RedLine connects artists to personal goals, community
Milwaukee artists Lori Bauman and Steve Vande Zande went to graduate school in New York, and when they returned, they wanted to create a space where Milwaukee artists could develop and for the creative community at large. Hence, in 2009, they opened RedLine Milwaukee, a non-profit "urban laboratory" that provides residency, education, outreach and exhibitions to local artists and the community.
"We wanted to develop a professional development program for artists to keep artists here," says Bauman.
RedLine, 1442 N. 4th St., offers the city's only artist-in-residence program of its kind, housing nine emerging artists, five mentoring artists, six teen residents and several visiting artists every year.
"The location of our building was very important to us. We're close to other non-profits, Brady Street artists, Downtown and an industrial section of the city. We really wanted a diverse group of people to have access to us," says Bauman. "And a place where people from all different economic backgrounds and demographics could come together and talk about important topics."
RedLine is inside a restored building – built in 1912 – and provides exhibition space, artist studios, a community printshop and paper making studio, a computer lab, dark rooms, an animation studio, a ceramics studio and classrooms.
RedLine focuses on teen artists and has multiple teen residents, hosts a monthly teen night and offers paid internships for teens.
"They are paid to collaborate together on a piece of art that solves a social justice issue, and they learn job skills at the same time," says Bauman.
There is a small apartment onsite at RedLine where national and international artists stay while visiting. Recently, Austrian artist Heimo Wallner spent two weeks in the space working with artists and teens and putting up an installation in the gallery.
"Heimo created a long narrative on the wall, a continual, political drawing," says Bauman. "He really strips down topics to an emotional level so they are universal for everyone."
Resident artists receive the studio space for two or three year periods for free, but they pay $175 for utilities every month. In addition to the affordable studio space, resident artists receive mentoring from five accomplished artists. In exchange, they are required to provide two hours of community services every week. RedLine has a social justice focus and connects artists with community organizations through workshops, classes and outreach.
For example, some of the resident artists run a Saturday morning program called Shelter that's open to families living at the Salvation Army. The five-week program offers families who are experiencing the stressful and disruptive reality of homelessness the opportunity to create something beautiful and meaningful.
Another RedLine program, called Published, partners with public schools, and the project varies from school to school, based on the curricular focus of the school / teacher. This year, partner schools include Alliance High School, Golda Meir, Hartford University School, Humboldt Park and University School of Milwaukee.
RedLine hosts a show four times a year, in conjunction with Gallery Night. They have an international, national, local and RedLine artist show. They also offer "short shows" in between the larger ones like a recent paper making exhibit.
"Sometimes these shows are more interesting to the public," says Bauman. "There's more community involvement ... We educate people why artists are important and why we want to keep the creative class in town."
RedLine houses a variety of artists, from printmakers to animators to environmental artists. Kari Garon, an illustrator who works in a variety of mediums, has been a resident artist at RedLine since 2009.
"RedLine has enabled me to expose my most intimate secrets through art in a safe environment, artistically and psychologically. I really do think that there is a great deal of trust and respect between the residents. It's really quite amazing to watch others evolve and grow on their own individual paths," says Garon.
Currently, the studio spaces are filled, but two or three will be available in September, and RedLine is currently taking applications from interested artists.
"We really, really try to have a broad definition of 'artist,'" says Bauman.
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