson

18  Title / Left of The Lake

consin Center, in Milwaukee. Simultaneous shows will run at RAM in Racine, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan. Please check out Alex’s informative website:

Left of The Lake / Title 19

COMICS John Bloner Jr.

Friends Forever / Josh Frazer

Justin Ludeman

Dennis Bayuzick / Genesis  23

26  Title / Left of The Lake

Crowd funding What Is It? How Can Artists Use It? By Anne Morse Hambrock The latest buzz in fundraising for creative projects is something called crowd funding. Two hot platforms for such fundraising are Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

know you and want you to succeed and don’t care much about rewards, and strangers who like being part of something interesting and getting cool stuff.

Crowd funding is not really new. PBS and NPR have been using it for years. What has changed is that small operations and even individual people can now raise money for their projects.

•  Set an attainable dollar amount. Most crowd funding is all or nothing. If you fall short and do not reach your stated goal, you do not get any of the money.

Crowd Funding Basic Formula: •  Define your project. It could be an album, a book, an invention, any creative project that has a beginning, middle and end. It is best if it results in a tangible thing like a book.

Crowd funding is a fantastic tool for artists and there are many websites that can offer you advice on how to use these platforms successfully. Be sure to look at as many of them as you can, but also try to get in touch with people who have actually run successful campaigns and get their first-hand advice.

•  Research your platform options. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are only two of the platforms available. There are many. Carefully examine their publicity mechanisms and fee structures. They will help you raise your money but the service is not free. •  Follow the advice of the platform. If they strongly suggest you make a video for your pitch, make a video. Following the advice they give you can make the difference between success and failure. •  Lay your groundwork. Crowd funding drives last for 60 days or less. To successfully meet your goal you need to get the word out before you begin the drive. •  Offer great rewards. Two kinds of people will fund your project. People who already Left of The Lake / Crowdfunding 27

Expect More From Your Décor By Kelle Dame

I rarely say “No!” to a client when they ask if one of their purchases will enhance their space. I encourage them to get out and look around if they feel that they don’t already possess what they need. I have only one rule: No Hobby Lobby! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad place. But when it comes to decorating your home, visit your bookshelves, basement or attic instead. Before I step foot into a client’s home, I know at least 80% already possess the coolest, most important décor items. No joke. One of the first things I ask a client is to see their favorite books. Here’s why: they provide color and texture while expressing their real interests. As an added bonus, they’re readily available for browsing. You can tell a lot about this client by looking at her décor. She loves fashion, interior designer Tricia Guild, and the fabulous century that was the 1930s. Oh, and let’s not forget the color pink. Jewelry is another favorite “go to” item. Just like books, jewelry can provide color and texture and add a little something to the space that reflects your personal style. Besides, why have it hidden where you can’t enjoy it?

The best and most special décor are those items handmade by people we know, or could know, because they live in our community. I once picked up a hand-painted box for a bedroom project at a vintage shop for $4. The best part wasn’t even the price; it was the fact that someone took the time to sit down and meticulously paint over the entire box as a gift for someone else. I think we can all agree that handmade and even hand- painted gifts are not as common as they once were. These one-of-a-kind finds always trump the mass-produced product. So, the next time you’re tempted by the Lobby’s selection, I hope you will hear my “No!” and either decide to go back home and dig through your own cool stuff or head towards the nearest antique mall, art gallery, or flea market. I promise, better décor is waiting to be found.

28  Expect More From Your Décor / Left of The Lake

Left of The Lake / Title 29

30  Chet Griffith / The Message

Not To Say Naked Is Free By Joe Engel











In The Studio By Lisa Bigalke

At Rudbeckia Press, my sister, Becky, and I know that planning and organization are vital to a successful business. We keep meticulous records tracking not only the size and design of the books we create, but details like stitching and cover colors. For example, I can tell you that during 2012’s holidays, we sold twentysix Italian long-stitch books. Eleven of them were brown.

work and more inventory to safely store, we’ve outgrown our current storage space. We are constructing a new space that will allow us to move all finished projects out of the studio. Ultimately, it will have shelves for storage, packing materials for shipping, a computer, and a photography set-up for 2D and 3D image making.

This information helped us prepare for the 2013 holiday sales season, anticipate sales trends, and order supplies. Yet, by December 1st, Becky and I were scrambling to create forty more books for unexpected sales opportunities.

