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Cross Connection community

VO L U M E N O . 1

A PR I L 2 0 1 5

2 DIRECTOR’S NOTE It’s a really amazing experience to physically be able to hold

we could showcase Milwaukee art, while also giving money

this magazine in my hands. So much led up to this point-

back to our community. It’s been a crazy experience, and

months of planning, meetings, missed meetings and time

while we aren’t making huge amounts of money, I’ve

spent staring at a computer screen. It really is an amazing

already seen first hand the potential this project holds.

feeling to have this object in my hands and know we were able to come together and put an idea out into the world.

There have been so many amazing people who have come together to make these first issues possible. Our great

When I launched the idea of Cross Connection this past

designers, Thomas Beran and Jordan Pintar, who created

summer, I really had no idea what to expect. I had never

amazing identities for a publication that has no set identity.

published a real magazine, I had no idea how we were

All of the amazing contributors who supported the project

going to fund it and I certainly didn’t have the grammatical

and supplied us with amazing content. My co-editor, Staci

skills required to run a publication. Well, flash forward

Pawledge, for always being there (and for putting up

almost a year and here we are, releasing Issue 2 of

with all my spelling errors). And all of the support we’ve

Cross Connection. I still can’t spell worth a damn, but

received from businesses in Milwaukee. Now I don’t know

this project is really starting to develop into something.

what the future holds but I am genuinely fucking excited.

I want to thank everyone for trusting in this project and allowing it to grow. We are learning as we go and

Stoop Kids has the potential have such a large life beyond

with each new issue we will get better and stronger.

this publication and can take on any life of its own and that is truly exciting. Looking ahead, I want to spend

I started this project to provide a voice for art in Milwaukee

more time on these unique publications and find ways of

and level the playing field between high and low brow. Too

making every component collaborative. Throughout the

often I would hear my peers talking horribly about artists

year we will be creating more pop up stores raising money

and their work behind their backs. While critical discussion

for future issues, instead of relying on advertising. These

and feedback is fine, shitting on someone behind their backs

pop up spaces will find a balance between a retail and

felt like letting high school drama enter our art community.

gallery setting.Thanks so taking the time to check out this

I wanted this project and Stoop Kids as a whole to reflect

publication and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

an attitude of a time before everyone’s ego kicked in and help bring people together. With the size of our community and the lack of funding we receive (think of all the troubles Mike Brenner has gone through). It is us, the artists, who are ultimately responsible for keeping art alive in our city. Milwaukee may like to boast we are a “top 12 art city” because of one internet poll, but until art receives the kind of financial and community support the- city would rather put into a new sports arena we must continue to support ourselves. That’s why I wanted to create a project where

Josh Christensen DIRECTOR

issue no.

CREDITS Anna Alger Brad Fiore Brett Suemnicht Jillian Turbessi MSSV Work Nate Pyper Present Works Rachele Krivichi Josh Christensen DIRECTOR Staci Pawledge CO-EDITOR Jordan Pintar DESIGNER

Jordan is an Art Director based in Milwaukee, WI.

2 Director’s Note Josh Christensen

6 Explore Your Home Rachele Krivichi

8 OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE Storylines Anna Alger

13 Press Profile: Bay View Printing Co. Nate Pyper

16 FEATRED ARTIST A Night With MSSV Work Josh Christensen


21 It’s Worth It Jillian Turbessi

23 A Retrospective Brad Fiore

25 GALLERY SPOTLIGHT Past. Present. Future. Josh Christensen

28 Creative Writing Grace Mitchell

30 Queer Space Brett Suemnicht



Explore Your Home Rachele Kivichi Illustration by Josh Christensen

It is often said that there is little left to explore in this world. Alaska, Antarctica, Greenland, and the other melting places of the world. Hawaii, maybe. And, for Americans, at least: Cuba. Up until recently, Americans were not allowed to travel legally to Cuba, and although there are still strict regulations on how Americans can get to the island, it is becoming less and less difficult for us to step onto it’s shores. One of those Americans who managed to travel there is Barbara Miner, a Wisconsin resident, artist, and author. Equipped with a camera, she was able to capture some stunning images of the poverty that plagues Cuba. The photographs, in a series called Postcards from Cuba, were hung at the Portrait Society Gallery in the Third Ward for just a week, March 6-14. Rather than framed, they were taped onto the wall. Their labels were scribbled in pencil. They looked like they were meant for a project beyond the show at PSG; a book or magazine perhaps. They document a place that is foreign to us for many reasons. Old cars and people without shoes walking the streets. Colorful fruits we have never seen before in baskets at the market. I was struck by the color, and the green landscapes I could see in the background. I wondered vaguely how different Cuba would look in ten years’ time after greedy America has gotten its hands on it. Overall, though, I thought the photographs fell short of providing a new perspective on Cuba. It was exactly what I had always heard: old cars and poverty. After seeing the photographs, I became interested in Miner’s other work, and went to her website to view her other projects. I noticed one in particular called Anatomy of an Avenue, which is a 60-page photo essay on the different racial

