ArtBook contributes to Milwaukee's free magazine scene
Carrie Ann Seymour's life has come full circle. She moved to Milwaukee in 1981, and lived on and off in the city for the next 20 years.
In 2010, during her senior year of college at Northern Illinois University, Seymour fell down the stairs and suffered an ankle injury so severe that she was bed ridden for six months. During this time she created lots of art, including paintings – mostly of bathrooms – and decided to move back to Milwaukee as soon as she could walk again.
When Seymour returned to Brew City in 2006, she was impressed by how much her hometown had changed, particularly in the world of art. There were many more galleries and art co-ops and she met numerous inspiring artists upon her return.
"Milwaukee is becoming a real contender in the art world. It's less expensive than Chicago, New York and Los Angeles," says Seymour. "There is a lot of passion here. It sizzles."
Then, in the fall of 2010, Seymour had a dream about a little book filled with local art. Although she knew nothing about publishing at the time, she found herself on the phone the next day, inquiring about printing costs to create the pocket-sized magazine promoting local artists that she had seen during sleep.
"I became obsessed," she says.
Seymour, with the help of designer James Kloiber, created the first ArtBook last winter and distributed it to the public in April 2011. She has created three more editions since and distributes them seasonally, in conjunction with Gallery Nights.
The five-by-five book is printed on glossy paper. The first book was 32 pages, the second was 24 pages and the third was 36 pages. The upcoming winter edition will be 100 pages and, for the first time, includes artists from beyond Milwaukee.
"I want to show that Milwaukee artists are on par with the world," she says.
ArtBook showcases the work of anywhere from 10 to 20 local artists per issue. Editions have featured local artists like Ryan Alby, Lori Bauman, Reginald Baylor, Valerie J. Christell, Kari Garon, Tiffany Knopow, Karina Schafer, William Zuback and many more.
"The mission of ArtBook is to bring the best local art to the eyes of the city, to connect artists with collectors and art appreciators directly. I have no interest in selling art at this point, but I am in love with the idea of bringing something beautiful into this town," says Seymour.
ArtBook is free and is available at more than 500 locations in Milwaukee, some surrounding suburbs and Madison. Seymour is funding the project through advertising and donations, some by the artists and some by friends who are supportive of the endeavor. Seymour welcomes most mediums – rarely accepting digital or overtly political art.
"I look for skill and vision. Abstract, realistic or something a bit off-kilter," she says. "I choose art that is well executed, exciting but definitely not pornographic. I do like a good nude, though."
Although ArtBook is Seymour's first printed-periodical, she has a history of DIY bookmaking. A few years ago, she spent the summer ripping paper and sewing it back together. She says they were "ugly things" that she "simply adored but couldn't sell." She decided she was more motivated to sell, or distribute, other peoples' art because she was shy about her work. (She did include a self portrait in one of the issues of ArtBook.)
In the '80s and '90s, Seymour focused heavily on music, writing songs, singing and playing guitar. She spent years of her life traveling, selling bootleg CDs and playing in bars, gas stations and parking lots. On a TBD Monday in January, for the first time in five years, Seymour will play a gig at Linneman's, 1001 E. Locust St.
"My life has really come full circle, back to Milwaukee, back to music, but still deeply imbedded in my love of art," she says.
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