Sheboygan, Wisconsin — Today marks the second week of my residency here in Sheboygan, a place which remains elusive to me. I have become familiar with the stretches of road between my cabin, the Arts Center and the Piggly Wiggly Supermarket on a highway named Business 28. I like going to the “Pig,” as the locals call it, to buy coffee and admire the vast selection of frozen pizzas they sell. The freezers filled with pizzas alone would choke a bodega. I admit, I bought one and ate it while watching the Matrix on the small TV/VCR combo here.
This morning I stood frozen in private terror facing a room full of smiling senior citizens with various stages of memory loss, feeling ill-prepared to ask them to draw someone who they had never actually met. That is the conceit of my memory-based drawing project, here on the sunny shores of Lake Michigan north of Milwaukee: to get as many people as I can to draw a person or character relying only on their memories and imagination.
There’s a lot of art news coming out of Milwaukee this week and all of it makes some of us wondering what the hell is happening in the city we normally associate with Laverne & Shirley and bratwurst. First, the director of Milwaukee Art Museum made silly comments that museums should not be political and now the union-busting Republican governor of the Wisconsin has removed a very multicultural painting by local artist David Lenz from a prominent place in the governor’s mansion.