and economic demographics of Milwaukee’s North Avenue. In the photographs, Miner keenly contrasts the inception of North Avenue at the shores of Lake Michigan to its food-stamp denouement in Pewaukee. It is impressive that she was able to achieve this deep exploration in a place she calls home. Most of us who live in the more privileged parts of Milwaukee don’t even travel west on North Avenue if we don’t have to, let alone take the time to painstakingly document it. In comparison to Anatomy of an Avenue, Postcards from Cuba seemed distant and cold. Postcards lacked the heartfelt observations and insights of the North Avenue project —insights that only a native can provide. I learned more from viewing the photographs of my own city than I did from viewing the photographs of Cuba. I felt that Miner was more attached to the subject matter, and therefore could provide us with a clearer message. I’m not saying we shouldn’t go to Cuba, or any other country for that matter. It is amazing that we have broken down the barrier with a country we have been estranged with for so long. But we shouldn’t overlook the rampant poverty in our own home. With the recent attacks on our state from Wisconsin lawmakers (you all know who I’m talking about), the physical and social landscape of Wisconsin could rapidly change into something very different from what we are familiar with. I think it is important to keep our eyes on these changes and explore our own home as if we are seeing it for the first time. Because sometimes we don’t see what’s right in front of us.



Anna Alger

STORYLINES In painting, my impulse has always been to seek the narrative. We are endlessly linked to each occurrence in our lives; our personal narratives are perpetual, transcending time and space. Events overlap as we experience, remember or predict them. We carry our stories with us across time, and though the events may remain in the past, the present retains them. These paintings embody an exploration of narrative, and the ways in which it translates to the visual world. In finding ways to represent multiple parts of a narrative in one image, I found that the stories of the characters within grew, just as they would in a literary world. In the language of painting, the layering of a story becomes literal – spaces overlap and bleed into one another; characters may appear more than once, mirroring their counterparts.










Just as we are always on the threshold of past, present, and future, these paintings are on the threshold of a narrative – not in one chapter or another, but attempting to allow a glimpse into many parts at once.



Press Profile: Bay View Printing Co. Nate Pyper

I’m 19 years old and my face is pressed against the basement window of the Bay View Printing Company, shoulder-to-shoulder with two college friends. It’s dark outside, but a nearby streetlight illuminates the contours of type cases and press beds. We stumbled upon the shop during a walk-to-nowhere, a midnight discovery that fills the night with electric energy. We improvise mythologies, make guesses as to who owns the shop, argue about which one of us is going to have the courage to come back during business hours and ask to apprentice. The fantasies fade by the time we round the corner, but the image of those dormant presses sticks thick on the roof of my mouth. It will be six years before I finally walk through the front door. I didn’t know it then, but one of my typography instructors at the time would go on to become the company’s fourth owner in its nearly century-long history (the Company celebrates 100 years in 2018). To hear her tell the story of how she acquired the shop is energizing: while finishing grad school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in early 2014, Ashley Town began an apprenticeship with Jim Baker, then owner of the Bay View Printing Co. She had met Jim while looking for a letterpress shop to print wedding invitations. Jim had

owned the shop for 30 years prior but, as fate would have it, was looking to retire. By October of the same year, Ashley had purchased the company. She notes the shop’s unique history of changing hands: every time it’s been sold, everything has been included as one lump—the building, the equipment, and all the type. By the end of the year, she had completed a successful Indiegogo campaign to help fund renovations and repairs. Ashley’s circle of local letterpress printers was small before the crowdfunding. There was N. Adam Beadel of Team Nerd Letterpress in the Walker’s Point neighborhood and the printmaking students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) where she taught, but that was about it. Through the online campaign, support began to pour in from all over the nation, and her network of fellow enthusiasts rapidly expanded. Chris Fritton of the Itinerant Printer project promised a stop at Ashley’s shop during his letterpress tour in late 2015.



Paul Aken of the Platen Press Museum in Illinois showed up at her front door one day and announced,

“I just really wanted to meet you!”