Becky and I also keep a flexible master calendar of projects based on our sales data. For this, I use a large wall calendar and colored markers to keep us motivated and on-task. Our weekly plans are charted on a dry erase board allowing us to complete projects in any order and erase them as we finish.

We also keep a master inventory that tracks which gallery or boutique has which items. This helps us know which items sell best at which location and when the stock was last updated. Due to more shops carrying our

As 2014 brings Rudbeckia Press more opportunities, Becky and I will continue to adjust our organizational system to keep things flowing smoothly and provide the community with new and creative items.

32  In The Studio / Left of The Lake

Jessica Z Schafer / Threshold 33

by Jav Rivera Crowded House’s sixth album,“Intriguer,”starts with a sound unlike the majority of their previous releases. The first track, “Saturday Sun,” has an energy and rock-pounding style that had only appeared on their 1993 album, “Together Alone”. The drums are thumping, the bass distorted, and the guitars have a classic rock electricity. The significance of this sound may not be apparent to the general public; after all, the New Zealand band hadn’t been in the public eye since the 1980s, with their hits “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong”. It’s interesting how much Crowded House grows every decade.“Together Alone”put them back on MTV with the tracks “Locked Out” and “Distant Sun”. Fans like me were excited by the up-to-date sound of “Together Alone,” utilizing more acoustic guitars and experimental songwriting, as opposed to their New Wave sound of the 80s. But after 1993, the band seemingly fell off the face of the planet (not including frontman Neil Finn’s solo career). In 2005, after their original drummer, Paul Hester, died, the band decided to get back into the studio using various drummers. The album, “Time On Earth,” was released in 2007 and in my opinion fell short compared to the flawless “Together Alone” album. There are some decent tracks, but as a whole, “Time On Earth” felt like a band unsure of what they

wanted to create and lacked versatility. After the release of “Time On Earth,”the band, which for the most part has included Neil Finn (vocals, guitars, piano), Nick Seymour (bass), and Mark Hart (guitars, various instruments), had chosen a worthy successor to Paul Hester. Matt Sherrod played on a few tracks for “Time On Earth,” but it was on 2010’s “Intriguer” that he was the official new drummer. And perhaps because Sherrod was somewhat unfamiliar with their previous work, “Intriguer” separates itself from the band’s other albums. Crowded House sounds focused and invigorated, and shows the band developing yet again. “Intriguer” uses the first track, “Saturday Sun,” to reintroduce the band and remind fans that they still has something brilliant and unique to contribute. For me, “Intriguer” was the best album released in 2010. Every song is produced with excellent craftsmanship but my favorite remains “Twice If You’re Lucky”. For more articles by 2nd First Look, visit our official site; You can also visit our Facebook page at: www.facebook. com/2ndFirstLook.

Left of The Lake / 2nd First Look 35

36  Bailey Shaye / Raven

Opening January 11, 2014 Civil War Museum 262-653-4141 5400 First Avenue Kenosha, WI 53140

38  Kim Guisti / Apple

Submit Your Work To Left Of The Lake Left of the Lake Magazine is published quarterly and accepts work continuously.  We  welcome submissions from both new and established artists and writers, nationally and  internationally, but first consideration is offered to the creative people in our region of  Southeast Wisconsin and Northeast Illinois.   General Guidelines: •  All work must be original and not previously published •  No simultaneous submissions Submissions Welcome: •  Poetry (maximum of three pieces) •  Fiction or Non-Fiction (400 words or less) •  Visual Art, Photography, or Comics (maximum of two pieces) How-To Submit: •  We prefer electronic submissions, either as an attachment or in the body of  an email.  Send work to and please include your name,  address, and a short bio of 30 words or less.

Questions? Contact us! Left of The Lake / Submissions Information 39

Downtown Kenosha  Making Memories Every Day  Downtown Kenosha

Left of the Lake Magazine is Printed in The USA. © 2014 Left of the Lake.

In the historic Orpheum Theater  5819 Sixth Avenue  262-652-TOYS or 262-652-YUMM 262-652-YUM - M -YUM


Left of the Lake Magazine Issue 4  

Left of the Lake Magazine features the arts and artists who reside "left of the lake" in Kenosha and Racine, Wisconsin and in Waukegan, Illi...

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