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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

"Andy's Hair" by Arvid Petersen.

In Arts & Entertainment

"Butter Stick" by Arvid Petersen.

In Arts & Entertainment

"The White Crayon" by Arvid Petersen.

In Arts & Entertainment

"Bread Loaf" by Arvid Petersen.

Art and life according to artist Arvid Petersen


In simplest terms, an illustrative painting of a child's swing set is just that -- a structure in a park or backyard. But when it becomes the subject of one of Arvid Petersen's paintings, it carries with it a pool of happy memories of the artist's childhood in Michigan, when he spent afternoon's swinging as high as he could and then jumping off.

In many ways, this subjectivity is a good summation of Petersen's work. He takes things he sees in life -- simple things like swings, a loaf of bread, a cow -- and presents them as they are, leaving any and all interpretation up to his audience.

"You can think and go as deep as you want or take it for what it is," he says of his colorful canvas creations. "I like to hear all of the different takes on some of the most simple subjects."

But he bottom line, and a major player in Peterson's success, is that it's incredibly easy to relate to his work. After all, who hasn't pealed an ear of corn, sipped from a mug of coffee or knocked down a bowling pin at least once in his life?

In fact, life is the theme of his 11-plus-piece installation at the Frank Allen Gallery's spring opening on Friday, April 27. The Glendale gallery has been showing Petersen's work consistently since '04 and this show also includes artists Frank Hoeffler, Art Bartkowiak, Julie Judes, Bob Hagen, Kendall, Polster, Ron Zabler, Ronald Hart, Sarah Mceneany, Todd Mrozinski and Sarah Julius.

"This show includes some of my older works as well. They may step out of the 'life' theme, but maybe they will inspire life in some way," he says.

If you've been to the Hi-Fi Café, 2640 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., at all this April then you've probably seen a sampling of some newer Petersen works adorning the walls -- a month-long show that ends as May rolls in.

Although he's recently relocated back to his home state of Michigan, Peterson says he'll continue to show his work locally.

"I will always show in Milwaukee -- it is a big part of what made me. Before I moved to Milwaukee I mostly was a metal artist, hardly ever touching a brush. Now all I do is paint and I can't even imagine spending a week without a brush in hand."

We're certainly glad that's the case. Peterson's art is fun, refreshing and, despite being based on simple objects, carries with it a certain intrigue that invites conversation in almost any setting -- a small Peterson original of a lone bowling pin actually graces a wall of the OnMilwaukee.com office.

And if art really does imitate life, then it's safe to say that Arvid Petersen's got it down to a near science.

"The most inspiring thing to me would have to be nature. It is an amazing world we live in -- remember to take the time to enjoy a breeze or the rain or some part of nature as much as you possibly can."


Talkbacks

hasensmith | April 24, 2007 at 12:59 p.m. (report)

Can't say his stuff moves me much. This is the kind of 'art' that I feel the artist doesn't really need to share.

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Rick | April 17, 2007 at 8:38 a.m. (report)

Come back to MKE, dude!

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