Before Ashley became owner, Bay View Printing Co. was completely commercial. Jim printed jobs with offset printers on the first floor, rarely using the printing presses in the basement with their wooden and metal movable type that had served the shop in the first half of its existence. As a gesture of goodwill and in an effort to maintain the community that Jim had cultivated, Ashley continues to service the needs of his remaining clientele. Many of these jobs are mundane and mechanical: letterhead, raffle tickets, and the like. Some customers could care less that the business has changed hands. Others are excited for this new chapter and make an effort to stop in and chat with Ashley. Still, others express a skepticism that reveals an aging stigma: a lot of Jim’s previous clients are older men who walk in, see Ashley, and immediately assume that she’s completely incapable of running a press. In 2015, it’s still radical to be a young woman with a set of shop keys.

This sentiment stands in stark contrast to her experience during her undergraduate years at MIAD. With an emphasis on the digital, her studies prioritized using technology to create design. As a result, her work was clean, organized, and systematic. That all changed at SAIC. “In grad school, it was all about what I was feeling instead of organizing information.” A creative writing focus led to more personal expressions like bookmaking, printmaking, and other traditional practices. Her thesis work reflected this shift with limited edition artist’s books and one-off sculptural pieces.

The implication of utilizing these hands-on methods is that conventional modes of production signal authenticity. But what does it mean when you can find “the letterpress look” on a gig poster just as easily as you might find it on a disposable McDonald’s soda cup? On the aesthetic of rugged-Americana, Ashley laments, “That’s been a trend for a long time But if being a presswoman is unfortunately, even since I was in radical, then her ambitions are undergrad. I thought that it was revolutionary: Ashley is in the process going to go away, but it didn’t. I think of transforming the company into a the majority of people who come multi-functional community space. in looking for letterpress say they Beyond letterpress, Ashley hopes to want ‘a deep impression.’ Everyone expand to a range of services including wants to feel the impression on the bookbinding and papermaking. A paper, which is funny because in variety of intensive summer workshops the days of commercial letterpress, are on the horizon and plans for a that would’ve been poor practice. screen-printing facility are in the So it’s kind of a compromise.” works. The Printing Company will soon be a one-stop shop for Milwaukee In his essay “Death of a Pressman” to get its hands dirty. “It doesn’t (Print Magazine, August 2012), Fritz have to be letterpress,” she says. Swanson suggests that, “nostalgia is “It’s just the act of making. Getting always in tension with authenticity, people in here using their hands to one pulling toward the other; but they make something is really exciting.” can never meet.” In the landscape of

graphic design, letterpress is often dismissed as sentimental cud chewing. But while this may seem true in theory, in practice it just doesn’t hold up. When people participate in workshops at Bay View Printing Co., they aren’t quoting experience—they’re creating new ones. For many, this is their first time working with letterpress, opening wooden drawers filled with metal type, feeling the grooves of a 12-point lowercase “s” between their fingers, setting a paragraph of text with leads and slugs, rolling it through the press bed. The experience of letterpress printing is authentic because it is lived. In the same essay, Swanson notes, “Letterpress is dead because customers want it to be dead. Paradoxically, this is the very thing that brings it back to life each day.” It’s a brisk Sunday afternoon in January the first time I finally visit Bay View Printing Co. The same electric energy I felt all those years ago frames the front door as I walk through. Family, friends, and former students gather in the small shop to install a gallery space on the first floor. We take instruction from Ashley whose pregnant belly anticipates the rebirth of the shop (by press time, she’ll have given birth to her firstborn son). We build shelves, install hardwood flooring, pore through vintage printing tomes, and hang prints from recent workshops. The room swells with conversation punctuated by occasional laughter and whoop-filled cheers as tasks are accomplished. Stools stand stacked in the other room awaiting a promising future of lectures and class visits.



Story by Stoop Kids Photos by MSSV Work




I tag along with the new interdisciplinary studio for a night of photos, studio visits and childhood tales. We talk about what’s next for the team and revisit some childhood roots.

It’s 9 o’clock on Sunday evening as I throw on some shoes and run I sit on my beat up couch waiting down to the street to meet Rodney for a phone call saying my ride has Johnson and Joseph (Joe) Phonisay, arrived. Normally my Sunday nights two members of the three person are comprised of Netflix and never team at MSSV WORK. I climb into getting out of my sweatpants, but the back of Rodney’s car, squeezing not tonight. Tonight I’m tagging in next to some lighting equipment along on an impromptu photoshoot taking up most of the back seat. with MSSV WORK and I have Rodney explains we are meeting literally no idea what I’m getting a buddy of theirs in the 3rd Ward. myself into. We’ve been trying to “Yeah, we had some people bail set up a time for us to tag along on us so we’re just going kind of with the group on a shoot but our winging it,” Rodney says over the schedules haven’t been aligning. I music. “Just like the old days when was beginning to lose hope, when I we would be taking photos till got a message earlier that morning three in the morning.” Before we saying they were shooting tonight get going, Joe starts giggling in the and now here we are. So far all I front seat and we wait to see what’s know is we are going to be taking got him so excited. Then, over the photos and seeing where the night radio at full volume, comes a remix takes us. Finally I get the call saying of “Bandz A Make Her Dance” mixed they have arrived. with music from Legend of Zelda.



We speed through quiet downtown Milwaukee, blasting music and joking. Our brief trip ends as Rodney pulls over on a sleepy 3rd Ward street. Across the street is a four story parking structure, which will be the site of tonight’s shoot. Scaling the concrete structure, we make our way to the top and look across the Milwaukee skyline. It’s a cool night and a thin fog hangs over our heads, cloaking the city in a light mist. We’ve got some time to kill before their buddy, Benny, shows up. We talk about some upcoming projects the team has on their agenda. They have tons of projects lined up and somehow they find the time to make them all work. The team currently take photos, produces music videos and has their own web series called MSSV TALK, which revolves around interviews with Milwaukee creatives. “Every video or shoot I make has to be good enough to show up on tv,” says Rodney as he pulls cameras out of a bag. “We really want to make sure it looks good everywhere. We don’t like to half ass things. Like, even this. This should be half assed but we’re going to make this special.” They are currently wrapping up a MSSV TALK with the indie rock band, Soul



Low, and preparing to shoot a new one at Radio Milwaukee. They are also preparing to launch a new series, MSSV LIVE, which captures live performances, as well as working on merchandise for one of Milwaukee’s favorite rappers, Webster X. Rodney explains a project they are working on for rapper, Pizzle. “We’re really excited about this Pizzle video. It’s sort of a comeback video for both of us. Pizzle hasn’t released anything in like three years and we haven’t done a music video in forever.” They’re planning a video for a track titled, “Grand”, a new release coming later this year.

“We want to do something big! Something that shows how grand this city is.” The pair discuss possibly getting some aerial shots of Milwaukee from a helicopter. The story of MSSV WORK goes back to when Rodney and Joe first met. “I’m glad we’ve been doing this. We’ve been doing this since high school. He first friended me on Myspace and I had no idea who this guy was,” Rodney says. “I was

trying to poach your clients,” Joe adds while laughing. The pair have reinvented the operation multiple times but are finally in a place they belong. The first ideation of MSSV WORK was Animal Studio, which was “god awful, completely a disaster,” they say laughing. After that, came a brief period in time where they were creating and selling t-shirts, creating nonstop work. Now as MSSV WORK, they have found their rhythm and are building momentum. The pair discuss each others strengths and weaknesses. “I think ‘obsess’ is the wrong word,” Joe begins. “No, you obsess over stuff,” Rodney interrupts laughing. “It’s always the littlest things,” continues Joe. “Like, the colors aren’t right here, or the shot is just a little off. Like, when we did our third MSSV TALK, I made four different versions of the video in the same day.” Rodney adds, “It’s nice working with him ‘cause I don’t always worry about everything and he worries about every little detail. So it balances out.” We talk and laugh and eventually Benny arrives, but the photoshoot doesn’t last long. Benny mentions his buddy has a killer studio space


19 @mssvwork

that may have room for the team over in Walker’s Point. Rodney and Joe are immediately interested and soon we were off once again to explore the space. We meet another high school friend, a painter who has just moved into a space that could house one more. MSSV WORK’s roots run deep and we hang out in the space around a long office table as the crew reflect on memories of drunken nights, childhood stories and funny videos. Our night ends the way any good night should- with a pit stop at Ian’s pizza before going home.

Keep your eye on MSSV Work these coming months as they start taking over Milwaukee.







a Retrospective Brad Fiore

Oh, how I long for the days when Mike Brenner was tattooing pancakes on his ass and threatening to leave the city, pending construction of the Bronze Fonz statue. The sheer number of hate-filled exclamation points penned in this era was breathtaking, as interested spectators would chatter day and night in eager anticipation of our overgrown dilettante’s next tirade. We were never disappointed, as he returned to us again and again, with threats to poop on an alderman’s lawn and a continually renewed disdain for the city he proclaimed to love so much.

down a bit since the Fonzy debacle, even posing for a few pictures with the cultural icon’s gleaming mug. For a time, it seemed like scandal-hungry Milwaukeeans would have to look elsewhere for their fix of blownout-of-proportion rage. After a few years of relative quiet, the first few months of 2015 have brought Brennerinspired controversy back to us, like a hungry Oroboros. If you haven’t heard, these days he has been locking horns with marketing group Newaukee That has always been the weird over the proprietary rights to a logo thing about Brenner. He talks design. What’s most surprising about about Milwaukee like he’s on the this debate is that anyone is eager bad end of an abusive relationship. to take credit for the design at all, ‘Love-hate’ only begins to describe as its navy-blue-with-a-heart-at-theit, with such heartfelt testimonials bottom motif is strikingly banal. as “I can no longer give my time or money to a city SO resistant to moving forward and embracing progress. All my friends were right to leave this city the minute we graduated from high school.” He never left the city, and actually opened up a brewery in Walker’s Point, settling in for what seems Newaukee premiered their version, like the foreseeable future. We’re bearing the phrase FUTURE STARTS not sure if he has dependency NOW, at a rally promoting the issues or some odd type of forthcoming Bucks stadium. I’m Stockholm syndrome, but we are not sure what exactly the designer beginning to feel more and more was going for here, but the stark like staging an intervention. sans-serif font, paired with the In any case, Brenner has quieted inelegant syntax, perfectly captured

Milwaukee’s dystopian future, as if a command by robot overlords to commence our biological existence. To be honest, it is pretty difficult to deny the similarity of the two designs, and so I feel I have to give Brenner some credit for his outrage. But at the same time, claiming proprietary rights for Wisconsin and hearts seems pretty silly, like if Disney tried to patent cute talking animals. It’s not a new habit of Brenner’s either, as he has claimed ownership of just about everything, accusing John Riepenhoff of “blatantly stealing [his] idea,” in reference to Riepenhoff’s beergarten project which aimed to raise funds for local arts organizations. What adds to this fire is that Brenner and Riepenhoff have been running competing art galleries, since the old days of Hotcakes and the original Green Gallery. The only thing Milwaukeeans have neglected to talk about so far is why any of this matters—why any of these stories warrant more than a passing remark. My best guess is because, when it comes down to it, Brenner is right. Why should anyone stay in Milwaukee? Why should we be expected to look past the UWM budget cuts, the racism, the incredibly inhospitable climate for culture-makers? Why shouldn’t each of us be frustrated



“He is upset because he lives in a city that he feels isn’t able to keep pace with his ambitions.” by the fact that we constantly have to wage war against our neighbors in order to make a living? Brenner certainly is an obnoxious and entitled crybaby, but that doesn’t mean he is crying is without reason. Even though he could be described as reasonably successful now, the past fifteen years of Brenner’s career have been anything but smooth sailing. Founding the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) in 2000 never earned him any of the money or cultural clout he had hoped for, and Hotcakes Gallery never saw much commercial success. I think the thing to understand about Brenner is that he’s not upset about the Bronze Fonz, or John Riepenhoff, or Newaukee. Or even about that city inspector who tried to limit access to his Tasting Room, or the people who were instrumental in cutting his last few ties with MARN. He is upset because he lives in a city that he feels isn’t able to keep pace with his ambitions. It’s a pretty relatable feeling, and those of us who choose to make our careers in Milwaukee do so with the understanding that it’s getting blood from a stone,



an undertaking in alchemy. I find that I don’t have a satisfying answer to offer, for why anybody should stay in Milwaukee. Our mid-tolate-twenties are difficult in this regard, as peer circles slowly dwindle from innumerable leakages—grad school, dissatisfaction with local politics, lack of jobs—adding professional loneliness to the stalwart Milwaukeean’s list of problems. To cope, we console ourselves by recognizing the value of inhospitable climates, imagining ourselves as cultural pioneers in an expansive frontier. Sure, we lack some of the basic infrastructure, but we’ve got lots of room to expand. Young artists prove their ambition by constantly reasserting their intent to move to New York or Los Angeles as soon as possible. For them, these cities represent a scaling-up of challenge, ambition, and opportunity, and even though their success is still not proven, the implication is that they are better off than their peers who decide not to leave home. What these aspiring urbanites forget is that the cities they choose to pin their hopes and dreams on are already plagued by ambitious young professionals.

Mike Brenner poses with the Bronze Fonz

New York doesn’t need any more painters, and Los Angeles isn’t looking for the next new quirky social practice artist. If there is any reason for culturemakers to exist, it is to fill the gaps where their talents are actually needed. It is so easy to forget that ‘artist’ is actually a job that serves a real function. In the cities that are already overburdened with makers, this function tends to become less clear, but in places like Milwaukee there is never a reason to wonder why it might be a good idea to open a boutique-y gallery in the bad part of town, or a new studio enclave supported by an independent brewery.

Find more of Brad’s writing at

Nicole Killian Mood Ring November, 2014

PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE. Photos by Present Works

One of Milwaukee’s newest galleries, Present Works, embraces Milwaukee’s DIY attitude as they invite audiences into their home & work space. And now, riding the wave of their successful fundraising rally, they set their eyes on the future.

It’s a cold March evening as I make my way to the old factory building that houses one of Milwaukee’s youngest galleries, Present Works, run by Brian Nigus and Maura Kelly Doyle. It’s Sunday evening and it seems like most of Milwaukee is tucked away inside, hibernating until spring finally shows its head. The large brick building seems dormant, as if it too is waiting for warmer days but as I pull open the large red door, there is an echoing beat of dance music pounding away somewhere within its walls. As a walk down the long hall, I’m greeted by an old freight elevator with two young operators who take me up three floors to where the echoing house music is coming from. I make a dumb joke asking if this is that exclusive warehouse party I’ve been hearing so much about. We reach the third floor and at the end of the long hallway I see the small gallery overflowing with guests. This is the Monster Drawing Rally.

This isn’t your typical gallery show with guests standing around in a quite gallery sipping wine. The gallery, which isn’t more than 20 feet in any direction, is packed wall to wall with guests, all happily conversing watching artists frantically produce drawing after drawing. Above us all, a DJ stands in a custom booth elevated some feet off the ground. The energy in the room makes you forget about the cold weather outside. Two walls on either side of the room are lined with long tables where three artists are spread out frantically creating drawings. All of the artists vary in age and style but each are completely focused on their creations, only looking up to ring a bell which indicates that another drawing has been completed. I’ve arrived halfway through the first set of drawers (there are three drawing sessions each lasting an hour with new drawers every round) and already the white walls of the

Josh Christensen

gallery are quickly filling up as drawing after drawing is packaged and taped to the wall immediately ready for purchase. Throughout the night hundreds of drawings will be produced- everything from a brightly colored penis going into a juicy slice of pizza (sausage pizza), to abstract line work, to naked skateboarders. Everything from collage to screenprint will be utilized by the artists while a steady crowd looks on.

When I stop by the gallery a week later on a quiet Saturday afternoon to talk with Brian and Maura about the rally and what’s next on their agenda, things have not slowed down at all. Large Fedex boxes are scattered around the gallery with framed pieces leaning against the walls patiently waiting to be hung. A large opened box containing a hammock leans against a back wall.



“It totally plays into our name. This is people’s present work and perhaps an indication of what’s next...we’re totally milking that name for all it’s worth”

From left to right: Spencer Lee Erickson, Ryan Hughes, Bob Jones Courtesy of 65GRAND Disguise After Dark October, 2014

They are preparing to install a new show 100 people living together featuring new work by New York City based, Riley Duncan, which will open the following night. Things never seem to slow down for the pair, both of whom work full time, which is part of the reason they have their openings on Sunday nights. “Because those are the nights we are off,” Brian laughs. “But it really works with our schedules and it’s a sustainable way.”

We sit down in the kitchen, which is located directly off the gallery and casually discuss the history of Present Works over coffee. Meeting while getting their undergrad at MCAD, both artists have a history with making the most of unconventional spaces. The first show they curated together took place during their senior year in a space that used to be an Anarchist bookstore. They rented and cleaned up the space which continued to have a life as an art space for a few months after the show. “That show was sort of a catalyst for curating shows,” Maura explains. “It was our first taste of shipping work, dealing with work getting stuck in customs and that sort of thing.” Following graduation the pair continued incorporating curation into their practice. Maura continued staying involved in Minneapolis working for a gallery and running her own space out of her apartment, called the Guest Room Gallery. Brian was traveling and went to China for a teaching residency which involved setting up a art gallery in Beijing.

The space, which is not only a gallery but Brian and Maura’s studio and The space in Milwaukee sort of living space, seems to fit right in came together out of the blue the with the DIY attitude Milwaukee is pair explains. “Brain posted on becoming more and more known Facebook a picture of a storefront for.“It’s great, it definitely enriches asking if anyone was interested in our lives. It’s a changing space trying to build it out and I was like and we get to unwrap the work ‘Me!’” Maura explains. That original and spend time with it... it’s like storefront space fell through but Christmas” says Brian, giggling like thanks to a bartender’s suggestion, a true kid on Christmas morning.



the pair stumbled upon this building and happened to contact the owner at the right time. Maura, who had not yet moved to Milwaukee, had to return to Minneapolis and was unable to initially tour the space. “It was a good thing that you went back to Minnesota,” Brain says laughing. “It would have been hard for you to see the potential.” Apparently it had been owned by a hoarder for 12 years and was in a horrendous state. Sitting at the table drinking coffee, it’s hard for me to imagine what the space must of looked like because everything in their loft is clean and simple like the gallery itself. The gallery has been a big step forward for the duo. “It’s definitely been a learning process,” explains Brian. “Everything from shipping, to artists packets, to being professional. All these little tweaks we’ve been doing as we go along to make it seem legit.” They try to balance being professional curators with a casual and inviting presence. After all, they are literally letting you into their home when you see a show. “We get to live with the work and it’s all work that we love” Brain says. “It feels kind of selfish on one hand- we choose work we’d love to work with and we get to see it everyday,” Maura adds. The pair are weaving their way through systems and developing their own unique voice in the gallery

scene of Milwaukee. “An important aspect is some of our values to the gallery,” Brian says. “For the most part, all of our shows are people from outside of Milwaukee. We like having a really diverse conversation and we found Minneapolis to be insular at times. We want to be working hard to increase the conversation.” The pair try to be a stepping stone to support emerging artists understanding very well how difficult it can be. “Everyone from the most part is 25-32 (years old) and for a lot of them, it’s their first solo show or one of their firsts,” Maura explains. “We’re both artists too so we understand how hard it can be to get that first solo show and also how important it is for a resume. We’re really excited about supporting young artists”. These first solo shows provide an interesting look at what’s to come. “It totally plays into our name. This is people’s present work and perhaps an indication of what’s next...we’re totally milking that name for all it’s worth,” laughs Brian.

Coming in June, Present Works will once again open its doors to artists for their one nighter series, where every Sunday a new one night event will take place. No announcement as to what these events will be just yet, but all will center around the idea of temporary one night opportunities (i.e- performances, screenings). Our conversation ends with us talking about Evelyn, Maura’s husky and the official gallery dog, who is currently off looking for “outsider dog art”. With the success of the Monster Drawing Rally under their belt, I look forward to seeing this young gallery grow and make a name for itself.


Nicholas Carroll Here Lies Youth Januray, 2015

While they pride themselves on bringing in outside artists to create new dialogue in Milwaukee, the next few months will show Present Works opening its doors and supporting local artists in new ways. Coming in April, the gallery will run its very own month long residency. Rather than being an in-house residency, artists will spend the month in Present Work’s home neighborhood of Walker’s Point, learning the area and creating work from their experiences. Following the month long investigation, artists will show their work in April at the space.



There is a layer of nothing inbetween we. Little pockets of air cling to pits of pores sucking me sucking your fat vanilla filling I am convex now. But my mouth will always be a cave. Bats keep my voice w/ the guano in the front lawn. Atoms repel each other Kids tease one another until a bone is broken. Over & over until each part of you is associated with someone else’s name & their superior force. My hair follicle is a tube that you’ll never get inside of & we both have dna. I told someone that I I am going on a vision quest with a guy named rick with a dog named rick all we’re missing is a steve or a different man to wrangle all these abstract ideas I’ve been havin about things w/ out words yet. The layer of water that does not move on the ocean floor that layer that isn’t even really there besides as a sediment. A murky residue. Do you know what I’m saying rick? Are you picking up what I’m putting down imaginary steve or imaginary dog? Rick the dog u know a thing or two about picking up bones w/ your mouth don’t you? So do I, rick the dog So do i.




I Pet Your ExGirlfriend’s Dog I Pet Your Ex-Girlfriend’s Dog She had sunglasses on, I was unwashed in full-noon second-long moment two of my fingers tilted under Dog’s chin hi puppy Singing whatever will be will be dodge melted snow in the dips of cement steel toe stepping Santa’s on the porch painting still lives he turns hi puppy the sun’s upon the dawn of two people with a mythos colliding for another second as degrees drop no so low but in way where only hairs can tell.



os by: p Kids

queer Space Brett Suemnicht

QP, the realization that the spaces we encompass become a way we challenge, interact and disrupt our environments through the people that embody them. A place that resists Homo(trans)phobia, Sexism, Racism and all the other ism that run rampant in normative culture. Q_P is a documentation of environments that create culture through the perspectives of queers/punks/anti-capitalists/ minority, the ones usually referred to as the other.

THE COCOON ROOM ALL AGES DIY QUEER SPACE Riverwest MKE Queer Queer Queer Queer Queer Queer Queer Queer Queer

as as as as as as as as as

a fluid space outside heteronormality, a space between bodies that don’t connect to expectations, a state of constant growth, a denial of a fixed identity, a site of overthrown masculinity, an alternative domesticity, an anti-capitalist stance, a place divorced from gendered binaries, a calculated failure.


“In efforts to promote inclusiveness and eliminate bigotry and oppression within our communities, we at the Cocoon Room adopt a safer space policy. In this venue, bigoted and oppressive behaviors, actions, and/ or language will not be tolerated. Examples include but are not limited

to racism, sexism, heteronormism, sizeism, classism, gism. No creepy bullshit. If you have to ask or second guess yourself as to what you’re about to do or say violates this policy, it’s a safe bet to just not do or say it. If any of this confuses you, please feel free to ask a staffer.”



FLUID IDENTITY “Fluid Identity is an investigation of individuals who identify outside of the classifications that exist in mainstream understandings of heteronormative culture. The term “queer” manifests itself through its ambiguous connotations, disrupting the limits of the gender binary. The process of self-identification becomes a way of signifying part of oneself that can contribute toward an active understanding of personal desire. By showcasing a series of individuals who fall in-between, outside, and against established notions of a solidified personhood, identity becomes lost in the fluidity of ever-changing moments that define who we are.”


Brett Suemnicht is a queer artist who lives and works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a recent graduate of The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Their work explores identification by examining the cultural normalities define desire, behavior and personal constitution. Their work has been featured on, and 365 days/365 artists. They have been included in numerous group exhibitions around the Milwaukee area as a National Juried Exhibition at Indiana State University East. To view more work visit



“It’s a constantly shifting state, dependent on so many things, so many things, so much so all the time that it can be difficult for me to understand or discern. And sometimes I think that’s o.k. too; like I can just try to be an animalistic machine that has no cares and smokes cigarettes, but I don’t get that either. I mean, it’s hard, thinking intelligently about sexualitysomething so often intrinsically thoughtless. And that’s why it’s important to do so. But I will never understand my sexuality; I will find it boring and base sometimes, and other times I see how it affects the way I order food or walk. And occasionally I will feel completely free, by it or from it, I can’t say.”

“queer as a way of doing queering, questioning, disrupting, deconstructing the normative for purposes of reclaiming, renaming practicing, proliferating liberatory ways of being” “Language provides us a very limited and very rigid way to understand life. It categorizes different lived experiences into words. Sometimes this makes sense, makes the chaos of reality a little more understandable. But I find “for me, queer is part of that I can’t categorize my a larger stance against ever-changing thoughts, schematic thinking. sensations, and desires it encompasses a critique into words with frozen of gender and sexuality, but meanings. It doesn’t make its anti-essentialism can be sense. Thoughts, sensations, corrosive to many dubious and desires are organized in concepts. it’s a reminder fluid ways. Time passes, and that if we can collectively I am a different me. I think, be duped into imitating the feel, and want differently. stick figures on the bathroom It’s never the same.” door, then there is much work to be done identifying and dismantling harmful constructs at every level.”



Queer Space

“We are vulnerable, we hold space for each other, we trust, we affirm, we forgive, there is no higher or lower, there is no road but the one we build.”



FINAL THOUGHTS Once again we want to thank you for supporting this project. Looking ahead, we have no immediate prompt for the next issue of Cross Connection. We will be taking some time off this summer for some R&R and to evaluate the project. By no means is this a goodbye. This project will continue to grow and develop and we are excited for what the future holds. In the mean time, lets talk. Feel free to reach out to us for anything. Have an idea for a project? Looking to get involved with the next issue? Want to know who our favorite celebrity is? Send us an email and let’s figure something out. We look forward to hearing from you. Email:




Cross Connection Issue 2  

Issue 2 of Cross Connection Designed by Jordan Pintar Featuring: Anna Alger Brad Fiore Brett Suemnicht Grace Mitchell Jillian Turbessi MSS...

Cross Connection Issue 2  

Issue 2 of Cross Connection Designed by Jordan Pintar Featuring: Anna Alger Brad Fiore Brett Suemnicht Grace Mitchell Jillian Turbessi MSS...